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Former Rio Mayor Facing Corruption Charges over Olympic Golf Course

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In this Aug. 3, 2016 file photo, Rio de Janeiro's Eduardo Paes, center, holds the Olympic torch on its way for the opening ceremony of Rio's 2016 Summer Olympics, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo: AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo

A court in Brazil has agreed to hear corruption charges related to the construction of the golf course built for the Olympic Games last year against former Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes.

Prosecutors believe Paes, who denies wrongdoing, has a case to answer regarding charges of administrative impropriety.

They claim Paes, whose term as Mayor finished in December of last year, waived a costly environmental fee for the company who built the facility within the Reserva de Marapendi, Fiori Empreendimentos Imobiliarios.

Paes has always claimed he demanded Fiori Empreendimentos pay the fee for “authorization to suppress exotic vegetation” during the environmental licensing process for the course.

The company insist they would not have agreed to construct the venue had they known about the additional cost.

It is claimed not paying the fee caused the city to lose $1.3 million.

The row stretches back to December, when both Fiori Empreendimentos Imobiliarios and Paes had their assets frozen when the allegations emerged.

The company initially appealed after being ordered to pay the money.

According to prosecutors, they then contested the decision directly to Paes after their first appeal was turned down.

It marks the latest example of corruption investigations continuing to overshadow the legacy of Rio 2016 one-year on from the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The Rio 2016 course, which staged the first Olympic golf competition in 112 years, had been plagued with difficulties following the conclusion of the Games.

The course in Barra de Tijuca was billed as one of the foremost legacies of the Games beforehand and was due to provide an opportunity for thousands of locals to take up the sport.

It had been claimed that only a “trickle” of players were visiting the course each day.

Course managers Progolf have not been paid for two months, it is claimed.

There had been fierce opposition by environmentalists ahead of the Games due to a possible impact on local ecosystems.

Designers have since been widely praised for the way wildlife, including snakes, caimans and ground-nesting owls, was incorporated into the course.

According to update from the Brazilian Golf Confederation, published by the International Olympic Committee last week, the facility has played a major part in creating a bright future for the sport in the country.

The CBG claim there have been a number of legacy benefits from the course.

“The Brazilian Golf Confederation will always support any initiative that can help golf grow in Brazil and will be available to share our expertise and the experience gained from Rio 2016 to help keep the legacy alive,” CBG President Euclides Gusi said.

insidethegames has contacted the IOC and Rio 2016 for comment.

By Liam Morgan

Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz

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