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Olympic Make-Believe

07/07/2016 - 09h17

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ROBERTO DIAS
FROM SÃO PAULO

In an interview this week with the "Globo", Carlos Arthur Nuzmann, President of the Rio Olympic Organizing Committee pitched: "We made the commitment to holding the Games without public funding and we are fulfilling it".

No, the Games are not being held without public funding. Of the R$ 39 billion spent on the Olympics, 43% came from the pockets of Brazilian citizens, without considering additional state expenses like security, as the Folha has shown. How much money does this represent? 14 year's-worth of the Lei Rouanet (Federal Law incentivizing and subsidizing Brazilian culture and related activities)

To sell the idea that the Games are happening without public funding, Nuzman is cutting reality, limiting it to the budget for the Organizing Committee, a R$ 7,4 billion fraction, coming mostly from sponsors, ticket sales, licensing and the IOC (International Olympic Committee). But even this cut is crooked - this abbreviation ignores tax breaks and sponsorship by the Postal Service.

The creative accounting by the principal official responsible for the Olympics contains a convenient logic. Nuzman affirmed to UOL: "The Olympics have nothing to do with the problems of the State [Rio de Janeiro]". That's not what the government says: "Therefore a state of public calamity is declared, due to the grave financial crisis in the State of RJ, that prevents it from carrying out obligations it has assumed as a result of the Games".

Nuzman declared further that "the metro isn't part of the project". Well, the fact that it will be inaugurated during the opening week, and used only for the Olympics, redefines the word "coincidence".

While Rio was preparing for the Games, other cities were evaluating potential candidacies, weighing the use of public funding. Stockholm and Boston gave up. Munich and Hamburg took the question to their voters and were turned down.

Brazilians didn't have the same opportunity as the Germans did. It is time to evaluate whether or not the public investment is worth it - from various angles, and probably the conclusion is 'yes' that it is. But the debate should be carried out using arguments that aren't so slanted.

Translated by LLOYD HARDER
Read the article in the original language

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