Home News Rio's 2016 Olympics ...

Rio's 2016 Olympics bid counting on football

Aug. 14, 2008, 6:15 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) Forget Brazil's beaches, tropical rain forests and Carnival atmosphere. Organizers of Rio de Janeiro's 2016 Olympics bid are counting on football to help land South America its first ever games.

Rio is confident that by hosting the 2014 World Cup it can gain an extra edge and capture international sport's biggest - and most financially lucrative - event.

"The 2014 soccer World Cup is very, very important. It's the basis for the success of our organization," Rio 2016 president Carlos Arthur Nuzman said Thursday.

It wouldn't be the first time that a bidding city came from a country that had - or was about to - host the World Cup. Mexico City, Munich, Germany and Atlanta all held an Olympics within two years of a World Cup.

"The driver of our bid is the Brazilian sport," Rio 2016 secretary general Carlos Roberto Osorio said. "Sport is a fundamental tool for boosting Brazil's growth."

With players such as Pele and Ronaldo, Brazil has won a record five World Cup trophies. Bid organizers also see last year's Pan American Games as a key indicator in its battle with Chicago, Tokyo and Madrid, Spain.

"We organized the best Pan Am Games ever, at the Olympics level," Nuzman said. "This continent hasn't had the chance to organize the Olympics and Paralympic Games - now it's time, we're ready. Now, it's the moment."

Brazil's economy will be another factor with GDP and foreign investment rising as bio-fuels, iron ore and agricultural products power South America's biggest economy. It is currently the world's seventh largest economy and expected to move up to fifth by 2016.

Like Madrid, Rio's candidacy has gone to great lengths to highlight the sunny blue skies that have been lacking in Beijing. The green part of the campaign is backed up by renewable and sustainable energy. And the country's 8,000 kilometers (4,970 miles) of sandy white beaches will be utilized during the August Olympic period thanks to the balmy winter weather.

But Rio scored the worst of the four bidders in a technical evaluation, with its high crime-rate possibly hurting its chances when the International Olympic Committee makes its decision in October 2009.

"We are still a society with inequalities and the Olympic Games will help to reduce that," Osorio said.

The city has launched a social safety project and invested US$300 million in public security since 2007. Millions flock to Carnival every year with few serious incidents - not even when the Rolling Stones played to an audience of 1 million people at Copacabana Beach in 2006.