By Karolos Grohmann
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Rio de Janeiro will deliver a successful Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Sunday, despite delays in preparations, lack of funds and the country suffering from its biggest political and economic turmoil in decades.
The first Games on the South American continent are due to start on Aug. 5 and organizers are still frantically rushing to prepare venues.
A metro extension to the Olympic park opened only on Saturday as Brazil grapples with its worst recession since the 1930s.
The $3.1 billion expansion of the metro to Barra, the area housing the Olympic park and athletes’ village, is key to the smooth transport of tens of thousands of fans and athletes between the Games’ different competition zones.
But workers are still busy putting the finishing touches to the venues and dealing with problems in some Olympic accommodation.
The main ramp at the sailing center collapsed on Saturday, adding another headache to last-minute preparations.
“There are some last-minute challenges but our Brazilian friends are addressing them,” IOC President Thomas Bach said. “It is all coming together. We are looking forward to great Games.”
“We are more confident than ever that we will have great Olympic Games in Rio in five days from now. Olympic Games a la Brazil.”
When Rio won the right to host the Olympics in 2009 the country was posting near double-digit growth figures, a far cry from the current financial conditions.
Organizers have also had to depend on the IOC making some of the contributions towards their budget months ahead of the original payment dates.
“We have been informed yesterday by the organizing committee that they are still working on a balanced budget,” Bach said.
“With regard to these cash flow challenges the IOC has helped and is helping the organizing committee to make sure these Games are the success we all want them to be.”
On a political level, suspended President Dilma Rousseff faces an impeachment trial over alleged budget irregularities, and the Senate is expected to vote against her the last week of August.
Interim President Michel Temer is widely expected to officially take over the presidency just days after the Olympics end on Aug. 21.
Temer has recognized he will probably be booed when he goes to the Games’ opening on Friday, while Rousseff has said she will not attend.
Hundreds of peaceful protesters on Sunday marched on Rio’s Copacabana beach to demand the ousting of Rousseff,
A recent study also showed most Brazilians were pessimistic about the impact of the Games on their country.
According to a study by polling group Ibope, 60 percent of Brazilians believe the Games, expected to cost more than $12 billion and also hit by corruption investigations over contracts, will bring more harm than good. Only 32 percent believe the Games will bring benefits.
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