September 28, 2009 / 6:42 PM / 9 years ago

Olympics-Rio 2016 bid has strong international appeal - Blatter

RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Rio de Janeiro has international appeal as host city of the 2016 Olympic Games, the head of world soccer’s governing body FIFA Sepp Blatter said on Monday.

That does not, however, guarantee winning the International Olympic Committee’s vote this week ahead of Madrid, Chicago and Tokyo, said Blatter, who is in Rio for Tuesday’s FIFA executive committee meeting.

“I can’t reveal my vote. It’s secret. But what I can say is that Rio’s candidacy has great international appeal,” said Blatter, who flies direct to Copenhagen from Rio for Friday’s IOC vote on the 2016 host city.

“But that popularity alone is not enough,” he told reporters after attending the launch of the construction of the Brazilian Football Confederation’s new headquarters in time for the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament being staged by Brazil.

Rio is seeking to become the first South American city to host the Olympic Games and Brazil’s bid organisers are confident they can win the vote because they believe the IOC is keen to see the Games venture into new regions.

They said they were not worried by U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to go to Denmark in support of his home city Chicago, saying Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva also had wide international appeal.

“We’re not worried. Between Obama-Chicago and Lula-Rio, Rio will win by a goal-fest,” the city’s mayor Eduardo Paes said.

Paes is hoping to take advantage of Blatter’s visit to reinforce Rio’s campaign for a leading role in the 2014 World Cup.

Apart from probably holding the final at the Maracana stadium, Paes is hoping FIFA will set up their World Cup headquarters and the international media centre in Rio.

Writing by Rex Gowar, Editing by Ed Osmond; to query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com

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