POSTED: April 3rd 2009

Lula pushes for South American Olympics

Dramatic Rio / Images: Rio 2016 - Ricardo Zerrenner
Dramatic Rio / Images: Rio 2016 - Ricardo Zerrenner

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT / Sports Features Communications

LONDON: Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is playing heavily the card for the Rio 2016 bid to host the first South American Games. President Lula included in his visit to London for the G20 summit a visit to the 2012 Olympic areas.

He said: "It is time to make the Olympics democratic. Developing countries have the right to host the Games. We are competing for the Summer Olympics. South America has the right to hold the Games."

Lula is pushing for more clout for developing countries and supports the idea that their growing power should be replicated in sport. He noted that apart from Mexico in 1968, Seoul in 1988 and the last Beijing Olympics the Games have always been held in developed countries.

“The Olympic and Paralympic Games in Brazil are an opportunity for the Olympic Movement to inspire a new audience of potential champions and embrace the entire continent of South America," he said.

"As we have seen this week during the Summit, the world is changing and leaders worldwide are embracing younger, developing economies and seeking to harness the opportunities that they offer.

“Rio is ready, the people of Brazil are ready and I am here today to let you know that I am ready. I hope that the Olympic family will also recognise this opportunity to inspire more than 180 million young people in South America and enable all of its citizens to discover and participate in the Games.

"We look forward to collaborating with all the members of the Olympic family to deliver weeks of wonderful sport and many years of inspiration, social change and sports development.”

Financial guarantees

Brazil has stepped to the plate with financial backing and the federal government has provided guaranteed against any losses incurred in staging the Games. The Rio bid has a projected budget of $14.4 billion but some of the infrastucture would be in place for the 2014 World Cup.

President Lula was accompanied by Rio Governor Sergio Cabral who affirmed the fact that Brazil can handle hosting large events as it is set to host the 2014 World Cup apart from the annual Carnival in Rio and extensive New Year celebrations.

These two events can draw up to one million people to the city. Rio successfully hosted the 2007 Pan American Games and also the 1992 Global environmental conference.

The scenographic panorama of the city’s beaches and green hilly background would lend itself to the televising and branding of a South American Games.

However, Rio is also challenged by the crime element of gang violence generated from the favelasscattered around the city and security troops have stepped in on more than one occasion to maintain control. Cabral also noted that the crime rate had fallen in recent years as authorities had ramped up monitoring and were vigilant on staying on top of the problem.

Rio is in competition with Chicago, Madrid, and Tokyo for the 2016 Olympics. The IOC decides in Copenhagen on October 2. 

Keywords · Rio · Olympic bid · 2016 Games · Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva · Sergio Cabral

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