International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge on Wednesday defended the massive public spending on the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics in Brazil, saying the world’s two biggest sports events will create long-lasting benefits “for generations to come.”
Responding to the recent wave of protests across Brazil, Rogge said the billions of dollars being spent on the World Cup and Rio de Janeiro Games will bring major infrastructure improvements.
“Public investments are for the long term,” Rogge said in a teleconference. “Public investments are not for the short term. It’s not for the two weeks of the Olympic Games or the month of the FIFA World Cup. The investments are for generations to come, be it the metro, be it the bus line, be it improvements of the airport, be it of improvement of the harbor. This will serve the community for a very long time.”
The demonstrations that hit Brazil last month began as opposition to transportation fare hikes, but expanded to include a wide range of grievances, including the high cost of the World Cup and Olympics. The protests took place as Brazil hosted the Confederations Cup, a warm-up for the World Cup.
A Brazilian government report last year put the projected cost of stadiums, airport renovations and other projects for the World Cup at US$13.3 billion. City, state and local governments are spending more than US$12 billion on projects in Rio, the first city in South America to host the games.
Rogge said the committee will need to get its message across that the games will have a positive impact in Brazil.
“We’ll have to explain very clearly to all the public that the investments made for the Olympic Games are going to give a sustainable legacy for generations to come,” he said. “It has to be explained because on first sight most people don’t know exactly what the investments are.”
Hosting the World Cup and Olympics back-to-back poses major challenges to the country to finance and organize both events, but Rogge said Brazil is up to the task.
“I believe the FIFA World Cup will be a big boost for the Olympic Games,” he said. “I believe the FIFA World Cup will be a success. Organization-wise, it seems to go in the right direction.”
While Rio has experienced delays in some of its Olympic preparations, Rogge said the project remains on track.
“There is still a lot of things to be achieved before 2016,” he said. “We have urged our friend of the organizing committee to accelerate, but I remain optimistic and there is absolutely no concern whatsoever on the quality of the games.”