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IOC set to start working in Rio on 2016 Olympics

AFTER the excitement of bidding and the euphoria of winning, the reality of making the 2016 Olympics happen starts in Rio de Janeiro this week.

The International Olympic Committee is sending an expert team to Brazil tomorrow to begin shaping the US$14.4 billion (9.7 billion) games with Rio's organizing committee and government agencies.

"We start immediately with working with the Brazilians," IOC President Jacques Rogge told The Associated Press yesterday.

IOC team leader Gilbert Felli, executive director of the Olympic Games, said planning would begin during a two-day seminar for 300 Rio officials.

"Just to make sure that there is a good understanding of the Games preparation, and reassess maybe the weak points that they had during the bid," Felli told the AP at the Olympic Museum. "We have raised different issues that we believe needed careful follow-up."

Security and public safety was highlighted throughout the two-year bidding campaign before Rio comprehensively defeated Chicago, Madrid and Tokyo in an Oct. 2 vote of IOC members.

"That was one of those things we raised during the evaluation," Felli said. "It is important and we will have to see how to handle that."

Rio's reputation as one of the world's most dangerous big cities was revived two weeks after the vote.

More than 40 people were killed in gun battles between police and drug gangs in one of the city's sprawling slums. Three officers were killed when a police helicopter was shot down and crash-landed in a football field.

Felli said the IOC would bring Rio a message of support from Switzerland. He reminded that terrorist bombings left 52 people dead in London in July 2005, two days after the city was awarded the 2012 Summer Games.

"We are confident that (Rio) will deal with this subject," Felli said.

Rio's bid stated that federal, state and city governments would guarantee investment, including more than US$11 billion (7.4 billion) for building and upgrading stadiums, venues and transport links.

Felli said the IOC experts wanted to know how Rio would create a legal and management framework for the operation.

"We need to understand how the structure that's proposed to us will go forward. Legislation was proposed but has to be finalized," he said.

The IOC also will advise the organizing committee, chaired by bid leader and IOC member Carlos Nuzman, how to work with agencies responsible for construction.

Rogge voiced his support for a "seven-year process" to prepare Rio for the Olympics, though he is not currently scheduled to visit Brazil.

"I will wait for the organizing committee to be in cruising speed, and then I will come to Rio," the IOC president said.


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