Concern with preparations for Rio 2016, long bubbling beneath the surface, came shooting to the fore today after damning criticism during the General Assembly of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF).
Leading the way was ASOIF President Francesco Ricci Bitti who, from his opening address, repeatedly raised concerns and did so in stark and at times brutal terms.
“I have to share with you a lot of concerns as a member of the Coordination Commission for Rio 2016,” he said.
“We are satisfied with our relations with the Organising Committee but the support of the Government is late and not sufficient.
“The cash flow is not positive and the support is late and not coming, they have many words but not money and words are not enough.
“They are delaying, delaying and delaying.
“This is a concern of the Olympic Movement and we have to take action.”
On their visit last month, Ricci Bitti and his Coordination Commission colleagues did not directly criticise preparations for the Games.
They had, though, warned there was “no time to lose”.
A “fundamentally important” meeting would be held between the various levels of Brazilian authorities to sort out key issues, they had been promised.
This meeting has now twice been delayed and in the last two weeks two prominent officials associated with the Games, State Governor Sérgio Cabral and Municipal Olympic Company President Maria Silvia Bastos Marquez, stood down from their posts.
It has now been confirmed the meeting is being held today, although the outcome is unlikely to be known for several more days.
ASOIF secretary general Andrew Ryan claimed there were growing concerns related to transport, accommodation, funding, public support and financial commitments by state, municipal and federal levels of the Government.
In particular, there concerns over the construction of venues in the Deodoro Complex, where nine disciplines, encompassing eight International Federations, are due to be held during the Games.
He cited the equestrian venue, which needs a lot of work, the shooting venue, which needs substantial renovation to make it fit for Olympic standards, and for the other seven disciplines “there is nothing, there are not even workmen on site.”
Following on from the criticism last week by International Golf Federation (IGF) President Peter Dawson, Ryan claimed the golf course situated in the other Olympic Park in Barra urgently needs grass to be planted if it is to be ready in time.
Ryan concluded that “we shouldn’t shoot the messenger but we have to find a way to get the message across”, before announcing all the International Federations for sports due to be held in the Deodoro Complex will meet here tomorrow.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) official Christophe Dubi. who is due to take over from Gilbert Felli as IOC Executive Director for the Olympic Games later this year, insisted that “the IOC position on Rio is very clear”.
“We have to have special measures in place and have done similar things in the past”, he said.
“We have just come off the extreme success of Sochi .
“To get to that position was a constant battle and it was extremely tight.
“Sochi and Rio are not directly comparable but there are many similarities and we can learn from that example.”
In relation to construction he outlined how, “despite delays we have very clear timelines for each of the venues”.
“We need to fulfil every milestone to ensure delays are offset and close integration is needed between all parties,” he said.
“It is important that all of us speak from the same voice.”
Dubi added task forces were being introduced to address specific issues and that, despite standing down from his post, Felli would stay on in an advisory capacity to lend his great experience to Rio 2016.
“I hope it is enough,” said Ricci Bitti.
Following a break during which this criticism was digested, it was left to Rio 2016 executive director Agberto Guimarães to outline the steps being made.
The Italian insisted that Guimaraes “is a good driver and he has a good car” before adding, “he just needs some gasoline”.