Acting Governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro Francisco Dornelles has warned the forthcoming Olympic Games could be a “big failure” due to financial difficulties that threaten security and transportation during the event.
In a hard-hitting interview with Rio-based newspaper O Globo, Dornelles said the state is still awaiting R$2.9bn (€743.4m/$838.6m) in emergency funds from the Brazilian government intended to shore up its finances ahead of the August 5-21 Games.
Dornelles had earlier called for federal funds to help meet obligations for public services during the Olympics. The state’s Official Gazette this month said emergency measures were needed to avoid “a total collapse in public security, health, education, transport and environmental management.”
The state of Rio’s revenue, which is dependent on the petroleum industry, has dropped in the past two years in line with the fall of global oil prices. The additional funds were allocated last week but have not been received by the state. Dornelles warned that without them, police patrols may cease by the end of the week, due to lack of money for fuel.
“How are people going to feel protected in a city without security,” Dornelles was quoted as asking. “I'm optimistic about the Games, but I have to show reality. We can have a great Olympics, but if some steps aren't taken, it can be a big failure.”
Funds from the central government are intended to be used to pay for security personnel and finish a much-delayed metro line. The subway extension is set to open on August 1, linking the Ipanema and Copacabana beach areas to the western suburb of Barra da Tijuca, site of the Olympic Park. It has been one of the major infrastructure headaches for local organisers.
Dornelles said the near R$1bn federal loan aimed at finishing the project has also not yet been released. “I've said that without security and without the metro there will be difficulties,” he added.
Dornelles’ comments come after another weekend of violence in Rio, which saw a police officer who had been serving as a bodyguard for Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes and a 34-year-old female doctor, Gisele Palhares Gouvea, killed in attempted muggings. Asked about Gouvea’s death, Dornelles said: “What a disaster. The security crisis is very serious.”