Rio's mayor promises major party for Brazil Olympics

Paes says the Rio Olympics will be the most fun of all the Olympics Credit: PA

At the end of the London Olympics Boris Johnson passed the Olympic flag to his Rio counterpart Eduardo Paes.

It was like a giant ceremonial baton, and from the moment he took hold of it, Paes has been wrestling with the complexities of putting on sport's greatest show in a city which has many, well documented problems.

Heaped on top of the political turmoil - Brazil’s president was recently impeached - there's a deepening recession.

Then there are the usual challenges faced by big cities in developing countries – namely poverty, unemployment and deficiencies in education, housing and health care.

But Paes argues passionately that these issues will all be improved by hosting the Olympics.

Paes, right, always brings the conversation back to the same word: party Credit: ITV News

Not only that, he reflects that at the time, Rio's troubles were a winning part of the city's original bid - what the Games could do for Rio rather than the other way around.

It was "our greatest asset" he told me when we met in his sumptuous offices in a mansion, sitting directly underneath the city's iconic statue of Christ.

"We said if the Olympics is about change, what will they do in Tokyo, Chicago and Madrid? These guys, they've got everything, so come to Rio.

"The Olympics have meant a lot of important changes to a city that still have a lot of problems but it's an amazing country and it's an amazing city, it's going to be a great party."

Most important to him is what will be left when the party is over.

"It's going to mean much more to Rio [than London] because the change is even greater.

"We had less infrastructure so, from a legacy perspective, what's happening to the city, inspired by the Olympics is amazing."

Paes is quick talking and very charming with it. He is also very proud of his city and its people, the Cariocas.

Paes is very proud of his city and its people, the Cariocas Credit: ITV News

Paes does not believe the protesters who've taken to the streets in increasing numbers in recent months will target the Games.

He supports their right to protest as a healthy sign of how this democracy has grown up, but he is convinced the Olympics will be spared any violence or anger even.

Neither does he believe, as the Olympic family does, that venues will have rows of empty seats during Games time.

It is in the Carioca's make-up he says to make last minute decisions and the fact that so many tickets remain unsold, so close to the opening ceremony is not something anyone should lose any sleep over.

He is convinced too that the potential transport issues facing visitors to the Games will be resolved before they get underway.

If the Metro link is completed it would make the world of difference; if not you can expect to sit in queues for hour after hour on Rio's notorious, traffic clogged roads.

Paes belives the Games will do a great deal of good for Rio Credit: ITV News

But wherever our conversation goes, from politics to the Zika virus to forced evictions, Paes always brings it back to the same thing and the same word - party.

The Opening ceremony will not trawl through Brazil's history but concentrate on Rio today.

There will be no looking back but plenty of Rio's current personality and that means Carnival.

He says Rio's Samba rhythm will dominate a dramatic first night, welcoming the world to Rio and that beat will continue throughout the Games.

They may not be the most lavish or even the most sophisticated he says but they will be the most fun.

"I say don't come here expecting London because we are not as well developed as London is. You have to compare not London to Rio, but you have to compare Rio to Rio!"

On Assignment will be broadcast on ITV tonight at 10.40pm