Laureus cancels Rio awards
The prestigious Laureus sports awards on Wednesday became the second international sports linked event in recent months to fall victim to Brazilian authorities concerns over public reaction to paying public money towards hosting the event
Rio was set to host the star-studded event in March for the second straight year but organisers revealed it would not be returning to the 2016 Olympic host city, amid Brazilian reports the Rio state authorities were unwilling to foot a bill estimated at $12 million.
The cancellation of this year's event comes just two months after the prestigious Soccerex conference was likewise cancelled amid organiser claims that Rio authorities were afraid of public reaction to spending local government money on the conference.
Those fears were based on the fact that this year's World Cup hosts had been the scene of widespread protests in recent months over the mounting cost of staging the football showpiece and the Olympics.
Soccerex said at the time that local authorities had cited concern at a potential "social reaction" to the Rio Government supporting and co-financing that event.
Although Rio denied security concerns, Soccerex insisted it complied with all of its own contractual obligations but that the Brazilians took a "unilateral decision to cancel due to (the perceived threat of) civil unrest".
In a statement Laureus said: "Laureus and the state of Rio de Janeiro have agreed that the 2014 Laureus World Sports Awards will not be staged in Rio. Laureus will announce its plans for this year's awards shortly.
"After a successful 2013 Laureus World Sports Awards in Rio, Laureus remains committed to supporting sports-based charities projects to help disadvantaged young people in Rio and Brazil, something which we have been doing for more than a decade," a spokeswoman told AFP.
Prior to the cancellation, the organisation had flagged up the event by saying on its website that the award "marks the beginning of an incredible calendar of sporting events in Brazil over the coming years," through the World Cup this June and the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Rio's state sports secretariat told AFP an "amicable" agreement had been reached between Laureus and Rio and also cited, as it had in the case of Soccerex, a "sports incentive law" granting sponsors and organizers tax breaks but ruling out recourse to state finance.
Jamaican sprint star Usain Bolt won last year's Laureus accolade.