The mayor said the IOC was satisfied with the preparations, though he did say he was concerned about work to be done on Rio’s Galeao International Airport.
Paes met with the President of the International Olympic Committee Coordination Commission, Nawal El Moutawakel; IOC Executive Director, Gilbert Felli; President of the Brazilian Olympic Committee, Carlos Arthur Nuzman and other officials at the city’s Olympic Headquarters to assess preparedness for the games.
The mayor said that despite media attention surrounding problems the city is facing, the planning and infrastructure projects remain on schedule and that the IOC was satisfied with their work.
Brazil’s tourism ministry expects almost 400,000 foreign tourists for the games, in addition to hundreds of thousands of Brazilians who themselves will add to the crush on airports, hotels, roads and other infrastructure.
After the meeting, Paes singled out a massive public transportation project made up of three bus rapid transit lines that will criss-cross the city and connect Olympic facilities.
“Everything is well within the deadline. I want to say that the TransOlimpica (bus rapid transit), the TransCarioca (bus rapid transit) are at full steam and will be completed next year, the TransOlimpica is already started, the TransOeste (bus rapid transit) as well. The Olympic Park is at full steam, the construction for the Athletes Village is at full steam, the media park has been started. A whole series of the city’s initiatives are all on time,” Paes said.
However, construction delays, cost overruns and overburdened airports, roads and subway lines have given locals a sense that Rio, the first South American city to be awarded the Olympics, has a long way to go if is to stage the event as seamlessly as London.
Rio’s airports, like those elsewhere in Brazil, are notoriously crammed and have strained with air traffic growth prompting Paes to admit the city’s main airport remained a concern for planners.
Earlier this month Aviation Minister Moreira Franco said the bids for a 25 to 30 year holdings would be heard in September.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has dramatically boosted the private sector’s role in big construction projects, a move that risks alienating her political base but has become necessary as Brazil prepares to host the massive events.
Critics fear the cost of the games could far exceed initial estimates of 29 billion Reais ($14.4 billion dollars).
High costs for materials and other inputs, bureaucratic delays, limited financing options and shortages of skilled labour often plague Brazil’s ability to get projects rolling on time.
The IOC visit was a planned routine trip.