Wed, Mar 25, 2015 - Page 19 News List

Sao Paulo still mulling hosting Olympic soccer games

AP, SAO PAULO, Brazil

Sao Paulo will not be able to guarantee its participation in the Olympic soccer tournament by the time the match schedule must be completed next week, local officials said on Monday.

Olympic organizers said they would 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 on the competition.

Beginning on March 31, fans who registered for tickets will be allowed to choose which Olympic events they want to watch, so the date and location for each soccer match must be known.

MAJOR HEADACHE

If Sao Paulo is eventually dropped, Olympic organizers will have a major headache trying to reaccommodate those who chose to attend matches in the city.

Sao Paulo Deputy Secretary of Sports Luiz Sales said 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 next month.

“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,” 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 Arena Corinthians where the matches are to 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 government to come up with the needed funds.

Officials have already said that, if the costs are too high, the city will not participate.

DEADLINE PRESSURE

Sales said the delay to make the decision happened because Olympic organizers took too long to deliver the list of requirements for the soccer 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 have been finalized.

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

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.

Soccer is the only competition that is to be played outside of the Olympic Games center of Rio de Janeiro.

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