Rio Olympics organizers promise `no white elephants`
The organizers of next year`s Rio Olympics say not only the Games will be a success -- but so will the aftermath.
Mindful of criticism directed at Brazil`s World Cup last year, in which expensive new stadiums fell empty as soon as the tournament ended, Olympic organizers on Wednesday promised a healthy legacy.
"We will leave no white elephants," Pedro Paulo, the executive secretary at the mayor`s office, told a press conference.
Rio de Janeiro is also seeking to reassure Brazilians and the wider public that these Games will be financially responsible, in keeping with the realities in a country about to plunge into recession.
The approximately $11-12 billion price tag is not far off the cost of the 2012 London Olympics, but officials are keen to point out that 57 percent of that is provided by private investors, leaving the state with less than half the tab.
The subject is especially sensitive in the wake of Boston`s decision to pull out of bidding for the 2024 games, citing the excessive expense.
Rio has tried from the start to "control the costs," said Leonardo Gryner, vice president of the Rio 2016 organizing committee.
"The tendency has been for spending more at every Olympics, while we managed to have a budget smaller than London`s," he told AFP.
He estimated the cost at $10.9 billion, although many estimates have come as high as $12 billion.
By contrast, the Beijing Olympics cost $33 billion, while the Winter Games in Sochi -- usually far less expensive -- cost Russia a whopping $40 billion.
"I think we are going to show that it`s possible to put on an Olympics with excellent standards for the athletes and the spectators at a cost compatible with the city and that this will encourage other cities in the world when they organize future Olympics," Gryner said.
Like any Olympics, the preparations mean vast construction projects churning up parts of the city.
Rio is extending a metro line, building a huge Olympic Park, museums and a 31-tower Olympic Village that will turn into luxury real estate after the Games.
Despite some worries that Brazil would fall behind amid economic troubles and political instability, the projects are all "on time," Paulo said.
"Even the ones that were a challenge are ahead of schedule," he added.
A tour for journalists to some of the sites revealed a nearly completed Arena 3 in the Olympic Park, where the fencing and taekwondo competitions will take place.
There were even seats in place, covered with protective plastic against the dust.
The velodrome, however, still has no roof.
The mayor`s office says that 60 percent of the Olympic Park will become public space after the Games, while the rest goes into private hands.