Road To The Olympic Games

Rio Olympic venues worry sports federations

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.

Rio Olympic chief has 'no doubt' in the success of the Games

The Rio Olympic Arena will host trampoline, and artistic and rhythmic gymnastics during the 2016 Summer Games. The international gymnastics federation is concerned about its readiness. ((Andrea Lee-Greenberg/CBC Sports))

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.

Members of the Association of Olympic International Sports Federations reviewed preparations for 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.

Ricci Bitti told delegates that IOC President Thomas Bach "is worried like you, like me" about details for Rio. However, Bach later said on Tuesday Olympics would be "spectacular" and a "great success" despite a political and economic crisis gripping the host nation.

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, 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 centre venue was "due to lack of funding," he said.

'The athletes will be happy'

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

Christophe Dubi, the Olympic Games executive director, and sports director Kit McConnell are "moving permanently" to the host city, Ryan said.

Dubi's predecessor, Gilbert Felli, was assigned to work with local organizers two years ago amid growing concerns about Rio's readiness.

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.

"Until today we have no involvement, no problems with any political or economic situation in the country," Nuzman said.

"I have no doubt we will deliver an incredible Games but it is important to remember the situation is completely different today," he said.

Brazil was awarded the Olympics in 2009 when it was enjoying a period of strong economic growth but has since fallen into its worst recession in decades. Brazil is also battling an outbreak of the Zika virus, which is linked to birth defects in newborns.

Official support

 Bach, speaking at the assembly of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF), called on the IOC to show solidarity with Brazil.
"We know the current economic and political situation in Brazil will continue to make final preparations challenging, but I'm convinced, and we are all convinced, that the Olympic Games 2016 will be truly spectacular," he said.
"The Olympic Games enjoy strong public support from the Brazilian people and the organisers can count on the solidarity of the sporting world."
Bach said that staging the Games was a "team effort" and that "the many successful test events which have already taken place are an excellent example of this team work."
"The sport facilities are either completed or about to be finished," he said. "We know from other host cities that the final stretch leading to the Olympic Games is always the most challenging."
"We're all in it together," he added. "If everyone plays their part, I am confident that these games will be a great success."

With files from Reuters

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