RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Rio’s security arrangements had impressed inspectors assessing the crime-ridden city for its 2016 Olympics bid, officials said on Saturday.
“The security and the safety are a top priority,” Gilberto Fell, a member of the 13-man inspection committee, told reporters on Saturday.
“We were surprised with the presentation about the new approach of the Brazilian government with the subject, that has already brought some success.”
Rio hosted the Pan American Games without serious incident in 2007 and amid tight security but critics said the crime levels rose again almost as soon as the event was over.
The inspection team said hosting the Games would help the government’s plans for developing the country.
“We were impressed by the fact that the Games fits perfectly into Brazil’s long-term planning development of the country,” said Nawal El Moutawakel.
“This Olympic Games comes right in the middle of a global vision led by President Lula (Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva).”
“We’re very impressed with what Rio has to offer the Olympic movement.”
Felli said that Rio would also benefit from Brazil’s hosting of the 2014 World Cup.
“It is something we witnessed in the past,” he said.
“Three countries - (West) Germany, U.S. and Mexico - held the Cup and the Games two years’ apart.
“Of course there are some challenges in some aspects of the preparation, but I would say the benefits are greater than the risk because most of the infrastructure for the Games would be prepared for the World Cup.”
Earlier on Saturday the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper reported that street dwellers had been rounded up in three key areas of the city before the inspection team visited.
The newspaper said their reporters witnessed the homeless being placed into buses and taken away.
The city government was quoted by the newspaper as saying it was a routine operation.
Editing by Greg Stutchbury