Brazil says no risk of corruption in Olympics projects

Organising committee for Rio de Janerio Olympics claims no game venues were involved in corruption scandal

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Christ the Redeemer statue, front, is shown along with Sugarloaf Mountain in this aerial view Friday, Oct. 9, 2015, in Rio de Janeiro. The 2016 Olympic Games will be held in Rio de Janeiro.

The organising committee for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics said Thursday it is confident no games venues were involved in a corruption scandal upending the country's business and political worlds.

"We remain confident that the Olympic constructions, the sport constructions, are not (involved)," spokesman Mario Andrada told journalists.

Brazil has been rocked by allegations that construction companies colluded to overbill state oil giant Petrobras by billions of dollars, bribing corrupt executives and politicians to look the other way.

The scandal inched uncomfortably close to the Olympics on Tuesday when investigators said they had uncovered evidence of bribes paid for two projects related to the Games: upgrades to the Rio subway and port.

The country's largest construction firm, Odebrecht, has now vowed to cooperate with investigators, raising the possibility of a flurry of new revelations.

The Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre is shown in this aerial view Friday, Oct. 9, 2015, in Rio de Janeiro. The 2016 Olympic Games will be held in Rio de Janeiro. [AP]

Odebrecht is one of the largest participants in the construction projects for the Olympics, whose total budget is around $9.5 billion.

Andrada said organisers were preparing for possible "surprises" from the investigation, which is dubbed "Operation Car Wash."

"The best approach for what we see in Brazil is to follow up and adapt to the news as it comes," he said in a conference call with foreign correspondents.

"We cannot worry too much about things, we have to keep rowing in one direction."

With just over four months to go to the opening ceremony on August 5, Brazil's attention is largely fixed on the never-ending twists in the scandal, which is threatening President Dilma Rousseff's government.

"Everybody in Brazil is concerned. It's one of the biggest crises we have faced, it's huge," said Andrada.

But he added: "There is no concern about the Games moving ahead."

He said ticket sales are "as expected" -- 76 percent sold for the Olympics and 20 percent for the Paralympics, which open on September 7.

"Brazilians are late buyers," he said.