August 21 - Larry Probst, the chairman of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), has concluded a trip to South America during which he visited Rio de Janeiro for the first time and inspected preparations for the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics.

Probst, who was accompanied by USOC chief executive Scott Blackmun and director of international relations Carolina Bayon, spent two days in the Brazilian city and held talks with Carlos Nuzman, the President of Rio 2016.

The delegation also carried out a number of site visits, including to the Maracana Stadium and flying over the city in a helicopter, and were briefed on the progress of the Games.

"I am pleased that with five years to go to the Olympic Games we could show our friends from the USOC the progress we have already accomplishe," said Nuzman.

"We are looking forward to collaborating with them through our preparations and welcoming the United States athletes in 2016."

Rio were awarded the Olympics and Paralympics in October 2009, beating Chicago, whose first round defeat triggered a period of soul-searching within the USOC and led them to conclude that they have to engage more with the international community.

"This trip was a unique opportunity for us to see all that the Rio 2016 team has accomplished in the two short years since their selection," said Probst.

"I'd like to congratulate Carlos and his staff for the extraordinary job they've done and thank them for their gracious hospitality.

"The Games are in good hands."

During the trip, the USOC group also visited Lima, Buenos Aires and Santiago.

"Continuing our focus on engaging the Olympic Movement and creating meaningful friendships around the world, we have placed a high priority on being a trusted partner within the Western Hemisphere," said Probst.

"South America is crucially important to the Olympic Movement in the years ahead and it's amazing to see the impact that sport is having all over the continent."

In Lima, Blackmun met with leadership from Peru's National Olympic Committee, including President José Quiñones and secretary general Francisco Boza.

In addition, he gathered with officials from Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas and toured the university's campus.

"This trip was an opportunity for us to learn from some of the smartest people in the Olympic Movement and continue to build genuine relationships within our Pan American Olympic family." said Blackmun.


By Duncan Mackay