Rio: Olympics Not Just About the Benjamins

Brazilian president touts Rio 2016

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images / Harry How
    A sign in support of the Olympic Games coming to Rio in 2016 is shown amongst the crowd during the Closing Ceremony for the 2007 XV Pan American Games at Maracana Stadium on July 29, 2007 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

    Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva urged the IOC to break new ground by awarding the 2016 Summer Games to Rio de Janeiro.

    "The Olympic Games cannot be kept by the rich countries," Silva said Monday before this week's presentations to the International Olympic Committee. "The IOC must see the Olympics as the chance to transform Brazilian society."

    Rio is competing against Chicago, Madrid and Tokyo. The IOC will vote on the host city on Oct. 2 in Copenhagen.

    "Brazil is among the 10 biggest economies in the world and it is the only one of the 10 which has never organized the Olympics," Silva said through a translator. "Europe has already organized too many Olympics. There is no novelty in Europe.

    "Can you imagine the possibility for a continent which has never had the chance to organize an Olympics, and how much that can motivate people?"

    Rio's budget has been estimated at $14.4 billion -- $2.8 billion for the organizing committee and $11.6 billion for infrastructure projects such as venues, transportation and accommodations.

    Silva said the bid was guaranteed by federal, state and city governments and should be counted as investment rather than spending.

    "To organize an Olympic Games is an extraordinary incentive to invest," he said. "We are preparing Brazil regardless of the Olympic Games. We are working to recoup all the delays Brazil has had in its development."

    Bid organizers say much of Rio's infrastructure is scheduled to be completed by 2014. The city is one of 12 venues hosting soccer's World Cup that year.

    Rio and its three rivals will put their cases to IOC members this week in Lausanne. At least 94 of 107 members are scheduled to attend formal presentations Wednesday and private meetings Thursday in what is a trial run for Copenhagen.

    "Brazil is better prepared to come out of the economic crisis than the United States, Spain or Japan," Silva said. "I don't want to speak badly of Chicago, Madrid and Tokyo. I want to convince them that Brazil can do better than them." Silva is expected to attend the October vote. Chicago bid leaders hope President Barack Obama will be there in support of his home city.