First venues ready next summer: Rio mayor

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Rio de Janeiro's mayor Eduardo Paes visits the construction site of the Olympic Park for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic games in Barra da Tijuca on December 19, 2014 (AFP Photo/Yasuyoshi Chiba)
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Rio de Janeiro (AFP) - The first venues for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics will be completed by August or September next year, the city's mayor promised on Friday during a site visit.

"In our heads, the Olympics start next year. We will start to deliver the venues in August-September," Eduardo Paes told journalists at the enormous Olympic Park, which covers an area of 1.18 million square kilometres 30km west of Rio.

Amid the bustle of lorries and cranes that whip up clouds of dust and in sweltering heat, the site at Barra da Tijuca has come on considerably in recent months, although most of the infrastructure will not be in place until only a few weeks before the Games, which will run from August 5 to 21, 2016.

Construction of the stands at the tennis venue is almost finished and the roof of Carioca Arena 3, which will host taekwondo, fencing and paralympic judo, is being installed.

Meanwhile, 70 percent of the underground infrastructure -- fibre optic network, lighting, drainage, sanitation -- is in place.

"It is a big challenge that demands effort from all of us. But I have no doubts that we are on the right road to deliver everything on time, which does not mean that we are kicking back and relaxing," added Paes.

The only site which is behind schedule, by three weeks, is the velodrome, but the mayor assured that this delay could easily be made up.

The city council has calculated the total budget for the Games at 36.7 million reais ($13.8m, 11.3m euros, £8.8m), promising that "there will be no surcharges".

Of that total, 57 percent is being financed privately.

More than a million Brazilians took to the streets to protest in 2013 and 2014 against the high public cost of organising the World Cup, demanding that more money be invested in health, transport and education.

Paes said that his city had successfully passed the World Cup test, but added that "staging a World Cup is much easier than staging the Olympic Games."