- Title: OLYMPICS-RIO/IOC IOC President confident in Rio Olympic planning
- Date: 28th February 2015
- Summary: RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL (FILE) (REUTERS) AERIAL OF THE MARINA DA GLORIA, PART OF THE GUANABARA BAY WHERE THE OLYMPIC SAILING EVENTS WILL BE HELD A SMALL COUCH FLOATING IN THE BAY
- Embargoed: 15th March 2015 12:00
- Location: Brazil
- Country: Brazil
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVA25SCTIIGF1Q7QNZSKHGEGXM8C
- Story Text: With just less than a year and a half to go for the start of the Rio Games, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said there was still much work to be done before the August 2016 games, but he was confident in the organizers of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro while emphasizing they need to say on pace if the city is to be ready to host the games come August 2016.
"Clearly, the organizing committee has to keep the speed in the preparations. You saw the progress, getting the venues off the ground. But you also see that there is still a lot to do and there is no time to lose. So, there, we see the work to be done, but we are confident that it will be done," Bach told reporters following the close of Saturday's (February 28) meeting at the Windsor Atlantic Hotel.
Bach was in Rio for IOC's Executive Board meeting in which they discussed plans for the Rio Games as well as other issues on the Olympic agenda including the 2020 Olympics which will be held in Tokyo.
A small group of protesters tried to interrupt the last day of the IOC meetings at the Windsor Hotel in Copacabana and a few even managed to enter the hotel lobby while Bach was presenting.
Bach said the pace must be kept not just on the massive Olympic Park and other sporting venues, but also on key legacy projects including infrastructure and new roadways, tunnels, subways and mass transit systems that were part of the city's bid.
Rio had also committed itself to reducing the amount of raw sewage pumped into the Guanabara Bay by 80 percent by the time the Games kick off in August next year.
The Bay will be the site of sailing competitions, but the state of Rio de Janeiro has hinted that it may not reach the 80 percent mark before the Olympic sailors hit the water.
Bach stressed the 80 percent threshold remains the goal.
"The state has confirmed, once more, that they keep the target of 80 percent. And the IOC has made it very clear that for us the top priority is, of course, a safe environment for the athletes taking part in the Games and in sailing in the Guanabara Bay," Bach said.
The clean-up of Guanabara Bay was a key part of Rio's bid and has long been a goal of various local governments.
Hundreds of millions of dollars have already been spent, but the waters remain polluted.
Olympic sailors, who have visited the city for test events, complained of floating sofas and animal carcasses in the water, described as a "sewer."
Biologists last year said rivers leading into the bay contained a bacteria, resistant to antibiotics, that can cause urinary, gastrointestinal and pulmonary infections.
Another hot-button issue has been the construction of the brand new Olympic golf course in the western section of the city.
The state-of-the-art venue is being built in one of the last undeveloped parts of the sprawling city and there is controversy over who actually has rights to the land.
Part of the course is also being built over previously protected lands angering environmental groups, some of whom were among the protesters outside the hotel on Saturday.
Critics have also complained about the irrigation system that will be used to water the course while much of Brazil is suffering from severe drought.
Bach said the IOC was working with and had met with environmentalists to consider their concerns.
"The golf course, as you can see, has cultivated a kind of wasteland before and there, as I was told, even some more of the natural resources which have been claimed for this have been given back to nature," he said.
When asked about a potential scheduling conflict between the 2022 Winter Olympics and the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, Bach said he expected FIFA to take a recommendation by a FIFA Task Force to host the Qatar World Cup in November and December.
This move would not clash with the 2022 Olympics which will be held over January and February in either Almaty, Kazakhstan or Beijing, China that same year.
"I assume that the executive committee of FIFA will approve the recommendation by the working group. I think this decision is a pretty logical decision. The president of FIFA and I agreed already, more than a year ago, that such a decision would be in the mutual interests because a clash between the World Cup and the Olympic Winter Games would result in a no-win situation," he said.
The World Cup is usually held in the June and July, but those dates have been deemed not feasible for Qatar where summer temperatures routinely exceed 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).
The 2016 Olympics in Rio will be the first time the Olympics have been held in South America.
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