The long-awaited infrastructure budget for hosting the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro has finally been unveiled, amounting to R$24.1 billion ($10.76 billion), a 25-per-cent increase on initial estimates.
At the same time, city authorities have sought to reassure international sports federations and other concerned onlookers that sports facilities for the games will be completed on time, especially at the Deodoro cluster of venues, which is due to stage eight of the sports.
Eduardo Paes, the city’s mayor, said: “We have no room to spare with Deodoro. We cannot make a single mistake here. But there is still time to get it done.”
The R$24.1-billion infrastructure budget, which will cover 27 projects in urban development and public transport, including R$8 billion for a newly added fourth metro line for Rio, brings the overall cost of the games to R$36.7 billion, a figure that does not include more than half of the 52 projects or facilities that will be used exclusively for the games and still require approval.
Paes said the rise in the infrastructure budget was a result of the inclusion of new projects and of inflation, which has increased costs by 30 per cent since Rio won the right to host the games in 2009.
Public funds will account for 57 per cent of the infrastructure costs, Paes said, with the remainder being paid for privately.
Justifying the rise in infrastructure costs, Paes said: “The bigger the legacy budget is, the more things will be carried out, and the better it is for the city. We have a sports commitment for the games, but our focus will always be the legacy for the city.”
Meanwhile, Brett Gosper, the International Rugby Board’s chief executive, has become the latest international federation official to express concerns over the progress of work at the Deodoro Zone, focusing on the infrastructure work required to bring athletes and spectators to the venues there in order to showcase properly the sport of rugby sevens, which is making its Olympic debut in Rio.
Gosper told the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper: “It will be important for us because we don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. It’s our one chance to really shine on that stage. It’s really important to us, so we’re probably more nervous than the other federations.
“When you’re in a plane and it hits some turbulence, you look at the most experienced fliers – like the cabin staff – to see if they’re concerned. The other international federations are concerned, so that worries us a lot.”
Last week, the extent of disillusion among international federations over preparations for the games was laid bare when more than half of the 28 sports on the programme expressed significant concerns to the International Olympic Committee.
Some 18 federations weighed into the debate during a joint IOC and Association of Summer Olympic International Federations meeting in Belek, Turkey, of which only one, volleyball’s FIVB, had positive news to share.
The majority of complaints were focused on construction delays, principally in the Deodoro Zone, with some federations calling for the IOC to draw up a Plan B, suggesting alternative venues or even alternative cities within Brazil.
Gosper’s concerns focus not on the temporary 20,000-seat venue that it is to be built to host rugby sevens, but on infrastructure and public transport. He said: “We want to make sure that the atmosphere in that park is uplifting and a great experience so that we can keep people in that area.
“It’s more concerning that that’s not on track, but we still believe that they will reach the outcomes that we’re hoping for and that it will be a great Olympics.”
The IRB has teamed up with other federations whose sports will be based at Deodoro to put pressure on politicians and officials. Gosper said: “We’re going to try to maybe have a group of us go out in intervals to maintain the pressure certainly over this next six months. They really do need to get their skates on and reassure us in that area.”