IOC president to travel to Brazil for talks
AP Sports Writer
RIO DE JANEIRO -- International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach will meet in two weeks with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and organizers of Rio’s 2016 Olympics to remind them there is no time to waste as they prepare for South America’s first games.
Rio de Janeiro Olympics organizers said Tuesday that Bach would meet Rousseff on Jan. 21 in the capital Brasilia. It was not immediately clear if he would meet Rio organizers -- and state and local officials -- before or after that meeting.
The IOC has expressed concerns about the pace of building, particularly for the main Olympic park and a smaller venue area in north Rio.
Also, organizers have yet to announce an operating budget, local sponsorship sales appear to be lagging, and pollution is a major problem in waters that will host Olympic events.
Olympic sailors competing a month ago in Rio called Guanabara Bay, the Olympic venue for sailing, "a sewer" and the filthiest body of water they had ever tried to navigate.
Olympic officials are worried that many of the problems surrounding this year’s World Cup in Brazil will also plague the Olympics. This includes the possibility of protests over the billions being spent on the two mega events. The Rio Olympics will cost as much or more than the World Cup, probably about $15 billion.
"The purpose is to ensure seamless cooperation between all stakeholders and to tell the Brazilian authorities the IOC is fully committed to the success of these games," Bach said in a conference call last month with reporters. "I want to make this statement in person to demonstrate that the new president is behind these Olympic Games."
Time will begin to close in on the Rio organizers with the first test events usually taking place a year before the games, and some sooner.
"They have reported that there is good progress being made, that the organizing committee is working well, and that on the other hand there is no time to lose," Bach said. "It needs all the efforts of all the stakeholders, not only the organizing committee but also the different levels of government. The IOC is ready to ensure this seamless cooperation between all the stakeholders."
Bach, who was elected in September in Buenos Aires, Argentina, has his hands full with two Olympics that are proving problematic: the Winter Olympics in a month in Sochi, Russia, and Rio, which opens Aug. 5, 2016.
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