Rio De Janeiro: Organizers of next year's Rio Olympics have said they aim to slash the cost of the Games by around 10 per cent in a bid to combat the effects of Brazil's economic crisis.
South America's first country to host the Olympics is in serious trouble, with inflation and unemployment soaring and the IMF yesterday becoming the latest to predict a steep two-year economic downturn.
But organizers, who are currently meeting to identify possible savings within their 7.4 million reais (USD1.9 billion) budget, say the Rio Games will be responsible and recession-proof - and still a great show.
"It's not about being modest. It's about being efficient, it's about making sense," Mario Andrada, chief spokesman for the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Committee, told AFP yesterday.
"The message is clear: a message of efficiency, rather than a message of humility." Officials say that in some cases 30 per cent will be cut from current costs, but Andrada said "generally it's about 10 per cent as an overall figure."
These cost savings can range from simply eradicating printers and printed material to downsizing big ticket items that threaten to turn into money pits.
For example, an option of adding a second floor and other infrastructure to the Maracana football stadium for an extravagant opening show has already been discarded, an official said.
And wherever there is no clear second use for a building after the Games, temporary structures and tents will be built for the duration of the events instead.
"When something goes a little overboard you have to find savings," Andrada said. He insisted that budgeting is under control and that despite the country's descent into economic - and increasingly political turmoil - Olympics organizers are far from panicking. "We have a balanced budget," he said. "We are serious. We plan to be efficient." But Andrada conceded that scrutiny of the mega event, which kicks off next August, is growing.
Huge street protests took place in 2013 amid anger over spending ahead of the 2014 World Cup tournament in Brazil. "You know how tough it is with the political crisis," Andrada said.
"If people feel that we are treating money with respect and doing our best to save where savings can be found, it will release this tension about how can you spend so much money in a country that is in crisis," he said.