Following International Olympic Committee Executive Director Gilbert Felli’s comments that Brazil’s successful hosting of the FIFA World Cup predicts an excellent Games in two years, IOC President Thomas Bach added his own praise for Rio’s preparations.
“We can really see there is a great dynamism in their preparations,” Bach said at the conclusion of a three-day IOC executive board meeting, the AP reports. “You really feel the determination and the enthusiasm of the organizing committee and their partners.”
He pointed to the start of construction on the Deodoro cluster of venues, where 11 sports will be competed, and positive progress on the anti-doping lab and main media center.
However, Bach also warned against becoming complacent. “We have to stay vigilant and there is still no time to lose,” he said.
He also expressed his admiration for Rio’s citizens. “The sports-loving Brazilians with all their enthusiasm will be wonderful hosts,” he said. Even after Tuesday’s 7-1 loss against Germany in the World Cup semifinals? “I can fully understand that today maybe in Brazil there will be this day of mourning. But the Brazilians are very optimistic people and they know that after each defeat there is a new victory waiting for you. I’m sure they will grasp this opportunity.”
Bach, a native of Germany, watched yesterday’s game alongside Carlos Nuzman, the Brazilian head of the Rio 2016 organizing committee. Bach politely restrained himself from celebrating excessively as his team scored goal after goal.
After the match, he hugged Nuzman and diplomatically told the AP, “Such a result can only happen when you have these kind of circumstances. Brazil was missing its best player. Neymar cannot be replaced and the other team was playing an excellent match and scoring.
“I really have a lot of respect for the sports-loving fans and public and nation, and I keep my fingers crossed for them for the (third-place) match.”
Bach will fly to Rio tonight and be at the Maracanã on Sunday to watch the final match. In 2016 the Maracanã will host the Opening and Closing Ceremonies in addition to the gold-medal soccer games.