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