SBD/April 14, 2014/Olympics

Concerns Growing More Serious That Rio Will Not Be Ready For '16 Games

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Economic and political issues have plagued Rio's preparation for the Games
Even with "lowered expectations, the preparation for" the '16 Rio de Janeiro Games is "clearly not up to snuff," according to Christopher Clarey of the N.Y. TIMES. Olympic and int'l sports officials last week, "concerned over the lack of construction and commitment in Rio, sounded the alarm in public at the SportAccord Convention in Turkey." Two major concerns included the "Deodoro complex, essentially Rio’s secondary Olympic Park, where major construction work has yet to begin, and the first Olympic golf course, which does not look remotely ready for golf." The economic and political context "has changed dramatically since Rio’s bid prevailed" in '09 as Brazil’s economy is "now suffering." Former IOC Marketing & Broadcast Rights Dir Michael Payne, a consultant to Rio's successful bid, said, "The situation in Rio is far more serious than anything the IOC faced in Athens. I don’t think it’s a case of someone shouting wolf or whatever." He added, "I don’t think the IOC has faced such a serious crisis relative to the delivery of the Summer Games ever." IOC President Thomas Bach "has not ruled out moving the Olympics from Rio." But it "still seems nearly certain that it will be Rio, two years after Brazil stages this summer’s soccer World Cup, which has plenty of its own concerns" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/11). In Chicago, Philip Hersh wrote if the Rio Games "turn out to be the organizational disaster they look like today," the IOC will "have only itself to blame." With "under 28 months to go before Rio’s opening ceremony, it would be virtually impossible to move an event as big as the contemporary Summer Olympics." However, the Rio situation "remains problematic -- far more so than it had been in Athens" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/12).

LATE FOR TEE TIME: GOLF WORLD MONDAY's Dave Shedloski notes the Brazil Open, a part of the NEC Series-PGA Tour Latinoamerica, has been "identified as the test event in preparation" for the '16 Olympic tournament. The event is scheduled to be "played on the Gil Hanse-designed Olympic course in the fall of 2015 -- though sources say preparations are being made to seek an alternate test site given the interminable construction delays at the Olympic layout." Hanse thinks a recent visit from the IOC "might have done enough to light a fire under the developer to complete the layout by this November, a slightly better outlook than recent estimates" (GOLF WORLD MONDAY, 4/14).

INCOMPLETE JOURNEY: In N.Y., Simon Romero in a front-page piece noted as Brazil "sprints to get ready for the World Cup in June, it has run up against a catalog of delays, some caused by deadly construction accidents at stadiums, and cost overruns." It is building "bus and rail systems for spectators that will not be finished until long after the games are done." But the World Cup projects are "just a part of a bigger national problem casting a pall over Brazil's grand ambitions: an array of lavish projects conceived when economic growth was surging that now stand abandoned, stalled or wildly over budget" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/13).
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