- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 22, 2014

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) - IOC President Thomas Bach wrapped up a two-day trip to Brazil on Wednesday, reminding organizers there is “no day to lose” in preparing for Rio de Janeiro’s Olympics in 2016.

After meeting Tuesday in Brasilia with President Dilma Rousseff, Bach crisscrossed Rio Wednesday to talk with state and local officials, visit venues and give a pep talk to employees of the local organizing committee.

Bach singled out a cluster of venues in northern Rio de Janeiro, called Deodoro, and said hard work was needed to get the remote area ready.

Construction has yet to begin with the cluster hosting events like shooting, hockey, equestrian, canoeing and BMX. Some basketball is also to be played there.

“The organizing committee and everybody involved know that there’s no day to lose because there’s still a lot to do,” Bach said. “A lot has been achieved in the recent months, but if you look at Deodoro, for instance, you see that every effort has to be made to have this ready in time.”

The cluster is the second largest of the games behind the Olympic Park area, which is west of Rio in Barra da Tijuca.

Bach, in his first trip to Brazil since being elected president in September, said he had “full confidence” in the organizing committee. He said Rousseff showed “a strong commitment” to the games.

The Rio Games - like Brazil’s World Cup in under five months’ time - have been plagued by delays and concern about the lack of coordination among Brazil’s three levels of government.

“I am very impressed with the progress that’s been made in the recent months,” Bach said.

After a long delay, Rio organizers on Thursday will announce their operating budget. The original bid document listed the operating budget at $2.8 billion, a figure that bid cities usually underestimate.

The operating budget is to run the games themselves.

About $11 billion more in public and private money will be spent on games-related projects, costs reflected in a separate capital budget. That budget will be announced next week.

Disagreements over the operating budget have lingered for months, with national, state and local governments debating who pays what. This is also an election year with Rousseff facing voters in October.

Public spending on the World Cup and Olympics has become sensitive since protests last year during the Confederations Cup.

Many Brazilians ask why billions are spent on two mega sports events in a country with stark social inequality, poor schools and soaring costs.


Stephen Wade on Twitter: https://twitter.com/StephenWadeAP

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