The track cycling test event for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games has been cancelled due to delays in installing the track at the Velodrome, the Organising Committee’s director of communications Mario Andrada has revealed today, providing another blow to preparations with less than five months to go.
Concerns had been prominent in the build-up to the event, which was due to take place from April 29 to May 1, over the readiness of the facility, located at the Barra de Tijuca Olympic Park.
It was initially supposed to be held between March 18 and 20 but was pushed back in a bid to allow more time for the track to be laid.
The decision was jointly taken by Rio 2016 and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), while the International Cycling Union (UCI) were also told.
The Aquece Rio International Track Cycling Challenge was supposed to be the first event to be held at the venue.
Andrada claimed he was “120 per cent” confident the Velodrome would be ready in time for the Olympics, with track cycling competitions due to be staged from August 11 to 16, while insisting it will be “Games ready” by May 31.
The news comes despite Carlos Nuzman, Rio 2016 President, remaining bullish earlier this month that the test event would still go ahead as scheduled in spite of fears over progress concerning the laying of the track.
Nuzman insisted the Rio 2016 venues were “90 to 95 per cent” complete, though he did single out the Velodrome as a problem area for organisers, admitting it would “need a little more work”.
As a replacement for the cancelled Aquece Rio International Track Cycling Challenge, a two-day training period on June 26 and 27 has been arranged in order to give the venue a “quick test”.
“We have encountered logistical problems concerning the installation of the track,” Andrada told a hastily-arranged teleconference.
“We thought it would be much better to be safe than sorry – we didn’t want to do anything which could cause injuries to an athlete.”
UCI President Brian Cookson exclusively revealed to insidethegames last month that cycling’s worldwide governing body were concerned about the state of progress at the venue and had warned “time was running out” for organisers to finish necessary work for the competition to be held as planned.
Rio 2016 claimed that the velodrome was 80 per cent complete in January, having been at 76 per cent the month before.
Back in September, the facility had been deemed to be 65 per cent ready.
Even with the progress, it has lagged behind other venues being built in the Barra de Tijuca Olympic Park, where every other arena is close to completion.
“It is not easy to tell a federation that you are cancelling a test event but the UCI were very supportive and in the end, they were okay,” Andrada added.
“They helped us to put together the training opportunity and they were very helpful to us in general.”
Several of the Olympic venues at Rio 2016 have experienced issues, with the water at Guanabara Bay, which will play host to sailing, still heavily polluted with various debris.
Installation of the Mondo athletics track in the Rio 2016 Olympic Stadium was delayed by at least a month following local hold-ups in preparation and unusually bad weather back in February.
Brazil also remains deeply embroiled in one of the worst political scandals in its history and up to 1.4 million people took to the streets to call for the impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff last week.
- By Liam Morgan
- Republished with permission insidethegames.biz