Rio de Janeiro, July 5 (IANS) Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes has moved to allay fears about security during next month’s Olympic Games, guaranteeing that the city will be safe for an estimated 500,000 visitors.
Paes’ comments came on Tuesday, a day after he described the state government’s handling of security as “terrible, horrible” in an interview with CNN, reports Xinhua.
But in an apparent attempt to tone down those comments, Paes said there was no need for foreign visitors to be alarmed. He did, however, reiterate his post-Olympics concerns for the city.
“Security impacts our lives. We are used to holding big events in Rio and seeing security improve for them,” Paes told the Globo newspaper on Tuesday. “When they call upon the army and other military forces, the situation is resolved.
“The problem comes after they have gone. That’s the challenge. Things are really bad. I don’t think it’s a terrible (state government)administration. There have been improvements, but the current situation is really bad. We’ve just had a weekend full of violent mass robberies. It can’t go on like this.”
Last month, the federal government agreed to hand the debt-laden state $850 million in emergency funds to ensure security during the Games starting on August 5.
The bailout came after the state’s police officers protested at Rio’s international airport with signs saying, “Welcome to Hell. Police and firefighters don’t get paid. Whoever comes to Rio de Janeiro will not be safe.”
Rio has been beset by a surge in violent crime this year. According to Brazil’s ISP public security institute, there were 1,715 homicides from January to April compared to 1,486 during the same period in 2015.
Last month, an Australian Paralympic athlete was robbed at gunpoint and two German TV crews had equipment stolen after their vehicle was hijacked by thieves.
Brazil plans to deploy 85,000 soldiers and police during the Olympics, about double the number used at the London 2012 Games.