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Olympic officials rush to save 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games

April 10, 2014|By David Wharton
  • Striking workers stand in front the entrance of Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro earlier this week.
Striking workers stand in front the entrance of Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro… (Silvia Izquierdo / Associated…)

Amid growing concerns that Brazil might not be ready to host the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, Olympic officials have launched a series of emergency measures to jump-start the much-delayed preparations.

This latest effort follows months of sluggish construction, labor strife and governmental chaos in the host country.

“We believe that Rio can and will deliver an excellent Games if the appropriate actions are being taken now,” Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, said at a Thursday news conference.

The IOC boss stopped short of ruling out the possibility that the competition might be shifted elsewhere, telling reporters: “What I can say categorically is that we will do everything we can to make these Games a success.”

Olympic officials developed their plan at a two-day meeting of the executive board in Belek, Turkey. Among other things, they decided to dispatch senior executive and troubleshooter Gilbert Felli to Rio immediately, several months ahead of schedule.

Felli will oversee the creation of several task forces.

“We are not going to go there to point the finger,” he said. “Maybe what we can do is help them to work more together.”

Each of the task forces will address a specific issue, such as government affairs and public relations. A local project manager will be recruited to monitor construction.

The Brazilian government — with its often confusing, multilayered hierarchy — will be asked to form a single decision-making body.

The IOC is following a strategy that helped Russian organizers with their troubled preparations for the recently concluded Sochi Winter Games.

Bach said he outlined the game plan to Brazilian officials.

“We had this meeting in a very constructive atmosphere,” he said, adding: “The measures were very much welcomed.”


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