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  • IOC Chief Under Pressure as Rio 2016 Troubles Mount


    (ATR) As 18 sports federations vent major concerns about Rio 2016, Thomas Bach says the IOC will consider Plan B options to address growing frustrations.

    After a tense joint meeting of the IOC and ASOIF, at which several IFs called for a Plan B to resolve delays across the project, Bach told Around the Rings that discussions would be held by the executive board meeting in Belek on Wednesday.

    A glimpse of the IOC and ASOIF joint meeting (ATR)
    Bach listened attentively to the tidal wave of problems expressed by worried federations’ leaders.

    Asked by ATR how worried he was about Rio 2016, he said, “We share the concerns of the IFs, and we will address them this afternoon when we meet with the organizing committee and mayor.”

    He was asked by the Associated Press if there was a danger of the Games not taking place in Rio, and didn’t appear to rule it out.

    “I think there were different interpretations about Plan B today. Let us discuss this afternoon,” he said.

    In comments to ATR, Olympic Games executive director Gilbert Felli dismissed the notion of the Games being relocated. 

    “We will deliver,” he said.

    ASOIF president Francesco Ricci Bitti, who yesterday had made plain at the organization’s general assembly that swift and decisive action was needed to address the Rio 2016 crisis, said he wasn’t calling for a Plan B to move the Games “at this stage."

    The Italian head of the International Tennis Federation had called for Bach to travel to Brazil for more emergency talks with President Dilma Rousseff. He held crisis talks with her in Brasilia in January.

    Asked by ATR if he would consider another visit to Brazil to help speed up preparations, he said, “We will do everything that helps to make these Games a success.”

    At Tuesday’s ASOIF general assembly, the IOC revealed that special measures would be taken to accelerate preparations in Rio. These include the creation of task forces, including one charged with ramping up construction, and better cooperation between the IOC, Rio 2016, and the three levels of government.

    In his report to the meeting today, Bach spoke about these measures, referencing the verdict of the IOC watchdog for Rio 2016, which concluded its three-day inspection two weeks ago.

    “When I was there in January, we said there was not a single day to lose. When the coordination commission came back, they said there was not a single hour to lose,” he said.

    Twenty-eight ASOIF member federations attended today's meeting. (ATR)
    Rio 2016 president Carlos Nuzman will today present the outcomes of his meeting with Rousseff’s new Olympics tsar to the EB. The Brazilian president’s new chief of staff was appointed in January, but the first meeting under his chairmanship only took place Tuesday.

    Bach said the IOC expected to get a full picture of “what has happened, what has been decided, and how it will be implemented” later on Wednesday.

    The IOC chief applauded the 28 sports for accepting an increased burden of responsibility to help deliver the first South American Games. In recent months, ASOIF members have been urged to have a closer involvement in Olympic preparations than ever before.

    The German urged IFs to more regularly send their experts to Rio to exchange information with the OCOG’s sports department “because it is about time for action."

    Federations Vent Frustrations

    The International Canoe Federation president José Perurena gave Rio 2016 a “red card”, saying he was concerned the canoe slalom course would not be finished and blaming the municipal government.

    International Equestrian Federation president Princess Haya said there were “massive concerns” at the FEI about timelines of for venue construction and operational plans.

    Hockey chief executive Kelly Fairweather, whose sport was relocated to the Deodoro Zone, highlighted more problems affecting not just his sport but the other seven IFs who will stage sports at the second Olympic Park.

    “The reality is today I don’t know one federation in Deodoro which has yet to sign off on designs,” he said, adding that he had no construction timeline for the two Rio hockey venues. With building and operational plans being conducted in parallel, it gave “potential to multiply the risks."

    Fairweather said it would be “prudent to start contingency plans if things don’t advance with Deodoro soon. It’s not our wish, but might be the responsible approach to take.”

    The International Golf Federation was “very concerned” about construction of the golf course and suggested the IOC look at a contingency plan for its sport in Rio.

    Of the 18 sports federation leaders who took the floor, only volleyball was satisfied with the status of its Olympic preparations.

    “It seems I am the only one here with no problem,” FIVB president Ary Graça said.

    “You made our day,” Bach responded.

    Written by Mark Bisson

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