Rio Mayor Says 2016 Olympics on Time, Dismisses Audit Concerns

Rio de Janeiro’s preparations for the 2016 Olympics are back on schedule, Mayor Eduardo Paes said today.

South America’s first games will cost an estimated 37.6 billion reais ($14.2 billion), with 57 percent of the price being met by the private sector, Paes said as he presented the end-of-year budget at the under-construction Olympic Park.

“We are on time,” Paes said while providing updates on the status of individual projects. The velodrome -- behind by three weeks -- is the biggest laggard. “That’s nothing at all,” he said.

Disputes between federal and local governments about who should foot the bill led to delays, resulting in John Coates, an International Olympic Committee vice president from Australia, calling preparations the worst he’d seen.

Organizers changed the way they present the budget following protests in 2013 that targeted costs related to this year’s soccer World Cup. The Olympic expenses are split into a 7 billion-reais operational budget, 6.5 billion-reais venue infrastructure budget and 24.1 billion reais in expenditures on other structures such as roads, metro lines and a new port that Rio says would have been built even if the city wasn’t hosting.

The mayor said Brazil’s 6.5 percent inflation is the only factor that may increase costs, saying the final figure is unlikely to be much higher than what was announced today.

Accounting Case

Paes’s speech comes 11 days after Brazil’s federal accounts court accused games organizers of withholding financial information. The court, known as TCU, said Rio 2016’s organizing committee officials failed to provide details of their payroll for the past 12 months, the identities of employees and their roles, and the committee’s annual budget and contract details.

The city is paying almost 18 billion reais toward the games, he said.

Paes said the court had little jurisdiction over the organizing budget and many other projects because most funds were from local treasuries. Still, Brazil’s government has promised to underwrite $700 million worth of investment should organizers be unable to meet targets.

“We are completely open to all kinds of inspections and transparency,” Paes said.

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