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IOC: 2016 Games will bring 'benefits' to Brazil

Riot police walk in front of a burning barricade made by protestors in Rio de Janeiro's sister city, Niteroi, Brazil, Wednesday evening, June 19, 2013. Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo city leaders said Wednesday that they reversed an increase in bus and subway fares that ignited anti-government protests. Many people doubted the move would quiet the demonstrations which have moved well beyond outrage over the fare hikes into communal cries against poor public services in Latin America's biggest nation. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) -- The IOC is "fully supportive of peaceful protest" in Brazil and confident the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will bring major benefits to the city and country.

Anti-government protests have spread across Brazil in the past week. Triggered by an increase in bus and subway fares, the demonstrations also have targeted the billions spent to host the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Games.

The IOC awarded the Olympic to Rio in 2009, sending the games to South America for the first time and rewarding Brazil for its emergence on the global economic stage. The current scenes of mass protests and police crackdowns have underlined the challenges ahead for Rio.

"The Olympic Games in 2016 will bring significant benefits to the whole population of Rio, improving the city in terms of transport, infrastructure and social housing, as well as bringing a considerable sporting legacy for Brazil," the IOC said in a statement Thursday to The Associated Press.

The International Olympic Committee said polls have showed that the majority of the population support the games "and the legacy they will bring."

The unrest also raised questions about Brazil's ability to provide security for the Olympics.

"We are always fully supportive of peaceful protest and remain confident in the ability of the Games as a powerful catalyst for improving the world through sport," the IOC said.

City, state and other local governments are spending more than $12 billion on projects for the Olympics in Rio.

The demonstrations have coincided with the Confederation Cup soccer tournament, a dress rehearsal for next year's World Cup.

In an interview with Brazil's Globo TV network, FIFA President Sepp Blatter said he could "understand that people are not happy, but they should not use football to make their demands heard."

"We did not impose the World Cup on Brazil," he said.