Rio confident a year before Games but questions remain

Tue Aug 4, 2015 6:42pm EDT
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By Pedro Fonseca and Andrew Downie

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazil's economy is heading for recession, the president is threatened with impeachment and a huge corruption scandal has engulfed the nation but Rio is riding a wave of confidence in its preparations to host the Olympics next year.

The Games start on Aug 5, 2016 and most of the work will be completed on time, Pedro Paulo, the man coordinating the city’s Olympic projects, told Reuters.

"Nothing is behind schedule when it comes to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics," Paulo said. "City hall has prepared to host the Games from an economic and fiscal point of view."

That claim, while impossible to verify, is welcome because of the contrast with the soccer World Cup, held last year in Rio and 11 other Brazilian cities.

Work on most of the stadiums was behind schedule and some of the promised infrastructure and transportation projects were never completed.

The debacle cast doubts on Brazilian organization but rather than suffer, Rio appears to have learnt valuable lessons.

The Olympic village is 84 percent complete, and the swimming pool, media center and the three arenas that will host six indoor events are all more than two-thirds ready, according to numbers released by the Foreign Ministry.

Among the venues where most work is needed are the velodrome and the hockey pitches, which are only half completed.   Continued...

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff looks at an Olympic Torch model during a ceremony where the Rio Organizing Committee presented the torch and relay route for the Rio 2016 Games in Brasilia, Brazil, July 3, 2015.  REUTERS/Wenderson Araujo