Rio Olympics Face ‘Crucial’ Budget Meeting Next Week, IOC Says

An inspection group from the International Olympic Committee told organizers of the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Games that the time for talking is over and that crucial decisions need to be made.

The IOC’s Coordination Commission for the Rio Olympics, led by Moroccan former hurdler Nawal El Moutawakel, yesterday ended a three-day visit to the Brazilian city where several projects have been delayed. In January, Brazilian authorities said they would be spending at least 5.6 billion reais ($2.4 billion) on infrastructure related to the games.

El Moutawakel and Gilbert Felli, the IOC’s executive director for the Olympic Games, said a March 27 meeting between officials from Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s office and representatives of Rio’s state and municipal government to complete protracted discussions over responsibility for those projects is vital with the event fewer than 900 days away.

The various governments have struggled to agree about costs each will bear amid growing public criticism about the amount of money Brazil is spending on sports events. It will host the $11 billion World Cup in less than 90 days.

“At one point they have to decide who is doing what,” Felli said at a news conference at Rio 2016’s headquarters. “This meeting is probably more crucial than others.”

Carlos Nuzman, president of the local organizing committee, tried to play down the meeting before Felli’s comments.

‘Challenging Timeline’

El Moutawakel reiterated comments she’s made on previous visits to the city, saying some projects face a “challenging timeline.” Among the biggest worries is a venue in the northern neighborhood of Deodoro, where the events include canoe slalom and BMX. The venue was transferred from Rio’s state government to the city, and construction work has yet to be undertaken. The IOC group also talked about Guanabara Bay, the venue for sailing events that is overlooked by the city’s iconic Sugar Loaf mountain.

The bay is heavily polluted, since sewage from part of the city’s population is pumped directly into its waters. After a regatta last year, some foreign competitors complained it was among the most polluted venues they’d sailed in. Cleanup work may not be ready in time for August’s Olympic test event.

“We’ve been given assurances and confirmation that the Guanabara Bay will be clean for the athletes’ safety and security,” El Moutawakel said.

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