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  • On the Scene - Rio Progress to 2016 Games


    First signs of construction at the Rio 2016 Olympic Park. (ATR)
    (ATR) Amidst signs of construction progress, organizers of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro play host to an inspection team from the IOC this weekend.

    The IOC Coordination Commission meets in Rio through Monday, most of the 17-member group heading south Tuesday for the IOC Session taking place in Buenos Aires. The panel is chaired by IOC vice president Nawal El Moutawakel.

    After three years of annual meetings in Rio, the commission is now on a twice a year schedule now that the London Games have passed.

    The IOC has expressed its concerns in the past about the tight schedule for construction which organizers admit is the case. But on this visit the IOC team can see an Olympic Park that’s ready for construction of nine key venues as well as the Main Press Center and International Broadcast Center.

    Maria Silvia Bastos, president of Empresa OlimpicaMunicipal, the arm of city government responsible for constructing the venues, tells Around the Rings Rio is picking up the pace of work.

    Rio Olympics construction chief Maria Silvia Bastos. (ATR)
    “What we are doing is looking at the master plan and venues to make them as simple and less expensive as possible, and then shorten schedules if possible,” she says.

    Now that decisions have been made on locating the venues for rugby and field hockey in the Diodoro cluster in the far west of Rio de Janeiro, Bastos says there are no more venue uncertainties to delay construction.

    She predicts that IOC will have “no surprises” when it completes this latest review of Rio progress.

    “They are updated all the time. We are very open. No srprises. They know what’s going on,” she says.

    Accommodation is still short of the 45,000 hotel rooms needed in 2016, but Bastos insists the 25,000 additional rooms required will be ready. Her office monitors the progress on a monthly basis she says.

    Workers ready the meeting room for the IOC commission at Rio 2016 headquarters. (ATR)
    For the leaders of the organizing committee which shares half of its downtown headquarters with Bastos and the municipal government Olympics staff, producing a budget for the operation of the Games has been a priority. COO Sidney Levy has been focused on delivering the spending plan, which the IOC commission has been waiting for impatiently.

    After some instability with the COO and other key posts in the OCOG executive staff, Levy appears to have been a settling influence in the seven months he’s been on the job.

    Rio communications director Mario Andrada. (ATR)
    As reported by ATR earlier this week, the IOC will be formally introduced to a new communications director, Mario Andrada took over the post this month from Carlos Villanova, who is returning to his career with the Brazilian foreign service.

    Andrada came to Rio after serving as Nike’s comms chief for Latin America and 20 years as a journalist before that.

    Andrada says Rio 2016 “has a beautiful story to tell” the world as the Olympics approach. And he says transparency will be a hallmark of how Rio will communicate.

    “Any decision concerning a venue, tickets, concerning volunteers, transparency means we go to the public and explain how we took this decision, why, what were the consequences. That is transparency. Transparency is a daily blow by blow dialogue with the public,” Andrada tells Around the Rings. 

    Written and reported in Rio de Janeiro by  Ed Hula

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