Rio de Janeiro

Rio 2016 says 38 percent of venues ready

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Eleven of the 29 permanent venues for the Rio Olympics and Paralympics are operational and do not need to be renovated for the Games, organizers said Wednesday.

“Of the 29 permanent venues, 11 are operational, while eight require some renovation work and the other 10 will form part of the sporting legacy that is being constructed in the city,” organizers said in a press release. “Eight temporary venues will also be used to host competitions.”

Delayed preparations for the first Olympics in South America are under scrutiny after the International Olympic Committee’s Coordination Commission said in March that “every second counts” and mentioned a “necessary sense of urgency” in constructing venues.

IOC executive director Gilbert Felli said last week that construction at the Deodoro Complex was two years behind schedule. Deodoro is slated to house venues for BMX, canoe/kayak, equestrian, fencing, field hockey, modern pentathlon, mountain bike, rugby and shooting.

“We are advancing in the construction of competition venues for the Rio 2016 Games, with all of the basic and executive projects concluded or in the conclusion phase, and with foundation works in full flow,” said Alexandre Techima, the Rio 2016 Infrastructure Integration Director. “Even though they may not be highly visible, the preparative groundwork and foundation construction, that occurs underground, are extremely important for the final structure and often account for 20 percent of the total volume of construction.”

Two reports in the last week cited unnamed sources that London had been secretly asked if it could host the 2016 Olympics and that Moscow was being considered as a replacement as well. The Moscow report said the International Olympic Committee would decide if the Games would be moved from Rio after the Brazil World Cup (June 12-July 13), citing an IOC source.

An IOC spokesman shot down both reports.

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WADA investigates report that 10,000 Chinese athletes doped

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BERLIN (AP) — The World Anti-Doping Agency is looking into allegations made by a German broadcaster that Chinese athletes benefited from systematic doping in the 1980s and 90s.

“The allegations were brought forward by former Chinese physician, Xue Yinxian, who is said to have looked after several national teams in China during the decades in question,” WADA said Monday.

Xue, who recently arrived in Germany and is seeking political asylum with her son, told broadcaster ARD that more than 10,000 athletes were affected, some as young as 11, and that anyone who was against doping was considered “a danger to the country. And anyone who endangered the country is now in prison.”

The 79-year-old Xue said she lost her job with the national gymnastics team after refusing to treat an athlete with doping substances before the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

She said she had not felt safe in her home city of Beijing since 2012, when she first made her allegations of doping. She first started working with China’s national teams in the 1970s.

“In the 1980s and ’90s, Chinese athletes on the national teams made extensive use of doping substances,” she told ARD. “Medals were showered in doping. Gold, silver and bronze. All international medals should be withdrawn.”

WADA said it will examine “whether such a system may have prevailed beyond these decades.”

The first step, WADA said, was for its “independent intelligence and investigations team to initiate an investigative process in order to collect and analyze available information in coordination with external partners.”

Xue, who continued to work at lower levels after being dismissed from the national team in 1988, said she was only approached afterward when athletes developed problems because of the substances they were given.

“One trainer came to me and said, ‘Doctor Xue, the boys’ breasts keep getting bigger,’” Xue said. “These boys were about 13 to 14 years old.”

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PyeongChang Olympic organizers downplay North Korea concern

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ANCIENT OLYMPIA, Greece (AP) — PyeongChang Olympic organizers played down concern over ongoing tensions with North Korea and also say work has been completed on all venues for the Winter Games.

Lee Hee-beom, president of the PyeongChang organizing committee, said the International Olympic Committee has made it very clear that the Feb. 9-25 Winter Games will go ahead as scheduled.

Speaking at the birthplace of the ancient Olympics shortly after the last rehearsal for Tuesday’s official flame-lighting ceremony, Lee said “there is no Plan B.”

Lee said South Korean officials are working closely with all relevant parties to ensure the Winter Games are safe and secure.

He said his main concern for the Olympics is the weather.

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