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Thursday, November 7, 2013
1,000 days to Rio Games: time to start delivering

Associated Press

RIO DE JANEIRO -- The countdown to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro reaches 1,000 days on Saturday. Sidney Levy knows it's time to start producing tangible results.

Levy, the chief executive officer of the Rio Games, had something to show for his work Thursday with the unveiling of the pictograms that will represent every Olympic and Paralympic sport.

"I think this is a reinforcement that we are delivering," Levy told The Associated Press.

The pictograms feature curved, fluid lines meant to represent each sport and the natural curves of the hills and beaches that surround Rio de Janeiro.

The rollout was a good-news moment for Rio, which has struggled with delays that have raised concerns for the International Olympic Committee. IOC officials have repeatedly asked Rio to speed up work on venue and infrastructure construction, warning organizers they little cushion.

Ongoing street protests since the Confederations Cup five months ago -- a warmup for next year's World Cup -- have centered on Brazil's poor public services. About $15 billion is being spent on the World Cup, and a similar amount on the Olympics.

Levy took over in January and has been working for months to get an operating budget approved. Officials are saying it will be ready shortly. The original bid in 2009 listed the budget at $2.8 billion, but most expect it to reach $4 billion or more.

Rio's Olympics have been overshadowed by the World Cup and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. But that will soon change. The Rio Games open on Aug. 5, 2016, with the Paralympics on Sept. 7, 2016.

"We started with ideas and really nothing more," Levy said. "More and more in the next year there will be things you can see, you can touch, you can understand and feel. So this is the first step."

Carlos Nuzman, the president of the organizing committee and head of the Brazil Olympic Committee, was pressed about the pace of work.

"We are absolutely confident that all the construction projects will be delivered in the timeframe we expect," Nuzman said.

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