News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Rio Is Ready, Says CEO In Charge Of 2016 Summer Olympics


The Olympic Games are less than six weeks away. And all eyes are on Rio. Officials there are having to juggle several issues at once, including the Zika virus. The CEO of the 2016 Games in Rio, Sidney Levy, is with us today. Welcome.

SIDNEY LEVY: Good morning.

WERTHEIMER: Could you give us your sense of rolling down on the six weeks to go?

LEVY: Rio is ready.

WERTHEIMER: Rio is ready?

LEVY: Rio is ready. We're feeling very good about it. And it's - we're ready to go.

WERTHEIMER: We'll get to the Zika virus in a minute. But could we talk first about another health risk, Guanabara Bay? Athletes are expected to compete in several water sports. We're still seeing reports that sewage is leaking into the bay.

LEVY: The first commission, of course, is the health of the athletes. For that, we run two test events. There is no single case.

WERTHEIMER: As far as the issue on everyone's mind, the Zika virus, several athletes have said that they're not going to come because of the risk. What are you doing in your planning to protect the athletes, to protect the tourists?

LEVY: The first thing that everybody has to understand is that Brazil, now, is in winter. The cooler temperature, the mosquitoes just die. So both the World Health Organization and the CDC issued a statement saying that in the winter months, Zika is not risk.

WERTHEIMER: They also issued some statement saying don't travel there if you don't have to.

LEVY: Well, but Cambridge University put the study saying that the risk of getting Zika during the winter months in Rio, it's 1-1 million.

WERTHEIMER: One of the things that is interesting to me is that so many situations changed between the decision to ask for the games, win the games and then put on the games. The Zika virus is one of those things. But the change of government, the outbreak of scandal is something that was not planned on (laughter).

LEVY: Well, we've been organizing this for seven years, totally different country, totally different people in power. So it's - our job is to adapt to that. And...

WERTHEIMER: That cannot be easy to do.

LEVY: It's very hard job. But the legacy money is public money. The organization money is private money. So that split makes us survive this whole set of crises.

WERTHEIMER: What about difficulties in the city government, lack of money, can't pay the police?

LEVY: So what we're doing, we're bringing 85,000 people to Rio - security forces, the army, federal police - to secure Rio during the games. So these people already been tested during the World Cup. We've been tested that - during the pope's visit with 2 million people in the streets of Rio, not a single incident. So we've done that before. It's kind of an occupation of the city to protect the visitors.

WERTHEIMER: Well, we wish you very good luck, Mr. Levy.

LEVY: We need it.


WERTHEIMER: Sidney Levy is CEO of the Rio 2016 Committee. Thank you so much for coming in.

LEVY: Thank you. My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.