The International Olympic Committee shot down rumors this week that the 2016 Summer Olympics, currently scheduled to be hosted in Rio de Janeiro, will make an emergency move to London if preparations in Brazil continue to stall.
A report came out Friday morning alleging that the IOC recently approached officials in London about resurrecting their lightly used venues from the 2012 Games if the plans for Brazil never pan out. “An informal approach was made by Olympics bosses to discover whether enough venues from the triumphant 2012 London Games could be brought back into use," The London Evening Standard reported. The paper's unnamed source then offered statistical analysis making the case for another London games:
“At a comparable planning stage in 2004 Athens had done 40 percent of preparations on infrastructure, stadiums and so on. London had done 60 percent. Brazil has done 10 percent — and they have just two years left. So the IOC is thinking, ‘What’s our plan B?’ Obviously, the answer would be to come back to London. It’s very unlikely but it would be the logical thing to do.”
The chances of another London Games in 2016 are slim, but allegedly not completely nonexistent. Just last week, Olympic officials were on record saying the Rio games are disastrously behind schedule, so today's report was almost believable.
Speaking at an Olympic forum in Sydney, Australia, IOC vice president John Coates told the audience the Rio preparations are "the worst I've ever seen," and added they were "worse than Athens" to emphasize his point. That meshes with the numbers reported by the London paper. Overseeing the preparations is part of Coates' job — he has made six trips to Rio so far."We have become very concerned. They are not ready in many, many ways. We have to make it happen and that is the IOC approach, you can't walk away from this."
The London Evening Standard's report suggests they can walk away, but it may just be a scare tactic. As we noted before, nearly every modern Olympics had dealt with inefficiency, delays, and worries that whole venues wouldn't be completed on time. Yet, somehow things seem to magically fall into place before the torch is lit.
On the other hand, the nerves are compounded by the fact the World Cup will be in Brazil this summer, and with just five weeks remaining, several of the soccer stadiums needed for the tournament are still under construction.
If the report is true, London would become the first city to ever host back-to-back Olympic games. But Olympic officials aggressively pushed back against any emergency switch. "There is not a shred of truth in that," an IOC official told Reuters on Friday. The London report is “totally without foundation and totally unfeasible,” an IOC spokesman told The Associated Press.
Despite his own earlier comments, Coates himself admitted it won't happen: "The IOC has adopted a more hands-on role, it is unprecedented for the IOC but there is no plan B. We are going to Rio."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.