Rio gover­nor: Games threat­ened by short­fall

San Francisco Chronicle - - SPORTS -

Rio de Janeiro’s act­ing gover­nor warned Mon­day that the Olympic Games could be a “big fail­ure,” be­cause of bud­get short­falls that threaten to com­pro­mise se­cu­rity and mo­bil­ity dur­ing the games.

In an in­ter­view with Rio’s O Globo daily, Fran­cisco Dor­nelles said the state is still await­ing an $860 mil­lion pay­out from the fed­eral govern­ment aimed at shoring up state cof­fers ahead of the Aug. 5-21 event. The funds were al­lo­cated last week but have not yet reached the state, and Dor­nelles warned that with­out them, po­lice pa­trols might grind to a halt by the end of the week, for lack of gas money.

“How are peo­ple go­ing to feel pro­tected in a city with­out se­cu­rity?” Dor­nelles asked. “I’m op­ti­mistic about the Games, but I have to show re­al­ity. We can have a great Olympics, but if some steps aren’t taken, it can be a big fail­ure.”

Rio has been par­tic­u­larly hard-hit by the re­ces­sion be­set­ting Brazil. The Brazil econ­omy shrunk by around 4 per­cent last year and job­less­ness spiked. The state is highly re­liant on sink­ing oil roy­al­ties, and prior govern­ments awarded bil­lions in tax ex­emp­tions that re­sulted in near-empty cof­fers.

An­other wor­ry­ing is­sue for Dor­nelles is the metro line that was meant to ferry tourists to the main Olympic venue in the far-western Rio area of Barra da Ti­juca. Promised for late last year, the metro is still not ready. A nearly $290 mil­lion fed­eral loan aimed at fin­ish­ing the project also has not yet been re­leased.

“I’ve said that with­out se­cu­rity and with­out the metro there will be dif­fi­cul­ties,” Dor­nelles said. He said the pol­icy of de­fer­ring or pay­ing state work­ers’ salaries in in­stall­ments “is a form of slave la­bor.”

For­merly Rio’s vice gover­nor, Dor­nelles, 81, was thrust into the hot seat af­ter Rio Gover­nor Luiz Fer­nando Pezao was di­ag­nosed with non-Hodgkin’s lym­phoma and took medical leave ear­lier this year.

60-year-old Olympian:

Dou­ble eques­trian gold medal­ist Sir Mark Todd will be­come, at 60, New Zealand’s old­est Olympian when he com­petes at his eighth Games. He will be at­tempt­ing to win his sixth Olympic medal, 32 years af­ter win­ning his first.

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