Rio organizers put on brave face as Games problems pile up

Thu Aug 11, 2016 8:50pm EDT
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By Karolos Grohmann

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Rio Olympics organizers on Thursday put on a brave face as problems plaguing the first Games on the South American continent pile up, admitting preparations could have been better but sounding confident of eventual success.

With a backdrop that includes the country's worst recession since the 1930s and an ongoing political crisis that has divided the continent's most populous nation, organizers are struggling with many aspects of the Olympics.

From security and empty stands to problematic transportation, volunteer and venue issues and even a lack of standard Olympic branding around the stadiums, the Rio Games are facing a myriad problems five days into competition.

"It is clear that everything we do in life, when we look back we believe we could do better," Games spokesman Mario Andrada said on Thursday. "It is the first Olympics in South America and first sport event of this kind for the Brazilian public."

"We reached the Games in a very significant economic crisis. Political changes also affected the mood of the Brazilian people," he said.

When Rio was awarded the Olympics in 2009 the country was seeing near double-digit annual growth. Economic conditions, however, have meant organizers ran out of cash years before the Games kicked off.

The pending impeachment trial of suspended President Dilma Rousseff and her replacement, interim President Michel Temer, have further fanned discontent among Brazilians.

Spectators, unlike London in 2012, have not rushed to snap up tickets and television pictures, broadcast around the world, show empty seats in almost every venue, with only the Opening Ceremony selling out.   Continued...

General view of the Olympic diving pool and the pool for the waterpolo and synchronized swimming.     REUTERS/Antonio Bronic