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NEWS FEATURE Problems? What problems? Organizers laud Rio Games at midway mark By Derek Wilson, dpa

Europe
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The halfway point of the Rio Olympics has been reached with organizers keen to accentuate the positives of the Games so far.

Rio de Janeiro (dpa) - "Crisis? What crisis?" is one of the most famous political non-quotes in history and organizers of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro could be accused of adopting the same approach by mean-spirited critics.

In fairness to both the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the local Rio Organizing Committee, they have generally been quick to acknowledge several of the problems that have plagued the first Games in South America.

But despite this they have insisted that they are delighted with how things have gone so far.

"Halfway through ... we can say Brazil and the Cariocas (Rio citizens) have delivered what they promised," IOC Olympic Games executive director Christophe Dubi said.

"If we go back in time they said that we would have great venues - and we have spectacular venues.

"They said they would deliver a whole new infrastructure in the city that would benefit the citizens even before the Games. And this is what they have done.

"Importantly they said any one of you coming from outside Rio or from other countries, we will offer you a Cariaco experience and this is what we have."

Dubi was speaking on day nine of the 16-day long Games when 138 of 306 total medals had already been decided.

But while there have been superb sporting performances from the likes of swimmers Katie Ledecky and Michael Phelps in the pool, Mo Farah on the athletics track and a host of other romantic tales, no one could claim that everything on the organizational side has run smoothly.

There have been complaints about hygiene and poorly constructed buildings in the athletes‘ village, transport problems with buses, and, perhaps most serious of all, security concerns. A bus carrying journalists was attacked and a bullet landed in the media centre at the equestrian event.

And though some infrastructure has been improved, the final impact of such problems takes years to analyse.

While the Olympics was blessed with superb attendances at London 2012 four years ago, fans have not been flocking to all the Rio venues in huge numbers. Empty seats abound, even if the solution of handing out free tickets to the underprivileged and children is a worthy one.

And the fans who do turn up have been contributing to lively and cheerful atmospheres all across the city despite long queues at security and issues over the concession stands.

"With the event, you put smiles on faces, [and] you say that we‘re really where we should be midway through," Dubi said.

And there is also a tendency for the media to highlight problems in a way which is, perhaps, not fairly representative of the situation. A handful of complaints about the Olympic Village, say, from around 10,000 athletes is arguably not quite the disaster it is made out to be.

And nor are a couple of traffic jams or miscalculated journeys through a massive city of several million people.

"Our recap of the last week is a positive one, [but it‘s] very clear though it‘s not over, we still have a week in front of us,‘ local committee chief operating officer Rodrigo Tostes said.

"There‘s no time to celebrate but to be in a position to keep pushing and doing what we have planned for the last five years and executing the way we are performing right now."

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