Rio changes are down to the Olympics : IOC

Mon Aug 1, 2016 8:24pm EDT
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By Karolos Grohmann

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - The Olympic Games have been the catalyst for a positive transformation of Rio de Janeiro, the International Olympic committee said on Monday.

With gleaming new stadiums dotting the coastline in the Barra de Tijuca neighborhood, Rio is set to open the first Olympics on South American soil on Friday.

But with Brazil engulfed in a political and economic crisis and battling its worst recession in decades organizers are out of cash and racing to complete venues days before competitions get under way.

IOC President Thomas Bach, however, said on the opening of his organization's session in the city that the Olympics had changed Rio for the better.

"Rio de Janeiro would not be where it is today, without the Olympic Games as a catalyst," he said. "History will talk about a Rio de Janeiro before the Olympic Games and a much better Rio de Janeiro after the Olympic Games."

Concerns about the Games have steadily grown in Brazil as the country falls deeper into economic crisis and evidence of widespread corruption in construction contracts for Olympic infrastructure has been uncovered by investigators.

About 60 percent of Brazilians believe the Games will bring more harm than good to Brazil, according to a survey by polling group Ibope.

Rio state, which is responsible for about a quarter of the 40 billion reais ($12.2 billion) in Olympic costs, declared a fiscal emergency in June, receiving federal funds to cover public safety as it struggled to pay pensioners and civil servants.   Continued...

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JULY 30: IOC President Thomas Bach during the IOC Executive Board Meeting on July 30, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. REUTERS/Pascal Le Segretain/Pool