RIO DE JANEIRO: The 10,500 athletes at next year’s Olympics will feel first-hand the deep budget cuts being made by Rio de Janeiro Games organisers: they won’t have air conditioning in their bedrooms unless someone pays for it.
The budget cuts are part of what organisers call finding “fat” and cutting it.
Mario Andrada, spokesperson for the Rio Games, said in an interview that organisers have found up to $520m that needed to be cut as part of balancing the operating budget of $1.9bn.
The cuts will be welcomed by those asking why Brazil with poor schools, under-funded hospitals and high taxes has spent more than $20bn to organise last year’s World Cup and the Olympics.
Asked specifically about the need for air conditioning in the bedrooms, Andrada replied: “We consider not providing air conditioning to the bedrooms because the games, though they will be summer games, they will take place in the winter.”
Though the games take place in the South American winter, it could still be hot this year on August 19 temperatures soared to 35.4 degrees Celsius.
Andrada said national federations might pay for some athletes, though it’s unclear if poorer federations could manage the added costs.
Rio Olympic organisers are being hit by a deep recession, a steep fall in the value of the local currency against the US dollar, and 10 percent inflation.
There is also a growing corruption scandal involving state-run oil giant Petrobras that has triggered impeachment proceedings against Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.
This wasn’t the mood in 2009 when Rio won the bid, setting off wild celebrations on Copacabana beach.
Rio officials say most of the cuts involve “behind-the-scenes” facilities, unseen on television or by ticket-paying customers.
This could involve organisers buying cheaper products and services, reducing signage or using more temporary structures.
The Rio Games were to have 5,000 employees when they open in eight months’ time, but that number has been scaled back by 500.
Andrada said the cuts would not affect the sports themselves.