IOC urges Rio Olympic organisers to speed up work
LAUSANNE — Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics organisers were told on Tuesday they needed to push ahead with their preparations because time was an issue, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said.
Rio has not finalised its budget for the Olympics or the venues for several sports, including rugby, hockey and golf.
Rio organisers said last month the Sao Januario Stadium, home of soccer club Vasco da Gama, had missed the October 31 deadline and they would therefore revisit plans for the Joao Havelange Stadium to host the rugby sevens tournament instead.
"Our message remains that there is time but time is ticking. They (Rio organisers) need to carry on attacking this one with all vigour," IOC spokesman Mark Adams told reporters.
Brazil is also hosting the 2014 Soccer World Cup. Organisers for that event have also been urged to speed up preparations by world soccer governing body Fifa.
Adams said the IOC executive board also asked organisers about the state of the country’s economy, with new figures showing lower than expected growth. The economy posted extremely disappointing growth in the third quarter, piling pressure on President Dilma Rousseff to make deeper structural reforms and adding to fears that the global slowdown is hurting big emerging markets.
The economy grew just 0.6% from the second quarter, government statistics agency IBGE said last Friday.
Rio, which was awarded the games in 2009, is the first South American city to be picked to host the Olympics.
"Everything is on the way and on time," Rio 2016 president Carlos Nuzman told reporters after his presentation to the IOC.
"The budget will be ready next year. We are in a comfortable, good situation. We are in a very good road."
Nuzman also praised a decision by Rousseff to veto parts of a controversial royalties bill that pits Brazil’s oil-producing states against the rest of the country in a battle over future oil wealth.
Seeking a compromise on perhaps the most divisive issues to arise during her nearly two-year-old presidency, Rousseff vetoed clauses that would slash income for Brazil’s main oil states, including Rio de Janeiro.
"We have a fantastic decision from our president," Nuzman told reporters. "It gives Rio the recognition of the rights it has."
Meanwhile, eight-time Major winner Tom Watson says golf has no place at the Olympic Games.
Watson, who will play at the Australian Open this week for the first time since winning the tournament in 1984, said on Tuesday he did not support golf’s return to the Olympics from 2016.
"I still think of Olympics as track and field and not golf, to be honest with you," he said. "I don’t want to pour cold water on it, but I don’t think it should be in the Olympic Games."
Watson said golf had its four Major championships, which remained its pinnacle events.
Golf was played at the Olympics in Paris in 1900 and St Louis in 1904.
Watson supported the decision of golf officials to ban long-handle putters, but said he did so "with mixed emotions". He said a broomstick stroke "is not a stroke of golf. That’s not a stroke but it makes it easier to play. My son Michael, with a conventional putting stroke, he couldn’t make it from two feet, but he went to a belly putter and he makes everything."
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