Olympic CEO says pri­vately run bud­get needs pub­lic money

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS -

JANEIRO (AP): THE CEO of the Rio Olympics said yes­ter­day his pri­vately funded op­er­at­ing bud­get needs just un­der $30 mil­lion in pub­lic fund­ing to meet its obli­ga­tions.

Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Sid­ney Levy had pledged that only pri­vate money would be used to run the Games. That prom­ise was bro­ken just over a month ago when the com­mit­tee re­quested a bailout from the city of Rio de Janeiro and the fed­eral govern­ment to run the Par­a­lympic Games.

Levy, speak­ing on the fi­nal day of the Paralympics, said “we com­mit­ted our­selves to host­ing the Games without any pub­lic funds, but dur­ing the jour­ney there were a lot of ups and downs” that led to the over­run.

The op­er­at­ing bud­get is for run­ning the Games them­selves and does not in­clude roads and sta­di­ums built to pre­pare the city. In a con­ser­va­tive es­ti­mate, Rio spent be­tween $10-12 bil­lion in pub­lic and pri­vate money ready­ing the city — much of the pri­vate money lured in by tax con­ces­sions and favourable loan terms from govern­ment lenders.

Levy, who promised early in his term to run an op­er­at­ing com­mit­tee free of cor­rup­tion, said the fi­nal fig­ure for the op­er­at­ing bud­get was $2.8 bil­lion. He said the fi­nal govern­ment con­tri­bu­tion would not be more than one per­cent of that.

The dol­lar-de­nom­i­nated bud­get num­ber has fluc­tu­ated over the years be­cause of wide swings in that cur­rency’s value against the Brazil­ian real.

The Rio or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee re­ceived a last-minute re­serve fund of 150 mil­lion re­als ($45.9 mil­lion) from the city of Rio de Janeiro. Levy said he ex­pects to use about two-thirds of that fund.

Brazil’s fed­eral govern­ment also came up with an­other 100 mil­lion re­als ($30.6 mil­lion). This comes in the form of spon­sor­ships from three state-run en­ti­ties, in­clud­ing the scan­dal-plagued oil com­pany Petro­bras.

Levy said he does not re­gard the “spon­sor­ship” as govern­ment money, al­though or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee mem­bers ac­knowl­edged they lob­bied Brazil’s fed­eral Pres­i­dent Michel Te­mer for the out­lay.

NOT GOVERN­MENT MONEY

“This is a right Petro­bras has to pur­chase this spon­sor­ship as many other pri­vately owned and other state-run com­pa­nies do,” Levy said. “It is not govern­ment money that could be used for other things. It’s their ad­ver­tis­ing money.”

Levy then added: “By the way, they paid very lit­tle for it. It was very cheap for them.”

Levy said the an­nual salaries for its eight top di­rec­tors would be avail­able at the end of the year. The Brazil­ian news­pa­per Es­tadao re­ported last month the eight were paid an av­er­age of $25,000 per month in 2015.

Levy also said the au­dit re­sults of his bud­get would be made avail­able.

“We fol­low the rules of all pri­vate com­pa­nies that are listed on the stock mar­ket in Brazil,” Levy said. “Our (fi­nan­cial) state­ment can­not be doubted be­cause they are au­dited and pub­lished. I in­sist on that.”

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