Rio 2016 was an 'iconic Games,' says IOC's Bach

Sat Aug 20, 2016 12:57pm EDT
 
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By Karolos Grohmann

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - The Rio de Janeiro Olympics, which come to an end on Sunday, were an iconic Games despite a long list of problems and a lack of cash, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said on Saturday.

A day before the closing ceremony of the first Olympics in South America, Bach said the performances of athletics combined with the purpose-built venues had made the Games a success and proved less affluent nations could host the Olympics.

"These were and still are iconic Olympic Games in many respects," Bach told reporters.

"We have seen iconic athletes across all sports, seen athletes who were icons and even strengthened their positions like Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt. And others who became icons here.

"We all saw the level of competition over all sports was extremely high, with stunning performances from the athletes. This really is the spirit of the Games," he said.

Rio organizers struggled with transportation, security, empty stands and a shortage of funds as Brazil was gripped by its worst recession since the 1930s, with political turmoil further hampering preparations.

Rio won the right to host the Games in 2009 amid a booming economy but due to a severe economic crisis over the past few years organizers had to get advance payments from the IOC while also asking for public funds to complete preparations.

Bach defended the IOC's choice of Rio saying it would have again chosen the Brazilian city because the Olympics were staged "in the middle of reality".   Continued...

 
Fireworks explode during the opening ceremony REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski