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Bach defends Rio’s Olympic legacy work

Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), has said Rio de Janeiro should be given more time to deliver infrastructure that was promised as part of its Olympic Games legacy, following criticism of the Brazilian city’s progress on certain targets.

Rio hosted the Olympics and Paralympics last summer and the local organising committee had pledged to ensure venues and facilities were used and fully operational after the Games.

However, one year on from Rio 2016, many Games venues remain unused, while a new metro line does not extend to the main Olympic Park area of the city, as had been originally planned.

Speaking in London, Bach moved to defend Rio officials, citing the ongoing economic crisis in Brazil as one of the main factors that has hampered progress.

“You have to take into account the extremely difficult situation in Brazil which is the worst crisis this country has ever gone through,” Bach said, according to the Reuters news agency. “In such a situation, not all the legacy plans are coming to fruition…in the time they were planned for.”

Bach also pointed out that a number of venues used during the 2012 Games in London were closed for more than a year after the English capital hosted the sporting spectacle.

“After the games in London the park was closed…to do the refurbishments and to make the adaptations,” Bach said. “You have to give this opportunity to Rio 2016 and, given the very difficult circumstances, give them an extension of this time because, maybe in this emergency situation, they have other priorities.”

In June, Brazil’s federal agency for Olympic legacy (AGLO) said the cost of staging the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro had risen to R$43.3bn (€11.68bn/$13.09bn), around R$14.5bn more than was originally projected.

The latest financial assessments of Rio 2016 offered another demonstration of how costs inflated from the target of around R$28.8bn that was outlined when Brazil won the right to stage the Games in 2009.

As part of June’s announcement, the Brazilian sports ministry outlined its plans for the four venues it now controls in Rio’s Olympic Park. Officials conceded legacy planning is a major challenge, but said they plan to stage an average of three events per month at the Olympic venues from this month, with that number rising to 10 per month by December.