Rio slims down as Brazil’s economic crisis bites

Published 01/19/2016, 12:20 PM EST
The Olympic Flag flies in front of “Christ the Redeemer” statue during a blessing ceremony in Rio de Janeiro August 19, 2012. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes/Files


By Andrew Downie

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SAO PAULO (Reuters) – The grandstands for watching rowing and beach volleyball at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics are to be reduced in size to cut spending as Brazil’s economic crisis hits home, Olympic officials said on Tuesday.

The number of volunteers has also been cut from around 70,000 to 50,000 and the total of cars slashed by 20 percent to 4,000 from an original estimate of 5,000, Rio 2016 spokesperson Mario Andrada told reporters.

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The moves come after four months of negotiations between Brazilian organisers, the International Olympic Committee and federations from around the world over how best to trim spending and ensure that South America’s first Olympic Games do not go over budget.

“We have cut some services and made some important corrections,” Andrada said.

“We have a balanced budget, with some creative solutions. Many of the future games will be inspired by what we do today.”

Brazil is suffering from its worst economic crisis in decades, with the economy shrinking last year and expected to do the same in 2016.

Money is tight and organisers are keen to ensure they are not seen to be spending frivolously.

They did not say exactly how many seats will be lost in the reshuffle as final details are still being worked out.

But the original capacity for the rowing and kayak sprint events was 14,000, according to official figures.

The beach volleyball arena to be built on Copacabana beach was originally scheduled to hold 12,000 people.

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Organisers have also agreed to slim down backstage installations and hold off on moving into certain venues. Some venues had separate rooms for security, judges and officials and these will be reduced or even moved to tents.

“If you save on walls at almost all the venues, two or three walls at each means a big saving,” Andrada said.

“One of the places we made a big saving is in the move-in dates, when we move in and take control of an installation,” he added.

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“We were planning to take control of the Olympic village in January but we are now only taking control in March. We negotiated and we have limited access now but we have not taken full control and so haven’t taken on full costs.”

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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