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IOC's Bach confident Rio will solve problems before Games

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach gives a news conference after the Olympic Summit on doping in Lausanne, Switzerland, June 21, 2016. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/Files
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach gives a news conference after the Olympic Summit on doping in Lausanne, Switzerland, June 21, 2016. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/Files

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - The head of the International Olympic Committee on Wednesday played down problems with unfinished accommodation at the Olympics Village in Rio de Janeiro, saying he expected Brazil would host a "fantastic" games.

Arriving in the coastal city ahead of the first Olympics to be held in South America, which start on Aug. 5, Thomas Bach said every host city experienced last-minute issues with preparations.

"The last couple of days before the Olympics Games there is always one issue or other to be solved. The Brazilians will solve it," Bach told reporters on arrival.

"You can already feel the Olympic energy here ... so we are looking forward to a great Games and, as you know, we always had confidence in Brazil, in the Brazilians, that it will be a fantastic Olympic Games."

The build-up to the Games has been marked by concerns over a budget crisis in Rio de Janeiro, sparked by Brazil's worst recession since the 1930s, as well as an outbreak of the Zika virus, and a political crisis that has seen suspended President Dilma Rousseff placed on trial in the Senate.

Concern over Rio de Janeiro's preparations erupted on Sunday when the Australian delegation said it would not stay in the Olympic Village, as the housing was "not safe or ready" amid problems with leaky plumbing, blocked toilets and exposed wires.

Other countries such as Argentina, Italy and New Zealand also expressed concerns.

However, the Australian delegation praised Rio's swift response, after authorities deployed hundreds of workers to conduct repairs. The team was due to complete its move back into the official accommodation on Wednesday.

The 31 tower blocks of the Olympic Village, built at a cost of $880 million to house 11,000 athletes during the 17-day sporting event, will be sold as luxury housing after the Games are over.

Bach was due to inaugurate the Olympic pyre, which will house the flame during the Games, later on Wednesday.

A poll published on Wednesday in the Estado de S.Paulo newspaper said most Brazilians are pessimistic about the impact of the Olympics on their country.

The survey by polling group Ibope showed 60 percent of Brazilians believe the games, expected to cost around 40 billion reais (about $12 billion) will bring more harm than good to Brazil.

(Reporting by Pedro Fonseca; Writing by Daniel Flynn; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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