Rio's Olympic Village faces hard times

Brazil's real estate slowdown threatens to leave apartments in Rio's Olympic Village vacant after the Games.

RIO DE JANEIRO (REUTERS) - Rio 2016 could be creating a real ghost town. Some 31 towers constructed for Olympic athletes in Rio de Janeiro are set to become luxury apartments after the Games are over, but many may wind up empty.

Sporting price tags as high as US$912,000 (S$1.2 million), developers say they've sold less than 7 per cent of the units. And a source says buyers are even returning the apartments.

Not exactly what officials had in mind at the time of the opening.

"Many consider what we have here today the best and most beautiful Olympic Village of all time" said Rio 2016 president Carlos Arthur Nuzman.

But Brazil's economic crisis and fears that few will reside in this remote region have slammed sales.

"The crisis in Rio was not created by the Olympics. It has been developing over many years as a result of very bad management of resources during the global boom in oil prices and a huge growth in government spending" said sociologist Mauricio Santoro.

The local government removed thousands of people from their homes to develop the area. This aquatics centre and handball arena at the Olympic Park will be removed after the Games as part of a plan to convert the area into apartment blocks, a school, park, and a shopping mall.

But sources say no new residential or commercial projects are planned, and they fear the site will be deserted.