BELEK, Turkey (AP) — With sports federations demanding a “Plan B” because of the chronic delays in Rio de Janeiro, the International Olympic Committee said Wednesday it was “premature” to speculate about taking the 2016 Games away from Brazil.
IOC President Thomas Bach and other Olympic officials said the construction holdups and political paralysis have reached a critical point, requiring the IOC to take special measures to save the games.
“It is about time for action,” Bach said following an unprecedented public outpouring of criticism and complaints from international sports leaders about the lack of progress in Rio.
Several sports federations asked about contingency plans for their venues and one — handball — asked if there was a backup for the games themselves if Rio won’t be ready on time.
Asked whether there had been discussion of moving the games out of Brazil, IOC spokesman Mark Adams stopped short of ruling it out.
“At this stage, that would be far too premature,” he said. “We’re not talking about Plan B. We’re still talking about delivery of the games.”
“The IOC has outlined its concerns for some time now — that time is running out,” Adams said after Rio organizers spoke to the executive board by video conference. “We believe that Rio 2016 can still deliver good games if appropriate action is taken immediately. The clock is ticking. Every day is crucial, but they can still deliver.”
Has Rio de Janeiro the guts? The city is now desperately behind schedule for its 2016 Olympics – one insider put it at 10% ready, where London was 60% ready at the same stage. But a visit earlier this month left me with an intriguing question. Could Rio’s chaotic planners make virtue of necessity? Could they be the first city to haul the Olympics back from its fixation with money and buildings, and restore them to sport? Could Rio fashion a sensation from a disaster?
The main Olympic park at Barra da Tijuca was until recently strike-bound. The secondary one at Deodoro is a military base and not even started. This month, the International Olympic Committee in Turkey declared “a critical situation” and demanded the Brazilian government do something. It set up a committee. The IOC spokesman, Mark Adams, had to deny rumours of plan B, to move the games from Rio altogether, but significantly failed to rule this out, merely saying “at this stage that would be far too premature”.