INTERVIEW-Olympics-Rio says self-sufficient for 2016 Games

Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:50pm EDT

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RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept 21 - Rio de Janeiro does not need foreign funding to stage the 2016 Games after abandoning plans to launch "Olympic bonds" worth $2 billion to help finance infrastructure projects, the city's new Olympics czar said on Wednesday.

Maria Silvia Bastos Marques, a former steel company executive who took up her new post in August, said the city was focusing on forming partnerships with private firms to complete stadium and transport improvements needed for Brazil's first Olympics.

"Looking at our projects, I don't see any need for any foreign funding. We have funding from the city Treasury and the federal government," she told Reuters in an interview.

"It's partly because the world isn't in a good moment -- capturing funds overseas is a little more complicated the way things are," she added, referring to the financial and economic malaise in the developed world.

The city's government said at the start of this year that 10 banks were interested in participating in Olympic bonds, but legal changes needed to approve the plan ran into bureaucratic hurdles.

Among the Olympic projects already in motion, the overhaul of the city's port area and the Sambadrome, a parade area known as the stadium of Samba, are being financed privately.

The Olympic village and the Olympic Park, where most events will be held, are expected to be constructed through public-private partnerships.

Work to expand the city's subway system and build new rapid-bus expressways to ease congestion are also underway.

WORK PRAISED

Rio's early Olympic work has been praised by the International Olympic Committee, in contrast to its lagging preparations for the 2014 World Cup that have been criticised by soccer's world governing body FIFA.

Marques said the city did not plan to take advantage of a new law passed by Congress that allowed for bidding processes to be streamlined -- a change that has been criticised as opening the way for overspending and corruption.

"The city is ahead of its timetable and delivering projects ahead of time," she said.

Rio bid officials originally said the 2016 Olympics would cost a total of 23 billion reais ($12.8 billion).

Marques said the figure would change because of various alterations to Rio's plans since it won the bid in 2009, adding that a new total should be released by the end of this year.

(Writing by Stuart Grudgings; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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