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SBD Global/April 10, 2014/Olympics

IOC Calls Talk Of Moving 2016 Rio Olympics 'Premature' Following 'Plan B' Demands

IOC President Thomas Bach said it was 'time for action' to prepare Rio for Olympics.
The IOC said Wednesday that it was "premature" to speculate about taking the 2016 Rio Olympics away from Brazil following demands from sports federations for a "Plan B" due to "chronic delays" in preparation, according Stephen Wilson of the AP. Bach and other Olympic officials said that the construction holdups and political paralysis "have reached a critical point, requiring the IOC to take special measures to save the games." Following "an unprecedented public outpouring of criticism and complaints" from int'l sports leaders about the lack of progress in Rio, Bach said, "It is about time for action. We share their concerns. We will address them. We will do everything we can do to make these games a success." Several sports federations asked about "Plan B" contingencies for their venues. Handball "asked if there was a backup for the games themsleves if Rio won't be ready in time." Leaders of 18 different federations spoke out about Rio's "troubled preparations" in a meeting with Bach and the IOC board. All but one -- volleyball -- "raised serious concerns." Association of Summer Olympic Int'l Federations President Francesco Ricci Bitti said, "The general feeling is that we are in the most critical situation in the preparation for the games that has happened in the last 20 years at least." Bach told delegates that he had told Brazil President Dilma Rousseff there was "not a single day to lose," and that the IOC's coordination commission for Rio warned organizers last month there was "not a single hour to lose" (AP, 4/9). The COLUMBUS DISPATCH reported top officials and Rousseff's chief of staff "met for two hours and repeated assurances that, despite well-publicized delays, test events and the games themselves will meet proposed deadlines." The meeting, which was described as “crucial” three weeks ago by IOC inspectors, "was postponed several times." IOC officials said that it "focused on funding and venue planning." Officials at the meeting, including Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo, Rousseff’s Chief of Staff Aloizio Mercadante and Organizing Committee President Carlos Nuzman "left without speaking to reporters and gave no details about budgets or planning." In a statement, the Sports Ministry said, “The Brazilian government reiterates that deadlines will be met” (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 4/9).

LANGUAGE BARRIER: In Boston, Katie Johnston reported Swiss int'l educational firm EF Education First "is getting ready to undertake what it says is the largest language training effort in history:" teaching English to more than 1 million Brazilians, for free. EF Education First, which has its North American headquarters near Boston, "is the official language training provider" for the 2016 Olympics. It "has been tasked with teaching or improving the English skills of staff, volunteers, contractors, executive committee members, and more than half a million high school students" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/9).
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Olympics, Brazil

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