By Karolos Grohmann
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) – The Rio de Janeiro Olympics may not have been perfect but organizers exceeded expectations given the political and economic situation in the South American country, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Tuesday.
Rio, the first Olympic host city on the continent, had to grapple with a protracted political crisis, the worst recession in more than 80 years and a string of organizational problems due to a lack of cash.
The run-up to the Games was an obstacle course for local organizers and the IOC had to put up hundreds of millions of dollars of its eventual contribution before the start of the Olympics to help out.
The Games’ anti-doping program was also affected by a lack of funding amid a widening Russian drugs scandal while venues were hit by problems including water quality in pools and a virtual absence of branding around the Olympic park due to issues with banner suppliers.
“From an operational point of view everything worked,” the IOC’s Olympic Games executive director Christophe Dubi told reporters. “Were they perfect? No.
“But with the results we can really take our hat off (to Rio organizers). It is amazing what they delivered considering their standpoint,” he said.
Dubi said the IOC was satisfied with the Rio Games especially with athletes’ performances that yielded 100 world and Olympic records and brought several countries their first medals and with global coverage which beat past records.
“We are right on target when you consider the money that was spent for these Games,” Dubi said.
Rio was awarded the Games in 2009 amid Brazil’s booming economy at the time and a different set of expectations by the IOC before the political crisis and the sharp financial downturn changed organizers’ plans.
They then had to deal with a daily barrage of questions and criticism regarding organization, with empty seats in venues and unsold tickets marring the start of the Olympics.
A lack of spectators was evident in even the most iconic venues during the 16-day event in August, including the Copacabana beach volleyball stadium on the famed Rio beach.
“Someone called them the most perfect imperfect Games,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. “It’s actually quite a good characterization.”
(Editing by Ed Osmond)