GLASGOW (Reuters) - Rio de Janeiro will host a successful Olympic Games in 2016 after the World Cup showed Brazil can cope with staging the biggest sporting events, International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach said on Wednesday.
“I think the success of the organization of the World Cup helped, and will help, the organization of the Games,” Bach told Reuters in an interview ahead of the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony.
“I could really feel this during my visit there for the final weekend of the World Cup. It was much more confident and optimistic. Brazil realized that it can deliver.”
Preparations for Rio 2016 were called the “worst ever” by IOC vice-president John Coates in April, but Bach, elected to his position in September, said progress was being made before the first Olympic Games to be held in South America.
“Since the last meeting with the organizing committee in March, you can feel, not only feel, you can see the commitment and the determination coming from the top of the government,” said German Bach, a 1976 Olympic champion in fencing.
“They were extremely clear by saying that from the Monday after the World Cup the Games would be top priority.
“But it does not mean that you can lean back. There is still a lot to do, but I think we can be really confident that we will have a great Games, with all the Brazilian enthusiasm and joy of life.”
With FIFA yet to decide whether to hold the 2022 World Cup in Qatar in the summer or winter, the 60-year-old Bach is certain the tournament will not clash with the Winter Olympic Games in the same year.
“I spoke with FIFA about this a couple of months ago and it is very clear that in mutual interests there would be no conflicting situation,” Bach said.
“I am very relaxed because FIFA knows it would not be good to compete against the Winter Games and we also know that it would not be good for the Winter Games to compete against the World Cup.”
Bach did concede, however, that the IOC needs to do more to attract cities to bid for the Winter Games after several decided against hosting the 2022 event due to financial concerns.
Sochi cost Russia an estimated $50 billion because of the huge infrastructure projects undertaken in the Black Sea resort but Bach stressed that the operational costs of the Winter Olympics have been the same for last few Games at around $2 billion.
Around $700 million of those running costs for Sochi were met by the IOC, who might contribute even more towards the running of the next Winter Games.
“What happened with the bids, I think, is a kind of misunderstanding of what needs to be done to organize an excellent Winter Games,” Bach said.
“We think we need to explain that the cost for the organization of the Winter Games is about the same as it was for the Sochi Games.
“We need to explain this and then it is up to each of the bidding cities to make best use of their existing infrastructure, their existing facilities, and in such a way organizing sustainable and feasible Olympic Winter Games.
“There was clearly a misunderstanding of this concept and we are addressing this.”
Editing by Ed Osmond