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SBD Global/April 30, 2014/Olympics

IOC's Coates 'Very Concerned' About Brazil's Preparations For 2016 Rio Olympics

A security guard stands outside the entrance to Rio's Olympic Park.
IOC VP John Coates has criticized Brazil’s preparations for the 2016 Rio Games as “the worst I have experienced,” but "has warned that it is too late to find an alternative host," according to Simon Hart of the London TELEGRAPH. In a "stinging rebuke to Games organisers" and Brazilian politicians, Coates said that preparations "were critically behind schedule and that the IOC had been forced to take the unprecedented step of sending in its own task force, including a construction project manager, to speed up building work." Coates said that "he had made six visits to Rio and the situation was worse than Athens in 2004, where the city came close to being stripped of the Games because of the massive delays." But Coates warned that "there was no alternative to Rio and that the city simply had to meet its deadlines." Coates: "The IOC has adopted a more hands-on role. It is unprecedented for the IOC but there is no plan B. We are going to Rio" (TELEGRAPH, 4/29). REUTERS' Ian Ransom reported the first Games on the South American continent "have been plagued by delays, rising costs and bad communication between different levels of the Brazilian government and organisers, prompting criticism from international sports federations." The IOC "announced a series of measures earlier this month to kick-start lagging preparations, including employing extra monitors and sending project managers and teams of experts." Although Rio organizers boasted the same number of staff as London's two years before the 2012 Olympics, Coates said that "they lacked experience." He "pointed to only two staff working in the Games' tests department, though test events were scheduled to start this year" (REUTERS, 4/29). In Sydney, Jacquelin Magnay wrote "frustrated about the lack of decision-making in Brazil, Coates revealed the IOC had embedded a team of IOC staff from Lausanne into the Rio organising committee." Coates said, “This is a city with social ­issues, and a country dealing with the FIFA World Cup. It is difficult. In my experience it is the worst. But we can’t walk away, if it comes off in this magical city it will be a wonderful experience for the athletes’’ (THE AUSTRALIAN, 4/30). The BBC reported Coates said that construction has not even started on some venues in Rio, while infrastructure is significantly delayed and the city has "social issues that need to be addressed." Coates, who was involved in the organization of the 2000 Sydney Games as head of the Australian Olympic Committee, said that "it was proving difficult for the IOC to get the answers they needed." Coates: "No one is able to give answers at the moment" (BBC, 4/29).
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