Four months af­ter Olympics, or­ga­niz­ers un­able to pay some bills

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Al­most four months af­ter the Olympics ended, Rio de Janeiro or­ga­niz­ers are un­able to pay some of their bills, in­clud­ing $3.7 mil­lion owed to the In­ter­na­tional Par­a­lympic Com­mit­tee.

IPC spokesman Craig Spence told The As­so­ci­ated Press yes­ter­day that the money is owed for travel grants, which is part of the con­trac­tual agree­ment to host the Olympics and Par­a­lympics.

“Never have we faced an is­sue like this with an or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee be­ing so late pay­ing travel grants,” Spence told AP. The de­fault is the lat­est for em­bat­tled Rio or­ga­niz­ers, who have also been late pay­ing hun­dreds of cred­i­tors and con­tract em­ploy­ees. Spence said the un­paid travel ex­penses were dam­ag­ing na­tional Par­a­lympic com­mit­tees, par­tic­u­larly those with tiny bud­gets.

“Some of our smaller na­tional Par­a­lympic com­mit­tees, who took out loans to pay for their travel for the Games, are now in se­ri­ous dan­ger of de­fault­ing on their re­pay­ments,” Spence said. Cash-flow prob­lems, bud­get cuts and cost over­runs dogged or­ga­niz­ers in the run-up to South Amer­ica’s first Olympics. De­spite this, In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee of­fi­cials last week de­scribed the Rio games as “the most per­fect, im­per­fect games,” dis­count­ing empty seats, or­ga­ni­za­tional set­backs, and pea-green wa­ter in a diving and swim­ming venue.

As the Olympics opened on Aug. 5, or­ga­niz­ers needed mil­lions in a bailout from the city and fed­eral gov­ern­ments to fund the sub­se­quent Par­a­lympics. This broke a promise to use only pri­vate money to fund the $2.8 bil­lion op­er­at­ing bud­get. “We told ev­ery­body be­fore the Par­a­lympics that we were short for the Par­a­lympic Games be­cause of lack of spon­sor­ship and ticket sales,” Rio spokesman Mario An­drada said.

Spence said Rio CEO Sid­ney Levy shocked of­fi­cials just four weeks be­fore the Par­a­lympic opened, say­ing “there was no money to do the Par­a­lympics.”

The cash-flow prob­lems con­tinue, even as the com­mit­tee is down­sized and will cease to ex­ist later next year - save for lawyers to han­dle law­suits.

Spence said Rio or­ga­niz­ers have told him that money that should have gone to pay the travel grants was seized by other cred­i­tors - through a law­suit and court in­junc­tion - de­mand­ing pay­ment.

Spence said he was told these cred­i­tors in­cluded se­cu­rity and clean­ing com­pa­nies The is­sues have put the spot­light on Rio’s city hall and out-go­ing mayor Ed­uardo Paes. In the bailout pledge, the city com­mit­ted 150 mil­lion re­als ($45 mil­lion) with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment promis­ing an­other 100 mil­lion re­als ($30 mil­lion). An­drada said the city had paid only 30 mil­lion re­als ($9 mil­lion) so far, though or­ga­niz­ers have billed the city for at least twice that much.

Paes has been in the un­wanted spot­light re­cently. A state court froze his as­sets last week as a public prose­cu­tor in­ves­ti­gates whether he failed to as­sess an en­vi­ron­men­tal fee to the com­pany that built the Olympic golf course. This adds to sus­pi­cion about over­billing and fa­voritism in in­fras­truc­ture built for the Olympics and the 2014 World Cup. —AP

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