Rio coordinating chief resigns

The head of the public body coordinating planning for the 2016
Olympics in Rio de Janeiro has resigned, raising concerns about the
city’s ability to stage the first games in South America.

The resignation of Marcio Fortes, who headed the Olympic Public
Authority, was confirmed Wednesday by the organization. The APO
said Fortes had handed in his resignation to Brazil President Dilma
Rousseff.

Fortes had complained that the office has lost its
influence.

The APO coordinates preparations for the games between Brazil’s
federal, state and local governments, but is not responsible for
delivery or construction of Olympic-related projects.

The resignation may concern inspectors from the International
Olympic Committee, who will be in Rio at the end of the month to
assess progress on preparations for the games. The IOC has
expressed concerns that planning and construction are moving
slowly.

Earlier this month, Leo Gryner, chief operating officer of the
local organizing committee, acknowledged $700 million in public
money may be needed to cover a shortfall in the operating budget.
He also acknowledged Rio got a late start on games
construction.

The operating budget – to run the games and not to build
infrastructure – was listed at $2.8 billion in the original bid
document. Gryner acknowledged in an interview with The Associated
Press, that the budget is likely to reach between $3.5-4
billion.

The cost of the Olympics and the 2014 Brazil World Cup are
getting some negative attention. Protests in June during the
Confederations Cup – a warm-up for the World Cup – focused on
Brazil’s poor schools and health care system, contrasted with the
spending on mega-sports events.

Small protests have continued since then, stressing priorities
in public spending.

Brazil is spending about $13.3 billion of largely public money
to stage the World Cup. Olympics organizers have yet to finalize
their budgets, but public spending on the event could match that of
the World Cup – or even exceed it.

Follow Stephen Wade at http://twitter.com/StephenWadeAP