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Rio organizers may need $700M in govt money

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) - Olympic organizers say they might have to use $700 million in government money to meet the operating budget for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.

Leo Gryner, chief operating officer of the organizing committee, said Friday that as conditions now stand ``we need this $700 million.''

Gryner told The Associated Press earlier this week the operating budget could be as much as $4 billion. The original budget estimate of $2.8 billion was submitted before Rio won the games in 2009.

The operating budget is used to run the games and is separate from the capital budget, which is a mix of private and public money used to build needed infrastructure to support the games.

Gryner said any shortfall was caused by inflation and Brazil's slowing economy.

``Right now as our budget stands we need this $700 million,'' Gryner said at press conference to mark the three-year countdown to the opening of the Olympics on Aug. 5, 2016.

Gryner said the shortfall may develop if local organizers fall behind in landing sponsors.

``It depends on the economic situation, the environment,'' Gryner said. ``We have been very successful so far (with sponsorship). We are very confident, but one ever knows.''

He said local sponsorhsips have exceeded the 2012 London Olympics, which totaled about $1.2 billion.

``We have been able to reach above what London got for their games,'' Gryner said. ``So, so far so good. But you always have to look to the economic scenario. The thing is changing right now. You see our inflation was a little higher than planned. The growth of the Brazil GDP was less than expected. How this will impact on our revenue we can't tell right now.''

Rio organizers are expected to announce their budgets by the end of the year.

Brazil is spending about $13.3 billion of largely public money to stage next year's World Cup. The costs were a flashpoint for two weeks of protests in June during the Confederations Cup, the warm-up for the World Cup. Protesters said the money would be better spend to upgrade schools, a fragile health-care system and a creaky transportation system.

Public spending on the Olympics is expected to be similar to the World Cup, a possible strain in a country with persistent economic inequality.

Gryner said he expected the capital budget - a mix of public and private money aimed at building supporting infrastructure for the Olympics - could be 35 percent above the $11.6 billion listed in the original bid.


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