The World Cup has done more than just lift the spirits of Brazilians who are thrilled their country is in the semifinals: It has given them the confidence to overcome delays and deliver the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro on time.
In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, IOC executive director Gilbert Felli said the situation has improved since he was dispatched as a special troubleshooter for Rio two months ago.
“Of course it remains tense, very tense, but we should look with more optimism,” Felli said. “Until the games are delivered I'm always concerned. But it's not the case to say we're not going to make it. … My view is we will make it and the Brazilians will deliver excellent games. But we have to work every day for it. Nothing is a done deal. They have better trust in themselves to deliver the Games.”
Part of the issue, Felli said, is a cultural one: Doing things at the last minute is customary for many Brazilians.
“They like adrenaline, to be pushed in the last minute on some issues,” he said. “So then we try to explain the Games cannot be like this. We've been able to explain that.”