The preparations for the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro are not going too well, it seems. According to a report from The New York Times, officials from the International Olympic Committee called Rio's lack of progress on development and the subsequent IOC response "unprecedented."
Brazil, which also hosts the FIFA World Cup this summer, finds itself struggling to get ready for the 2016 games, which has drawn significant concern from the international community. In April, international "experts" were sent to Rio to oversee the city's preparation prompting IOC Vice President John D. Coates to tell reporters that "[Rio is] not ready in many, many ways" and that the progress is "the worst I have experienced." Despite the IOC's trepidations, however, the games will remain in Rio for better or worse – "[Coates] rules out moving the Olympics to another city," the Times reported, and Coates said that "there can be no plan B."
The concerns focus on construction delays, citizen protests, and violence that has slowed Rio's development, including construction on the Deodoro Sports Complex, "the second most important site," according to the Times. Earlier this year, Rio's Olympic committee missed a budget deadline, and saw the resignation of one of its lead members, Maria Silvia Bastos. Her resignation was, too, in response to Rio's lack of progress.
It should be pointed out that this is about the time in every Olympic cycle that seems to bring out concerns over insufficient preparation. Just a few months ago, Sochi's preparations for the Winter Games brought out horror stories like the hunting and killing of stray dogs in the city, and the first week of the Games became a running joke about all the other "problems" that remained unsolved. Preparations for the Sochi Olympics were reported to be "till the last minute" just days before the games began.
The run-up to the Athens Summer Games a decade ago were notoriously distressing. They even brought in a whole new organizing committee when the city appeared far behind schedule. Just a few months before the games opened many Olympic sites were in mid-construction, and there were significant concerns that they would not be finished at all. ("A Race Against Time," read one headline). The IOC called the situation "urgent"and a Greek politician called it a "theatre of the absurd." Yet, the Games were generally well-received with no major logistical disasters.
So it's notable that members of the IOC are calling Rio's progress "the worst" ever. Though the games won't be moved and likely won't be delayed – even Athens made it on time – Rio's tone has changed significantly when discussing the Games. Once heralded (along with the World Cup choice) as a confirmation of Brazil's growth and status, 2016 is now a source of serious international concern and the city is now scrambling to cover costs and get it done on time.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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