Within days of describing preparations for the Rio '16 Olympics as the worst he has experienced, IOC VP John Coates "back-tracked on the criticism and said he was confident Brazilian organizers will deliver a great event," according to John Pye of the AP. Coates said, "I want to underline that I still believe that (the) Rio organizing committee and the people of Brazil can indeed deliver excellent Games in 2016." Coates' expression of concern on Tuesday was "an unusually blunt warning during an Olympic forum in Sydney." The IOC "attempted to defuse the tension following Coates' initial comments with a statement outlining changes already underway in Brazil." It said that there would be "more 'regular visits' to Rio by executive director Gilbert Felli, the senior troubleshooter sent to the city last week as part of a series of actions to tackle the delays." Rio organizers responded to the criticism by saying that they "know what needs to be done, and cited 'unequivocal signs of progress' recently in the city's preparations." Coates yesterday said that he was "heartened by reports from Felli on the progress and to hear that Rio was addressing the specific concerns of the 17 international sports federations that were raised at a meeting in Turkey last month regarding their venues" (AP, 5/1).
PYEONGCHANG ON TRACK: The AP reports the IOC is "convinced that preparations" for the '18 Pyeongchang Games are "on track, in contrast with concerns over the chronic construction delays" for the Rio Games. IOC Pyeongchang Coordination Commission Chair Gunilla Lindberg led the group on a "three-day inspection visit" to the city. She said that a "large amount of work had been achieved since the panel's previous visit in June last year" (AP, 5/1).