Laureus cancels World Sports Awards in Rio de Janeiro

Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:49am EST
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By Andrew Downie

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Laureus have cancelled plans to host their World Sports Awards in Rio de Janeiro this year, the foundation said on Wednesday.

"Laureus and the state of Rio de Janeiro have agreed that the 2014 Laureus World Sports Awards will not be staged in Rio," Laureus said in a statement. "Laureus will announce its plans for this year's Laureus World Sports Awards shortly."

The London-based organization did not give any reason for the cancellation, but said it would continue to support sports charity projects in Brazil. Rio state authorities also did not explain why the event would not take place as planned.

Although Rio officials said they and Laureus had "amicably" decided to cancel the event, a news report in Rio's O Globo newspaper last year said the state government owed Laureus $15 million and had not responded to requests to settle the debt.

Rio authorities said on Wednesday the government would pay what it owes Laureus and repeated the argument it used when a gathering of 4,500 soccer professionals was cancelled last November.

"The State Secretariat of Sports and Leisure recommended to the organizers of the awards ceremony that they use the incentive laws (tax breaks) to secure (financial) resources and make the event happen," it said in a statement.

The Laureus ceremony, often known as the sporting Oscars for the array of global sports stars it brings together, was due to be held in Rio this March for the second year running.

Last year Michael Phelps, Neymar and Mika Hakkinen were among the athletes who attended the gala at the city's Municipal Theatre.   Continued...