Rio de Janeiro wins out as host of 2016 Olympics
Rio will be the first South American city to host the Games. Chicago's loss is a disappointment to President Obama, who traveled to Copenhagen to promote the US bid.
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But Rio has had trouble controlling costs in the recent past. The city with a reputation as a Brazilian playground, thought blighted by crime and corruption, hosted the Pan American Games in 2007. While the event itself came off well, spending ballooned to six times the original budget, prompting critics to question the seriousness of organizers.Skip to next paragraph
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"I think we have no reason to trust the promises that are being made, and no reason to believe that any legacy will be left," said Juca Kfouri, a newspaper columnist and long-time critic of Brazil's sports administrators. "It [will] be a hemorrhage of public money, just as with the Pan American Games."
The Olympic Games' operating budget was set at $2.82 billion, with another $11.1 billion going toward projects to modernize and prepare the city for the event. More than $5 billion is set aside for transport alone.
Rarely on budget
If Rio brings in the Summer Olympics near cost, that will be first time that has happened in a long time. The Athens Olympics were originally budgeted at $1.5 billion. Actual cost? $16 billion.
Beijing, too, promised a summer Olympics for less than $2 billion. The real cost in that case has been estimated at more than $30 billion.
Montreal, which hosted the Olympic Games in 1978, was left with a financial hole in the city's budget that wasn't closed until 2005, according to economists Andrew Zimbalist and Brad Humphreys. In a paper on the economic benefits of the Games, they write: "Our review of the existing peer-reviewed evidence on the economic impact of the Olympic Games reveals relatively little evidence that hosting the Games produces significant economic benefits for the host city or region."
But prestige is, of course, hard to quantify, and President da Silva has been seeking to increase Brazil's global diplomatic and economic profile.
Rio plans to use 33 venues, including four soccer stadiums in other cities. It promised to renovate eight existing facilities, one of which will serve as the main track and field venue. Another 11 permanent venues are to be built especially for judo, wrestling, fencing, basketball, taekwondo, tennis, handball, modern pentathlon, swimming and synchronized swimming, canoe and kayak slaloms, and BMX cycling. A further 11 temporary structures will be constructed for sports like weightlifting, beach volleyball, and field hockey.
The IOC lauded the Brazilian bid, but prior to the vote also raised concerns over security and accommodation. The IOC report said Rio was reducing crime and increasing public safety but noted that Rio is by far the most violent of the four bid cities.
There is also a curious lack of hotel rooms in a city known as a tourist mecca. Rio promised to add 25,000 new beds between now and 2016 and said it would make up any shortfall by offering 8,500 beds on docked cruise ships.
Dan Murphy reported from Boston.