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Rio Mayor: IOC to Be a "Permanent Presence" Ahead of Olympics
04/11/2014 - 08h45
FROM RIO DE JANEIRO
The mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes (Brazilian Democratic Movement Party - PMDB), said on Thursday that he welcomes the presence of members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at the ongoing construction work ahead of the 2016 Olympics.
Paes said that the IOC presence would help to "focus efforts on the task in hand."
"I like the way the IOC work. They maintain a permanent presence. They are always on hand, checking up on things, visiting construction sites. FIFA never went to see the Transcarioca works," said Paes, referring to the Transcarioca Bus Rapid Transit route which will connect Barra da Tijuca with the Galeão International Airport.
He admitted to concerns regarding the work on the Deodoro Olympic Park, the construction rights to which will be auctioned off next week. While Paes assures that everything is running on schedule, he admits that "there's no time to waste."
Following a series of criticisms from international federations regarding progress on the works for the Olympics, the IOC announced on Thursday that it would intervene.
One of the measures announced was the appointment of a monitor to assist the local organizing committee, Gilbert Felli. Felli will go to Rio sooner than had originally been anticipated in order to deal with delays in construction work, and help resolve the "political paralysis" which, for the IOC, is obstructing preparation for the event and ultimately threatens to derail it altogether.
"We need to focus on the task in hand.  Felli will come and accompany the work closely, and inform the federation presidents of the progress. But when the IOC was here a few weeks ago there was none of this hysteria about the federations," said Paes, who blamed the complaints on a miscommunication regarding the progress of construction work.
Felli is due to come to Rio on April 22 and 23. It has yet to be determined how often members of the IOC will visit the city and it remains unclear how their presence will help to accelerate the construction projects.
Paes said that the decision to bring Felli to Rio was a joint one. He said he had offered to go to Lausanne to talk directly with the federation presidents, but instead agreed to the IOC coming to Rio. "I love having the IOC here, this way we can avoid misunderstandings."
Paes also revealed that the federation presidents have been insisting upon the construction of expensive arenas for the games. However, he said that he would try to economize as much as possible in the construction work.
"The president of the rugby federation wants a big stadium. But I don't think it's fair to spend public money on a sport which isn't very well known. The stadium will be fit for purpose, and it will meet international criteria. But here we don't have Chinese standards," he said, referring to the Beijing Olympics of 2008. "The federations have to understand that we won't build any white elephants."
Paes said that the Deodoro complex will cost nearly R$900 million (USD $411 million), and that there can be no question of delays.
In an interview Folha published on Thursday, Sidney Levy, the director-general of the Rio 2016 organizing committee, said that "criticisms are all part and parcel of the game." He said that the construction work is on schedule, and that if the committee gave in to the demands of all the federations, it would go bust.
Translated by TOM GATEHOUSE
|The mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes said that the IOC presence would help to "focus efforts on the task in hand"|