By Duncan Mackay

September 27 - Brazil's João Havelange (pictured) has said that RIo de Janeiro hosting the 2016 Olympics would be the perfect 100th birthday present for him.

The former FIFA President, the oldest member of the International Olympic Committee, is due to reach his century on May 8 that year and cannot think of a better way of celebrating than watching the Games staged in South America for the first time.

Havelange said: "It will be a joy to celebrate my anniversary with such an event in my city."

Havelange was the first non-European or non-North American to head a major world governing body when he succeeded Britain's Sir Stanley Rous as the President of FIFA in 1974 and has worked as tirelessly on behalf of Rio's campaign as he did his own election all those years ago, despite being 93.

He said: "In the countryside, you have to work hard.

"I'll do anything to help my country.

"It is not easy.

"But we all do the best we can."

Havelange's claim, reported on insidethegames last week, that he has already received promises from 20 members of the IOC that they will vote for Rio when the election is held during the Session in Copenhagen on Friday (October 2), brought worldwide attention.

He said: "I sent letters to all voters for votes for my city.

"I think I'll succeed."

Rio, who never even made the short-list of candidate cities when London were awarded the 2012 Olympics four years ago, are considered the favourites along with Chicago to be chosen ahead of Madrid and Tokyo.

But Carlos Roberto Osório, the general secretary of Rio's bid, who is already in the Danish capital, has warned that much work still needs to be done before the final vote.

He said: "Rio de Janeiro has showed that this project is very serious.

"At the beginning of our work, we started with a focus entirely devoted to the technical part, the assembly of the composition, construction and guarantees the full support of public services.

"After the [IOC] Evaluation Committee's application, one can say that our work is the best.

"Rio has emerged as a real candidate.

"Brazil has never been closer to that dream [of staging the Olympics], but the struggle will continue until the end.

"As President Lula said, 'We must keep our feet on the ground and remain humble'."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected].

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