Sports federations worried over Rio venue delays
BERLIN - Sports federations taking part at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics sharply criticized the Brazilian government on Tuesday over what they said were delays in venue construction and a lack of support as the country struggles to prepare for the Games.
Organizers of the first Olympics in South America have been urged to speed up and the International Olympic Committee has asked for better cooperation between the government and the Games organizers to crank up the speed of preparations.
"I have to share with you a lot of concerns as a member of the coordination commission for Rio 2016," Francesco Ricci Bitti, who heads the association of summer Olympic international federations (ASOIF), told its members at a conference in Belek, Turkey.
"We are satisfied with our relations with the (Rio 2016 Olympics) organizing committee but the support of the government is late and not sufficient.
"The cash flow is not positive and the support is late and not coming. They have many words but not money and words are not enough."
Rio 2016 organizers have fallen behind schedule on many projects and workers at the Olympic Park began a strike over pay on Monday.
Construction workers blocked one of Rio's main thoroughfares on Tuesday morning and warned the protests would continue.
"The delivery date is starting to be endangered...we are going to stop work for an indefinite period and the consortium will go to court," Carlos Antonio Figueiredo Souza, the president of the construction workers union Sintraconst-Rio, told Reuters.
The warning came a day after shots were fired when workers scuffled with security guards at the site.
The second Olympic park at Deodoro, which will house eight sports is also well behind its initial construction dates, fanning further concerns among federations.
The Olympic golf course is also facing problems with the IOC repeatedly saying the Brazilians, also facing delays for this year's soccer World Cup, did not have a day to lose.
"They are delaying, delaying, delaying," Ricci Bitti, an IOC member and head of the international tennis federation, said. "This is a concern of the Olympic movement and we have to take action."
The IOC said it was setting up individual task forces to monitor specific progress more closely.
"I still think we can pull this thing together and we can have great Games," Rio 2016 executive sports director Agberto Guimaraes told delegates at the same meeting. "I still believe we can do it. Please help me get through this alive and well."
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, additional reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier, editing by Justin Palmer)