Hundreds of workers who worked to ensure the success of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in Brazil are still being owed and are planning to sue the Local Organising Committee, LOC, to get their money.
About 100 freelance contractors, who served as stadium announcers, show producers and DJs, and several hundred others who worked for the Olympics News Service, which produced written summaries about the sports and athletes at the Olympics and subsequent Paralympics are seeking ways to obtain their wages.
A South African freelance show producer, Rocky Bester, told The Associated Press, “I’m working with a legal firm that is already representing someone involved with Rio 2016, so they have a pretty good handle what is going on.”
Bester, who is the spokesman for the 100 contractors, noted that he has never experienced such problem at previous Olympics, adding that Rio was his seventh.
He said all he has received from Rio organisers are silence and excuses.
He said, “We’ve had robust conversations at other Olympics about payments, but it’s always been an open conversation.
“What is happening here is that no one is talking back. We’re sitting in the dark. We’re mushrooms at the moment.”
He termed it a “basic lack of respect.”
However, the Rio Olympics officials have blamed the delayed payments on their own sponsors, the Rio City Hall and the International Olympic, Committee, IOC.
Rio spokesman, Mario Andrada said, “We are paying, but not all the money we need to have for payments has been received.
“We are struggling a bit in making the ends meet.”
Bester added, “The guys who are suffering are the youngsters.
“It’s their first Olympic Games, it’s a prestigious thing. The last thing that is going to enter their head is they are not going to get paid.”
According to Bester, some contractors were asked to buy their own air tickets, and many have not been reimbursed.
The Organising Committee spokesman, Andrada, said several “first-class international” sponsors owe organisers, but he declined to name them.
He further explained that some of the payment delays were due to a month-long strike at Brazilian banks, which ended October 7.
He added that organisers were slow to pay bills, which created a “herd movement with creditors putting pressure on us.”
Andrada estimated that Rio organisers owed creditors “in the area of 100 million Brazilian reals” ($32 million), and added that, “Everybody will be paid.
“The trouble is the delay. We will pay the money.”