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Rio’s Mayor Says Time Spent Preparing for the Olympics is a “Shame”

Skift Take

In the ESPN interview, Mayor Paes revealed particular distaste for FIFA and Olympic officials’ lack of care for anything outside of the stadium walls.

— Jason Clampet

The mayor of Rio de Janeiro has said it is “a shame” the city is hosting the 2016 Olympics, claiming the Brazilian government is poorly equipped to stage the Games or make the most of their legacy.

Speaking after June riots that saw public fury at spending on sporting events spill out onto the streets of Rio and other cities, Eduardo Paes said: “It is a shame that Brazil is hosting the Olympic Games… We must handle the legacy of the Olympics in the city”.

He suggested that while the infrastructure being built in Rio would benefit the city, it was uncertain who would maintain and fund parts of it in the future.

“Rio will have to look after the legacy of infrastructure,” he said in an interview with sports channel ESPN to be broadcast on Friday. “But it’s unclear who will run the sports centres after the Olympics.”

Mr Paes told the channel that this was because a lack of a proper sports policy on the part of the Brazilian government.

“It is up to the federal government to create a federal policy,” he said.

The Brazilian government has been criticised for pouring vast sums into hosting events such as the Confederations Cup, the international football tournament which sparked June’s millions-strong protests, while neglecting social spending necessary to improve lives in a country still wracked by stinging poverty.

Activists have also denounced official efforts to remove thousands of people from Rio’s favelas – shantytowns – to make room for infrastructure for the Olympic Games in 2016 and the World Cup next year. Rights groups have complained that many people face losing their homes without proper compensation.

Amid the protests in June, Mr Paes told the BBC that Brazil had “lost a great opportunity” to improve public provisions such as healthcare, education and transport when it was chosen as the host of the 2014 World Cup.

Demonstrations have continued in recent months in Rio de Janeiro as angry residents accuse state Governor Sergio Cabral of corruption and demand an inquiry into spending on projects associated with the staging of World Cup and Olympic Games. 

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