- Associated Press - Monday, March 23, 2015

SAO PAULO (AP) - Sao Paulo will not be able to guarantee its participation in the Olympic football tournament by the time the match schedule must be completed next week, local officials said Monday.

Olympic organizers said they will include Sao Paulo as a host when the schedule is released in the next few days, but it could be another month or so before the local government decides whether it wants to spend public money in the competition.

Beginning on March 31, fans who registered for tickets will be allowed to choose which Olympic events they will want to watch, so the date and location for each football game must be known. If Sao Paulo is eventually dropped, Olympic organizers will have a major headache trying to re-accommodate those who chose to attend matches in the city.

Sao Paulo’s deputy sports secretary told The Associated Press that the costs for hosting the Olympic tournament in the city are still being analyzed and a decision is not likely to happen before late April.

“There is still a lot to be done, we are still trying to figure out exactly what’s going to be needed so we can decide how much will have to be spent,” Luiz Sales said.

“We will have to wait a little bit more to know for sure whether the city will participate or not. We can’t sign the host contract until we have all the information.”

Brazilian club Corinthians, which owns the Itaquerao stadium where the games will be played, has already said it will not spend money to adapt its venue for the Olympic tournament, so it will be up to the local governments to come up with the needed funds. Officials have already said that, if the costs are too high, the city will not participate.

Sales said the delay to make the decision happened because Olympic organizers took too long to deliver the list of requirements for the football tournament.

“If we had received the requirements earlier, everything would have been easier and we wouldn’t need to do things pressured by a deadline,” Sales said after a meeting in Sao Paulo to discuss the city’s participation.

Sales praised the local Olympic committee for becoming more flexible in relation to the requirements, saying it understands that costs must be kept down as much as possible.

The committee would not make any comments after Monday’s meeting. It said last week that it would not consider a Plan B until all negotiations with Sao Paulo were finalized.

Despite the known concerns involving South America’s biggest city, FIFA included the venue as one of the six football hosts along with Salvador, Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, the jungle city of Manaus and Rio.

The southern city of Porto Alegre and the northeastern city of Fortaleza had previously indicated interest in hosting Olympic matches and could become options if Sao Paulo is dropped.

Football is the only competition that will be played outside of the Olympic center in Rio.


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