Brazil minister: economy, PanAms give Rio edge as Olympic host

Brazil Brazil's sports minister touted the country's economic boom and the success of the 2007 Pan American Games as reasons why Rio de Janeiro should be picked to host the 2016 Olympics. Orlando Silva leaves Monday for Athens, Greece, where the International Olympic Committee will release a short list on Wednesday of the four finalists bidding for the 2016 games. Rio's main competitors are Chicago, Tokyo and Madrid, Spain, while Czech capital Prague, Doha, Qatar, and Baku, Azerbaijan are also bidding. "The PanAm games were a great success and gave Rio credibility," Silva he told The Associated Press. "The installations were Olympic standard. Transportation, health, security, food, everything worked very well and was highly praised." Silva said Brazil's roaring economy also was a plus. The country paid off its foreign debt last year and was declared a safe place for foreign investors to put their money, with a debt upgrade this year from Standard & Poor's and Fitch Ratings. "The upgrade from two agencies reflects international confidence in the Brazilian economy," he said. "For all this, I think Rio has excellent chances."