By Duncan Mackay

Tony_Blair_in_Rio_2_April_29_2011April 29 - Tony Blair has claimed that the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro offers Brazil an unprecedented opportunity to rebrand itself and attract new investment to help it improve its economic situation.

But the former British Prime Minister also warned that it could affect the reputation of the country if it things went wrong.

Blair was appearing at the World Economic Forum on Latin America in Rio de Janeiro having controversially not been invited to the Royal Wedding in London today between Prince William and Kate Middleton.

"It's a tremendous opportunity which is why people compete so fiercely to host the World Cup and the Olympics Games," said Blair, who played a leading role in the successful London 2012 Olympic campaign.

"You can use the Olympics as an economic platform to attract in a whole lot of different business and investment that surprisingly can go way beyond the sporting events.

"And people know the impact goes far beyond the three weeks of the Games."

Blair told the Forum that Britain had decided to use the 2012 Olympics to present a "different idea" about London, "a city of different faces, races, cultures, a very multicultural city, and to say: 'Here is something about London that you don't get on a tourist trip.'

"It's an enormous opportunity and yes, it is possible to get right.

"But it's possible to get wrong."

Renato Augusto Villela, finance Secretary for Rio de Janeiro State, told the Forum that they saw the Games as an opportunity to help reduce the gap between rich and poor in the city by upgrading the transport system.

"We look at the sports events as a catalyst," he told the Forum.

"Why do favelas exist?

"Because of lack of transportation people have to live in a place that's affordable so they tend to go to the slopes of hills close to the centre of the city."

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