A meeting has taken place in Lausanne between all 28 summer International Federations (IFs), the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Rio 2016 in a bid to allay concerns ahead of this year’s Olympic Games.
The Federations were presented with ideas designed to increase the efficiency of the Games, such as the creation of open-space office areas, shared meeting areas and more cost-effective transport solutions.
It was the first time that the IOC has gathered all the International Federations in such a way before the Games, with Matt Smith, executive director of the International Rowing Federation (FISA), describing it to insidethegames as “really useful for us all”.
Rowing and canoeing have been hit particularly hard by budget cuts imposed by Rio 2016 after it was announced last month that plans for a 4,000-seater floating grandstand at the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas venue had been scrapped.
Abandoning the floating grandstand will save between BRL15.9 million (£2.8 million/$4 million/€3.6 million) and BRL19.8 million (£3.4 million/$5 million/€4.5 million) from the budget, it is hoped.
The decision is a major blow for the two sports due to be showcased at the venue, which is also facing criticism over high levels of water pollution.
“This meeting allowed us, FISA, to talk in person about operational plans for the Lagoa venue, including spectator seating options for the first time since information about the budget review exercise was released,” Smith told insidethegames.
“And it allowed us to offer our full support to the Rio 2016 team based on our vast experience in staging eight world class rowing events each year.
“The FISA events team has been together now for 20 years, me personally since the 1984 Games [in Los Angeles], and we have a ton of examples of ways to save money and be more efficient with budgets.
“And it was agreed that Rio will now use this information to study all possible options for spectator seating at this venue based on this new information.”
Smith added: “We have been totally committed to help Rio 2016 prepare these Games.
“One of our top staff members moved to Rio in 2014 to be competition manager for rowing so we are in daily contact and working extremely closely.
“Our technical delegates are giving this their full attention.”
Fears over budget for Rio 2016 are growing in the midst of the host nation’s worst recession for 20 years.
It was announced in October that budgets will be cut by around 30 per cent, with infrastructure and the volunteer programme suggested as the main affected areas.
Both Rio 2016 and IOC officials insisted these cuts would only take place in “non-vital” areas based on an assessment.
“We are all struggling with our own reduced event budgets across the board and this is absolutely another example that we have to be very efficient and make the Games financially viable for the future,” said Smith.
Asked about today’s meeting, an IOC spokesperson told insidethegames: “It was a positive working meeting.
“The International Federations particularly appreciated the update from the Rio organisers on Games preparations and the openness with regard to individual situations.
“This forum comes out of the Olympic Agenda 2020 recommendation, which aims to involve the Federations in all stages of Games preparations and it built on the ongoing discussions between Rio 2016, the IOC and the IFs.”
- By Daniel Etchells
- Republished with permission of insidethegames.biz