By Duncan Mackay

February 3 - Tony Blair's new appointment as a paid advisor to the organisers of the Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympics has been attacked by Paulo Coelho (pictured with Pele), Brazil's best-selling author, who has claimed the former British Prime Minister is a "war criminal" and has "blood-stained hands".

Coelho, 62, whose book The Alchemist has sold 35 million copies in 67 languages, said Blair was unsuitable for the role because of the lead he took in the Iraq War.

Coelho was a part of the official Rio delegation that attended the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Copenhagen last October when it became the first South American city to be awarded the Games.

He said: "We are going to pay Tony Blair as an adviser for Rio 2016?

"An irresponsible person who declared an illegal war?

"I was in Copenhagen for the athletes, not for murderers.

"Not in my name.

"Not in my country."

Coelho claimed that he felt "ashamed" when he saw the pictures of Blair being presented with a Brazilian football shirt with his name on the back by Sergio Cabral, the Governor of Rio State, following a meeting with him at his house in London where they quizzed him about his role in helping the British capital win its bid to host the 2012 Olympics.

It was following the meeting that Blair was offered the paid role by Cabral, who was accompanied by Brazil's Sports Minister Orlando Silva and Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman.

Coelho said: "I was ashamed as a Brazilian when I saw such a symbolic shirt being handed to a war criminal.

"Blair's appointment will lower Brazil's reputation in the eyes of the world.

"He has no standing in his own country, he failed as a negotiator in the Middle East, he lost his job because of the Iraq War and he has the blood of English soldiers on his hands."

Cabral said: "Paulo Coelho is a fine author, but Rio can use the organisational skills of a political leader who won the 2012 Games for London."

Coelho, who was born in Rio de Janeiro, appears to be supported by a large majority of the Brazilian public, however.

An on-line poll by O Globo, Brazil's leading newspapers, found that 83 per cent were against the appointment of Blair, whose fees are set to be paid for by private sponsorship.

He is expected to start his new role with a key-note speech in Rio in May.

Coelho said: "At this stage I hope this was a bad nightmare, and the Brazilian private sector will not sponsor his participation.

"Nobody in their right mind will look for investments with a person who has the blood-stained hands.

"Let’s wait until May and see."

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