Facing severe budget cuts in almost all aspects of the games, the Rio de Janeiro Olympics have been boosted by Japanese electronics company Panasonic signing on as a sponsor of the opening and closing ceremonies.

In a statement, Panasonic said it would provide an array of equipment to project visual images and sound for the ceremonies of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Panasonic is one of the International Olympic Committee's top sponsors, but taking a role in the ceremonies is unusual and reflects the reality of Brazil's dire economy.

The country is in the midst of a steep recession, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is fighting impeachment, and inflation is running at over 10 percent. Hanging over this is a massive bribery scandal involving state-run oil giant Petrobras.

Brazil's attorney general also said last month he was investigating allegations that bribes were paid to a powerful lawmaker to help secure contracts for venues and other works for Rio’s games.

The economic crisis has forced cutbacks across the board for South America's first Olympics, making Panasonic’s aid very welcome.

“There is no doubt that Rio 2016 will present unique and spectacular ceremonies and Panasonic's technology and engineers will help deliver a great experience,” Satoshi Takeyasu, Executive Officer of Panasonic, said in a statement.

Rio organizers are trying to cut about $500 million in expenditures to stay within a $1.9 billion operating budget with the games opening in just under seven months.

The cuts reach everywhere, including the use of unpaid volunteers.

Fernando Meirelles, the Brazilian filmmaker who is part of the creative team for Olympic ceremonies, complained months ago about sharp cuts to the ceremony budgets.

Last week the Rio city hall and the Rio soccer club Botafogo blamed each other for about $250,000 in unpaid utility bills at the stadium that will be used for track and field at the Olympics. The stadium is also the home venue for the Botafogo club.

Administrators of Rio's Maracana football stadium also said last week they were firing 75 percent of the arena's staff in order to cut costs while the facility is under Olympic control.

The stadium will be a venue for Olympic soccer, and also the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies.


Stephen Wade on Twitter: http://twitter.com/StephenWadeAP