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  • ATR Exclusive -- IOC President on Rio Logo, Readiness and Favelas


    Rogge predicts the new Rio logo will be well-liked. (ATR)
    (ATR) IOC President Jacques Rogge, making his first visit to Rio de Janeiro since the 2007 Pan American Games, says he detects a change in the public mood. Since his 2007 visit, of course, Rio was selected to host the 2016 Olympics.

    “People are very excited about the Games, so there is a lot of enthusiasm. You didn’t feel that enthusiasm during the Pan American Games. There was a hope,” he tells ATR.

    “Now it’s more than a hope. It’s a responsibility. It’s an excitement – you can feel it.”

    Rogge is spending nearly a week in Brazil, getting updates on progress for the Games, visiting construction projects, participating in the launch of the new logo, and attending the inauguration of Dilma Rousseff as the country’s new president.
    Along with Rogge. the IOC contingent this week in Rio includes coordination commission chair Nawal El Moutawakel and Olympic Games Executive Director GIlbert Felli.

    On Wednesday, Rogge laid the foundation stone to symbolically launch the construction for the Olympic Village. Actual construction begins in January.

    He tells ATR that based on his experience as head of the IOC coordination commissions for Sydney and Athens, it will take up to three years to see the physical changes brought by the Games.

    Rogge has praise for the leadership and growing staff of Rio 2016, starting with Carlos Nuzman, Brazilian Olympic Committee president, IOC member and Rio 2016 chief.

    “He’s been an Olympic athlete. He’s a very intelligent, clever man, a hardworking person. He knows sports very well. He knows what it is to run a national Olympic committee. He knows how to deal with public authority in obtaining funding and support.”

    On January 1, Rogge flies to Brasilia to attend the presidential inauguration. It will be his first meeting with Rousseff. Despite the change in national leadership, Rogge says he’s confident of Rousseff’s support for the Olympics. Continuity is key, he says.
    Rogge at the foundation stone ceremony for the Rio Olympic Village.

    “There’s a new government, but the new president has been chief of staff for Pres. Lula, and the minister of sport is the same one.”

    Rogge also noted the re-election of Sergio Cabral as governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro. Cabral has been involved with the Games from its inception.

    Despite talk from the incoming president that tighter government budgets will be needed in Brazil, Rogge believes the Olympics will be unaffected.

    “From what I hear, there will be no effect on the Olympic Games. That is the feedback that I am having from my Brazilian friends.”

    Thursday Rogge will visit a favela near Copacabana, which has been the target of government programs to improve the quality of life in Brazil’s hillside slums. Rogge says the IOC supports the idea of the Olympics to inspire changes in the favela, as long as they don’t distract from the mission of staging the Games.

    “Obviously this is something we support and applaud. We would hope that the Games would give a positive legacy for the living conditions in the favelas, so that the favelas will be a better place to live.”

    With great fanfare, the new emblem for Rio 2016 will be unveiled during New Year’s Eve celebrations on Copacabana Beach. As many as two million people are expected to turn out for the celebration. Rogge calls the new logo innovative and creative: “I like it very much.”

    He brushed aside a reporter’s request for a sneak peek of the design, offering only vague hints.

    “It’s more than Rio. It’s also Brazil. It’s also the Latin world,” Rogge said.

    Written and reported in Rio de Janeiro by Ed Hula.
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