Rio bid leader Carlos Nuzman said the IOC's report on the 2016 bid cities was "a real boost" for Rio. (Getty Images)
Rio 2016 top officials believe the report released Wednesday by the IOC Evaluation Commission gives them an edge in the final month of the campaign. President Carlos Nuzman tells Around the Rings, "It is fair to say that Rio has a completely positive report and possibly the most favorable among the cities."
The last time the IOC assessed the 2016 cities, in a March 2008 "working group report" covering the nine applicant cities, Rio ranked last among the four cities that emerged as official candidates.
The Evaluation Commission report comes exactly one month before the IOC vote in Copenhagen.
Chicago, Madrid and Tokyo are the other contenders.
"The report is a real boost to the Rio bid," Nuzman said. "The IOC has provided a very strong confirmation of our Games plan, project and vision, including providing a real social transformation."
The evaluation commission also recognized the finances and guarantees by three levels of government -- which have been a staple in all Rio presentations - and noted a presentation on the economy by the president of the National Central Bank. The report said the Games would leave "an affordable and significant legacy."
The public opinion poll conducted by the IOC showed 85 percent support in Rio - tying Madrid for highest -- and 69 percent in Brazil - well below Spain's 86 percent, but still second-highest.
The commission picked up on Rio's rallying cry of bringing the Games to a new continent. "Brazilian authorities believe that Rio de Janeiro's bid is a 'self affirmation' of the Brazilian people and consider it a point of honor to bring the Games to the country and to South America," the report said.
Criticisms were expressed as "challenges" and "concerns" in the areas of accommodations, the transport plan (impacting travel distances), the urban regeneration program and co-existing with the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Nuzman plays down potential problems.
"We have solutions for any recommendations of the IOC," he said. "Rio received the green light in all of the 17 themes."
Carlos Roberto Osorio, secretary general of Rio 2016, addressed accommodations concerns about availability of cruise ships, which are a major part of the plan.
"We are very comfortable with the cruise ship situation," he said, noting that cruise ships are already used for Carnival and New Year's Eve celebrations in Rio. "We
The IOC said hosting the 2007 Pan American Games was one of the benefits for Rio. (Getty Images)
have letters from all the cruise ship companies. We are not talking about inventing a cruise ship stop in a place that never has had cruise ships."
Osorio added that concerns about the Barra Media Village meeting the needs of its occupants is simply "a recommendation to careful planning" and to "take appropriate measures to have this big facility functioning."
The bid committee would also have to follow through on its transport operations plan because it would impact on travel distances for some athletes and other client groups. "Efficient implementation," the report said, "would be critical."
The commission said the Olympic Games in Rio would accelerate delivery of an extensive urban regeneration program "but would require careful management and monitoring."
The report added that hosting the 2014 World Cup would "accelerate infrastructure delivery and provide valuable organizational experience," but would represent "a challenge with respect to 2016 marketing and communications strategies."
Osorio said Rio already has made plans to meet those challenges.
"Very clearly, the IOC acknowledges that our revenue forecast is absolutely achievable and conservative," he said, noting that the conservative numbers were partly driven by having the World Cup two years before the Olympics.
"We have a comprehensive communications campaign that is very sound," he said. "We will go parallel to the World Cup, and in the last two years, the Olympic Games will be absolutely in the front pages and headlines. The IOC approved our strategies."
The commission said Rio would benefit from a continuity of leadership that goes back to the 2007 Pan American Games, through the bid committee and, eventually, to an Olympic organizing committee.
"We are very happy that the IOC noticed the good work being done," Osorio said. The commission remarked that negatives, such as safety risks in the city, had been turned into positives:
"Rio de Janeiro recognizes that it faces safety challenges and is undertaking an ambitious project to enhance the resources, technology and training of its police force by 2012."
Rio's bid leadership, meeting in London, sent out a press release within an hour of the 98-page report's appearance on the IOC Web site: "Evaluation Commission Report Confirms Rio Ready for 2016."Written by Karen Rosen.
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