Rio to help cover deficit of local Olympic committee: mayor

Tue Aug 23, 2016 1:09pm EDT
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By Stephen Eisenhammer

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Rio de Janeiro's City Hall will help cover the deficit of the local Olympic organizing committee if necessary, Mayor Eduardo Paes said in an interview on Tuesday, going back on assurances that the committee would be entirely privately funded.

The local organizer, known as Rio 2016, is a private company responsible for running the Olympics and Paralympics using funds from ticket sales, sponsorship, merchandise and broadcast proceeds passed on by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

That it was fully private, unlike for London's Games for example, was a key part of Rio's claim to hosting a sustainable games which used public money mainly for legacy projects instead of for the sporting event.

But with just 20 percent of tickets sold for the Paralympics, which start on Sept. 7, and Rio 2016 spending heavily to fix last-minute problems such as plumbing and electricity in the Athletes' Village, the committee's finances are stretched.

"If it's necessary we'll help," Paes said. "We won't let the Paralympics not happen because of that."

The mayor said he expected the city to pay around 100 to 200 million reais ($31 to $62 million), which he described as "small" in comparison to the committee's budget of 7.4 billion reais. The total cost of the Games is around 40 billion reais.

A Reuters report last month put the committee's deficit at between 400 million and 500 million reais. Given unexpected costs during the Games, that could have risen further still.

A Brazilian judge last week lifted an injunction which stopped the federal and city government using public money to help finance the committee, though the judge maintained a previous ruling that organizers make their accounts public.   Continued...

A person walks in the rain through the Olympic Park a day after the closing ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, in Rio de Janeiro. REUTERS/Bruno Kelly