Rio Olympics in the spotlight as World Cup curtain drops

Fri Jul 11, 2014 5:14pm EDT
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By Karolos Grohmann

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - The Rio de Janeiro 2016 summer Olympics move firmly into the spotlight this week with the International Olympic Committee in town to monitor progress and the soccer World Cup wrapping up.

The Olympics are the country's second global sports event it has committed itself to staging and following the end of the world's biggest single sports event on Sunday, Rio enters the final stretch of delivering a troubled project.

Called the "worst ever" preparations by IOC Vice President John Coates as recently as April, Rio organizers have been with their backs to the wall from the start, trying to play catchup with a schedule they had fallen behind.

IOC President Thomas Bach met Brazil President Dilma Rousseff in Brasilia on Friday before returning to Rio to attend the World Cup final.

"We are seeing great progress and appreciate the commitment of the president and the government of Brazil for the Games," Bach told reporters. "We believe they will be very successful."

The German lawyer took charge of the IOC after winning elections in September and has been trying to instil a sense of urgency with organizers ever since.

Brazil had to face years of criticism in the run-up to the World Cup with delays in construction and completion of stadiums forcing world soccer's governing body FIFA to say organizers "needed a kick up the backside."

Fears of widespread protests and major problems with security and transportation failed to materialize during the month-long tournament seen overall as successful and the IOC are hoping Olympic organizers had drawn valuable conclusions for their own 16-day event.   Continued...