Olympic Games: Misery Likes Company

Published on April 20th, 2016

While doubts continue whether the Olympic sailing venue will sufficiently free of pollutants and debris, other sports also have concerns on the readiness of their venues…

International sports federations expressed concern Tuesday over problems with venues for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, including power failures at the gymnastics arena this week. Two top International Olympic Committee officials, meanwhile, will be dispatched to Rio for frequent visits to monitor the final preparations for South America’s first games.

Members of the Association of Olympic International Sports Federations (ASOIF) reviewed the status of the Rio Games, which open in less than four months on Aug. 5. “They miss some very important details in each field of play,” ASOIF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said at the group’s annual meeting during the SportAccord conference in Lausanne.

Ricci Bitti told delegates that IOC President Thomas Bach “is worried like you, like me” about details for Rio.

Rio’s sports director acknowledged to the 28 Olympic sports that the city’s seven-year preparations “were not perfect or up to your expectations” but said the games would be a success. “I can assure you that the athletes will not have any problems in games time, nor any of you in your events,” Agberto Guimaraes said.

The comments followed complaints raised by the gymnastics federation, known as FIG, which is holding its artistic gymnastics test event at Rio Olympic Arena this week. FIG official Ron Froehlich cited power outages lasting from 15 to 90 minutes, putting at risk athletes’ safety and the scoring system, plus missing equipment at an underfunded temporary training venue.

“Most important, they have problems with regard to the Omega (scoring) system,” Froehlich said. “Furthermore, power outages while the athletes were performing, which is a very serious issue.” The absence of flooring at a temporary training center venue was “due to lack of funding,” he said.

Earlier, ASOIF director general Andrew Ryan disclosed that two senior IOC officials will travel to Rio soon to work more closely on preparations.

In a later speech to SportAccord delegates, Bach thanked Olympic sports bodies for supporting Rio organizers, “even in challenging circumstances” in Brazil. “If everyone plays their part and continues to show this kind of solidarity I am confident these games will be a great success,” Bach said. “We are all in this together.”

Guimaraes also addressed longstanding problems of water pollution and “floating garbage” in Rio, and the possibility of officials’ accommodation — including a Trump hotel — not being ready, before giving further assurances.

“The athletes will be happy with the results they we have achieved,” he said. “You and your federations will be happy with the level of service that we will provide to you.”

Rio organizing committee head Carlos Nuzman said the impeachment process against Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff would not affect the final preparations.

Source: Graham Dunbar/AP

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