Rio set for 'great' Olympics: IOC
Rio will stage a great Olympics, as long as it sorts out "millions" of details first, the head of an IOC fact-finding mission said Wednesday, AFP reports.
She even promised to dive into the filthy bay where the sailing events will take place.
"Brazil is showing the entire world that it can deliver a great Olympic Games," Nawal El Moutawakel, head of the International Olympic Committee's Coordination Commission, told a press conference in Rio.
She said that volleyball, triathlon, rowing and riding test events have passed off with no "major problems." Dozens more competitions designed to check the city's infrastructure are still to come, with sailing tests starting on the scenic, but heavily polluted Guanabara Bay this Saturday.
Despite her effusive praise for the Brazilian organizers, El Moutawakel said Rio was still far from Games ready.
It's "now about dealing in a timely manner with millions of operational details," she said. "You can imagine the loads of work that is expected from our friends."
El Moutawakel dismissed concerns over the Olympic rowing, windsurfing and sailing venues, saying that organizers are "doing their utmost" to ensure safe water.
"We will dive (in) together," she joked with an IOC colleague, then turned to the journalists covering the press conference and said, "I propose we all dive, all of you."
Best setting ever
Christophe Dubi, the IOC executive director for the Olympics, said that while promises by Rio authorities to cut 80 percent of Guanabara Bay's pollution have been abandoned, at least the competition areas will be clean.
Organizers are "ensuring the quality of the water for the athletes and that is what is being delivered," he said.
"We will have competitions with the greatest athletes, with the very best setting you have ever seen in the Olympic sailing competition," he promised.
At least half of greater Rio's sewage pours untreated into Guanabara Bay, as well as garbage carried in by dozens of rivers that environmentalists have described as effectively dead. At present, raw sewage even flows constantly into the marina that will host the Olympic racing boats.
IOC officials also addressed worries that impoverished Brazilians will be left behind by the global mega-event, which comes just as their country is sliding into recession.
"The Olympic Games enjoy strong support from Brazilians in the middle of economic and political crisis," she said. "We are aware what the country is going through."
Rio authorities say that a new metro line, a cross-city bus link, a revitalized port area and clusters of new sporting venues will be a huge boost to the dilapidated, but lively city.
However critics warn of delays in the metro line, officially due to open only two months before the Games, and say that the biggest beneficiaries of the Olympics will be the private investors behind infrastructure such as the Olympic Village, which will turn into a luxury residential area.
Thomas Bach, the IOC president, has said the Rio Olympics -- costing about 38 billion reais, which is currently just under $11 billion -- will be "the most inclusive" ever.
The 2016 Games will be the first held in South America.