Rio 2016 in crisis as sports complain to IOC over lack of preparedness
Officials from 18 sports have complained to the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) ruling Executive Committee about preparations for Rio 2016, amid strikes by workers and a key meeting on the Games yielding no concrete measures.
During the first of two days of the IOC Executive Board Meeting here today, held alongside the annual SportAccord International Convention, a series of new measures were discussed on how to resolve the situation, including closer monitoring and reporting, although precise details are yet to be revealed.
Speaking after the meeting, IOC communications director Mark Adams confirmed they are aware of the concerns of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) over preparations for the Games.
He admitted they have “outlined its concerns for some time and said on a number of occasions that time is running out.”
But the IOC still believe Rio 2016 can deliver a good Games if the appropriate reaction is taken immediately, Adams claimed.
This follows more criticism at a meeting between the IOC and International Federations this morning in which only the International Volleyball Federation, run by Brazilian Ary Graça, and the International Weightlifting Federation have claimed to be satisfied with progress.
In the most extreme criticism, International Basketball Association secretary general Patrick Baumann raised the possibility of some Games venues being moved to other cities.
International Handball Federation head Hassan Moustafa had warned yesterday action must be taken now or Rio 2016 will be forgotten in Brazil amid the more immediate priorities of the FIFA World Cup and Presidential elections later this year.
The damning criticism comes after a meeting in Brasilia, described as “fundamentally important” to a successful Games by the IOC Coordination Commission when they visited the city last month, was held two weeks later than initially planned after being postponed on two occasions.
Although no one from the IOC was present, the two-hour meeting last night was attended by Federal, State and City-level authorities and the chief of staff of Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff, as well as Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman and chief executive Sidney Levy.
The meeting focused on funding and venue planning and reassurances were given that the Games will meet proposed deadlines.
But once again no concrete decisions have emerged and no details have been given about budgets or planning, with Nuzman, Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo and Rousseff’s chief of staff Aloizio Mercadante all choosing not to speak afterwards.
“The Brazilian Government reiterates that deadlines will be met,” the Sports Ministry said in a brief statement.
“All the guarantees exist for works to be handed over in time for test events, and the Games themselves will take place without disorder.”
Yet, following the severe criticism here yesterday during the ASOIF General Assembly, more supportive words will not be enough to reassure an Olympic Movement increasingly fearful that the Games are heading for a disaster.
Meanwhile, strikes by workers involved in construction on the Olympic sites in Rio, which began last week, have continued with more than 2,000 workers staying away yesterday.
The industrial action had begun last Thursday (April 3) after a dispute over which union represents the construction workers amid concerns over benefits and working conditions, and on Monday (April 7) there were exchanges of gun fire between strikers and security guards.
All of this adds more fuel to the fire of worries over whether venues will be completed in time.
Speaking here today, Rio 2016 sports director Agberto Guimarães tried to play down concerns to insidethegames as he insisted once again these are challenges which will not ultimately affect the success of the Games.
“The Government is dealing with the issue, it is related to labour disputes and trade unions, but I have a lot on my plate so I am happy to leave it to the Government to sort out,” Guimarães said.
“But it will be resolved and hopefully won’t delay things too much because the workers will work double shifts when they return.
“These sorts of issues affect all Games including London 2012 with the dispute over Greenwich Park being used for equestrian events.”
Guimarães claimed he was not surprised with the strength of the criticism from ASOIF during the General Assembly yesterday, admitting they have a right to voice their concerns about the preparation of sporting venues.
But he also spoke positively about the outcome of the meeting in Brasilia, and although he was yet to hear full details due to the time difference between Turkey and Brazil, he said he had heard that a message of “reassurance and full support” was offered.
Adams confirmed the IOC had spoken with other Rio 2016 officials via video link and that they had spoken positively about the outcomes of the meeting in Brasilia.
Adams claimed he knew of no current plans for IOC President Thomas Bach to undertake emergency visit to Rio de Janeiro following the suggestions he should during the ASOIF meeting.
In a statement circulated this evening by Rio 2016, it was explained how the Organising Committee have “listened carefully to the comments made in Turkey by the International Sport Federations (IFs).”
“We have taken their concerns on board and there is constant dialogue between Rio 2016 and all of our partners,” he said.
“Working as a team is the best and only way forward.
“We talked with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board today and the commitment to be frank and to work closely together was renewed, that is the spirit of partnership that we cherish.
“We are fully aware of the issues that need to be resolved and we are grateful for the input from all stakeholders.
“Progress has been made in the past two weeks, since the last visit of the IOC Coordination Commission for Rio 2016.
“We move ahead every single day and there is absolutely no question in our minds that Rio will deliver a great Games.”
This article first appeared in www.insidethegames.biz and is reproduced with permission.