Former FIFA chief asks IOC to pick Rio as 2016 Olympics city

April 30th, 2009 - 2:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Rio de Janeiro, April 30 (DPA) Former FIFA president Joao Havelange, one of the most important personalities in the history of Brazilian sport, asked the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to chose Rio de Janeiro as the host of the 2016 Olympics.
“At my age, unfortunately, I no longer have ambitions in sport. But I do have one wish, which is to offer Brazil and South America the organisation of the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” he said.

Havelange, 92, made his speech in French before the members of an IOC evaluating commission that are currently visiting Rio.

IOC inspectors led by Moroccan former athlete Nawal El Moutawakel held Wednesday - behind closed doors - their first contacts with Brazilian authorities to hear about Rio’s plans for the 2016 Games.

In his speech before members of the evaluating commission, Brazilian Sports Minister Orlando Silva stressed the “total” commitment of the government of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva with Rio’s Olympic plans.

“We have a stable economy and a favourable atmosphere for investment. We are convinced of our ability, and our country has its arms open to host the world and the Olympic family in 2016,” Silva said.

On Wednesday, Brazilian officials focussed on convincing IOC representatives that Rio’s ambitious Olympic bid is realistic and viable, despite its estimated cost of $11.6 billion.

Rio de Janeiro Governor Sergio Cabral stressed that many of the works that are part of the city’s Olympic bid will be done anyway, to host the 2014 football World Cup, which is set to be held in Brazil.

“The 2014 World Cup is an important part of Rio de Janeiro’s bid. Improvements in the fields of hotels, security and transport will be useful for both events,” Cabral said.

Both Cabral and Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes stressed the mass events that have been held in the city in the past, the passion of Cariocas - as city residents are known - for sport and their “enthusiasm” before the chance of hosting the Olympics.

The IOC evaluating commission arrived in Rio on Monday, after similar visits to fellow-candidates Chicago and Tokyo. In their first two days in Rio, several members of the IOC group found time to walk or jog on the famous Copacabana beach.

The official visit will end Saturday, with the commission’s only comments before reporters during the evaluation.

The commission was set to travel on to Madrid Sunday, to evaluate the last of four candidates to host the 2016 Games.

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