Rio Olympics slowly materialising

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Brazil_Olympic_village AFP An aerial view of the construction site of the Olympic and Paralympic Village at Barra da Tijuca in Rio de Janeiro. Picture: AFP Photo / Yasuyoshi Chiba

Rio de Janeiro – Rio 2016 Olympic Games organisers on Tuesday unveiled a further piece of the budget jigsaw, without indicating the final overall cost of the first Games to be staged in South America.

At a press conference in Rio, organisers revealed a list of Games-specific infrastructure projects across the venues and their various stages of development.

They indicated 5.6 billion reais ($2.3 billion) has been set aside – mostly via public-private partnerships.

When it initially launched its bid in 2008, Rio estimated the total cost at 28 billion reais ($11.55 billion), with 24 billion reais coming from the public purse.

That compares with the final estimated $14.5 billion cost of the London 2012 Games.

But Rio's costing picture remains incomplete and will only become clear in the coming months after capital spending is unveiled for public sector-financed infrastructural improvements to Rio above and beyond specific Olympic requirements.

Those include a $7bn public-private partnership to overhaul the city's Porto Maravilha port as well as extending the metro through to the main Games site at Barra de Tijuca in the west of the city as well as introducing new Bus Rapid Transit lines.

Splitting the budget into sections is a deliberate strategy, organisers explained, stressing that Tuesday's figure relates to items specifically needed for the Games.

“Other things (whose cost elements are yet to be finalised) comprise things for the long-term development of the city,” such as transport links, a spokesman told AFP.

Last Thursday, organisers unveiled an operational budget of $2.9 billion for the Games, comprising private money and around 27 percent higher than initial forecasts allowing for inflation.

That total exceeds by around two thirds the original bid quote made in 2008 but inflation accounts for 31.89 percent of the difference.

Tuesday saw the next phase of the budget come into play, involving state finance, further private investment and public-private partnerships.

But only a partial picture emerged with fixed commitments to date amounting to just 5.6 billion reais ($2.3 billion).

Of that, four fifths comprised public-private partnerships with public finance accounting for just $600 million spread across 14 projects.

Organisers said more details would emerge in mid-March.

Each project at the four main venue sectors has to go through six stages from initial conception, through signing off on the cost through to actual delivery with the whole process enshrined in law.

Organisers insist the goal is to offer total transparency on the figures although the size of the overall capital spending budget still has to be established.

The costing comes against a backdrop of social tension in Brazil, where more than a million people demonstrated last year at the cost – estimated at a joint $26 billion – of staging this year's World Cup and the Olympics in quick success.

Most Brazilians do not oppose the events as such but believe the money would have been better spent on sagging infrastructure, education and health.

Rio is undergoing a massive overhaul in order to be ready for both events and ahead of the Games the port area is having a huge facelift, the cost of which is not included in the budget figures unveiled to date.

A spokesman stressed that the cost process was “dynamic” in that the figures would be revisited every six months to assess how individual projects were processing, thereby underpinning data transparency. – Sapa-AFP



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