Wednesday 22 October 2014

London 2016? Plans to move Rio Olympics to UK amid concerns over Brazil’s preparations

TOMAS JOVINDA

Published 09/05/2014 | 16:26

Olympic officials have reportedly secretly asked if London would be in a position to take over games after progress in Rio was branded ‘critical’

Olympic officials have secretly asked if London would be in a position to take over hosting the 2016 games from Rio de Janeiro amid major concerns with the city’s preparations.

The informal enquiry looked to determine if enough of the venues used in the 2012 games could be brought back into use for the next Olympics in two years time, the Evening Standard reports.

The revelation comes as an International Olympic Committee vice president last month branded Brazil’s planning “the worst I have experienced”.

John Coates, who has closely monitored progress from Rio, told a press conference in Sydney that the city is “in many, many ways” further behind Athens was two years before the 2004 games -  the current benchmark for last minute completions.

Calling the situation on the ground “critical”, Mr Coates said the IOC has been forced to make an “unprecedented” intervention by forming a special task force to try to speed up preparations.

He added however that “there is no plan B” as the games could not be moved to a different city at such a late stage.

Since then, it seems that the IOC may well have changed its mind and started searching for a backup plan which could involve London.

A source told the Standard: “At a comparable planning stage in 2004 Athens had done 40 per cent of preparations on infrastructure, stadiums and so on. London had done 60 per cent. Brazil has done 10 per cent - and they have just two years left. So the IOC is thinking, ‘What’s our plan B?’

“Obviously, the answer would be to come back to London. It’s very unlikely but it would be the logical thing to do.”

Director of event consultants Allium, Will Glendinning, who worked on the London Organising Committee for the 2012 games said that there was “more than enough time” for London to prepare.

“Yes of course it can be done,”  he said. “One of the UK’s greatest exports is our major events capability. The expertise exists and regarding facilities we are a couple of years away.”

But a spokeswoman for the IOC said the possibility of Rio 2016 being moved to London was a “non-starter and unfeasible”.

Reports in England are suggesting that secret discussions have taken place to host the 2016 Olympics in London as Rio is falling behind in preparations.

The London Evening Standard has said that informal discussions have taken place within the International Olympic Committee as organisers in Rio have fallen badly behind schedule.

Some have described Rio’s current progress, or lack of, a shambles and growing panic has resulted in talks for London to host the games after a successful 2012 event.

IOC vice-president John Coates has called Brazil’s preparations “the worst I’ve experienced” and told a Sydney conference last month that construction had not begun on some venues, infrastructure was significantly delayed and water quality was a major concern with just two years to go.

“At a comparable planning stage in 2004 Athens had done 40pc  of preparations on infrastructure, stadiums and so on,” a source told the paper.

“London had done 60pc. Brazil has done 10 pc — and they have just two years left. So the IOC is thinking, ‘What’s our plan B?’

“Obviously, the answer would be to come back to London. It’s very unlikely but it would be the logical thing to do.”

London has been secretly asked if it would be able to take over the 2016 Olympics because Brazil is so far behind on preparations, the Evening Standard has learned.

An informal approach was made by Olympics bosses to discover whether enough venues from the triumphant 2012 London Games could be brought back into use.

The disclosure follows growing panic at the International Olympic Committee over the shambles in Rio, where organisers are badly behind schedule.

He told a Sydney conference last month that construction had not begun on some venues, infrastructure was significantly delayed and water quality was a major concern with just two years to go.

“The IOC has formed a special task force to try to speed up preparations but the situation is critical on the ground,” he said, calling the intervention “unprecedented”.

(Independent.co.uk)

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