With the Sochi Olympics behind them, IOC leaders are gathering in Turkey this week amid growing alarm over Brazil’s troubled preparations for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Six weeks after the close of the Winter Games in Russia, the International Olympic Committee executive board meets in the Mediterranean resort of Belek to review a wide range of issues – none more urgent than the chronic construction delays that are putting some of Rio’s venue plans at risk.
IOC President Thomas Bach convenes his policy-making board Wednesday for a two-day meeting during SportAccord, an annual global sports industry convention.
Also meeting in Belek is the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations, whose leaders are deeply concerned about the construction hold ups in Rio.
Bach has said repeatedly that Rio “doesn’t have a day to lose” to get ready for South America’s first Olympics, mindful of the continuing delays for this year’s World Cup in Brazil.
The IOC’s coordination commission left Rio last month warning that the games faced “challenging deadlines” and again urging organisers and government officials to get things moving.
Olympic officials said the situation bears similarities to the 2004 Athens Olympics, whose delays became so critical that then-IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch reprimanded organisers with a “yellow card.”
The IOC has so far stopped short of issuing a similar warning for Rio, but the pressure is building.
The timelines are so tight that some sports federations are worried that their venues are in danger of not being completed.
In the past week alone, the head of Olympic planning for Rio’s municipal government resigned, more than 2000 construction workers went on strike, and Brazilian soldiers stormed a Rio slum in a bid to improve security before the World Cup.
IOC leaders are particularly worried that work has yet to begin on the Deodoro complex, an area in northern Rio which is supposed to house the second largest cluster of Olympic venues.
Work is also way behind schedule on the Olympic golf course. Peter Dawson, president of the international golf federation, said last week that a planned test tournament next year may not take place.
Severe water pollution in Rio’s Guanbara Bay has cast a cloud over the venue for Olympic sailing.
Many of the delays are rooted in disputes among Brazil’s three levels of government, including who pays for what.
Carlos Nuzman, head of the Rio organising committee, and chief executive officer Sidney Levy were due to appear before the IOC board in Turkey this week, but may now stay in Brazil for the meeting and report to the IOC by video conference.