IOC balks at helping Rio de Janeiro with $35-40 million Olympic debt

2:58 | Olympics
Rio 2016: The athletes gave it all, and the city what it could
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Sunday July 9th, 2017

RIO DE JANEIRO – The IOC has balked at helping Rio Olympic organizers pay a debt estimated at $35-40 million.

The executive board of the International Olympic Committee, meeting Sunday in Lausanne, Switzerland, said it had already contributed a "record" $1.53 billion to last year's Olympics, and questioned giving more after meeting with organizing committee President Carlos Nuzman.

In a statement, the IOC said "more detailed information" was needed and said it "deferred any further consideration at this stage." It added that it "has closed all its obligations with the organizing committee."

Contractually, host cities and countries are obligated to pay Olympic debts.

In Rio's case, if governments step in to help pay creditors, it is sure to anger police, teachers, and other public employees who are getting paid late — caught up in Brazil's deepest recession in decades.

The IOC, trying to move on to future games including the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in seven months, said in addition to record help for Rio, there had been "an exceptional effort to significant cost savings and additional financial undertakings by all the Olympic stakeholders, which amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars."

The Rio Olympics opened just under a year ago and were plagued by organizational problems, spotty attendance, corruption scandals, and Brazil's worst recession in decades. At the last minute, organizers needed millions in a government bailout to hold the Paralympic Games.

Some infrastructure built for the Olympics has found uses — a subway line, a renovated port, and high-speed bus lines. But sporting venues are mostly vacant, a $20 million Olympic golf course is struggling to find players, and fewer than 10 percent of the apartments in the 3,600-unit Athletes Village are reported to have found buyers.

Last month, an AP analysis — supported by city, state and federal data — put the cost of the Olympics at $13.1 billion, a mix of public and private money. However, the exact figure is likely larger and may never be known.

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