Rio 2016

AP

Rio Olympic velodrome damaged by fire

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The track and roof of the Rio Olympic velodrome was damaged in a fire Sunday when the building was struck by a small, hand-made hot-air balloon.

A charred area could be seen on the roof of the structure, and shots from TV network Globo showed a 20- to 30-meter portion of wood track surface had burned.

The racing surface was made of special Siberian wood, a requirement that made the velodrome one of the last venues to be ready for the Olympics.

The Brazilian sports ministry confirmed the incident with no injuries reported. In a statement it said the damage was being evaluated.

Despite being illegal, the release of the hand-made balloons — or lanterns — is common in Brazil. The balloons often cause fires when they land.

The incident took place just a few days short of the one-year anniversary of the Rio Games, which opened Aug. 5.

The velodrome cost about $45 million and, like a half-dozen other sports arenas in the Olympic Park, is struggling to find a use. Many of the arenas are boarded up, and the park in suburban Barra da Tijuca is largely vacant with few amenities for visitors.

Brazil spent about $13 billion in public and private money to hold last year’s Olympics, with some reports suggesting the overall cost is closer to $20 billion.

The costs are a flashpoint because Brazil is going through its deepest recession in a generation.

The state of Rio de Janeiro has been late paying teachers, police and pensions, and the military has been arriving in Rio over the last few days to try to control the city’s soaring violence.

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Rio Olympics cost $13.1 billion

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — An analysis by The Associated Press shows that the cost of putting on the Rio Olympics was $13.1 billion, paid for with a mix of public and private money.

Officials of Brazil’s Public Authority for Olympic Legacy said at a news conference Wednesday, the cost for “sports-related venues” was 7.23 billion reals ($2.06 billion). In addition, the Rio organizing committee previously said the cost of running the Games at 9 billion reals ($2.8 billion).

The Olympic legacy body did not account for other Olympic-related costs. But the AP obtained them in emailed statements from city, state and federal agencies.

Those costs were 26.385 billion reals ($8.2 billion) for, among other things, a subway line, a doping laboratory, a renovated port and cleanup of polluted Guanabara Bay.

The doping laboratory was paid for by the federal government and cost 163.7 million reals ($50 million). A delay-plagued subway line project that was built to connect fans to Olympic Park had a price tag of 9.7 billion reals ($2.98 billion). According to a state auditor’s report cited in August, the railway was overbilled by 25 percent.

Another legacy project, the renovation of Porto Maravilha, a run-down historic area in Rio, cost the city 10 billion reals ($4.2 billion).

“Should a country with such inequality as Brazil have hosted such an event with this level of investment,” federal prosecutor Leandro Mitidieri said. He said it would be difficult to use the Olympic venues in a way that would generate enough income to cover maintenance expenses.

“It is a challenge and we can see the difficulties,” he said. “We recognize the difficulties.”

Officials presented the report at the Olympic Park in suburban Barra da Tijuca, which now consists of mostly vacant venues. Last month a federal prosecutor said many of the venues were “white elephants” that were built with “no planning.”

The Rio Olympics, which opened 10 months ago, were plagued by countless financial and organizational problems, and were hosted as Brazil sank into its deepest recession since the 1930s.

The state of Rio de Janeiro has been months late paying teachers, hospital workers, and pensions. The state also reported record-breaking crime in 2016 in almost all categories from homicides to robbery.

The problems around the Rio Games – and the aftermath – have called into question the wisdom of cities building new venues every few years to accommodate an event that lasts just over two weeks.

Paulo Marcio, the head of the Public Authority for Olympic Legacy, talked vaguely about plans to use the venues. The Olympic Park has staged mainly small national or local events.

He did not offer any cost or income figures with most of the Olympic arenas now being operated by Brazil’s federal government. A plan to auction off the venues to private operators failed when only one bidder was reported to be interested.

“I think that in a short period of time I will be able to deliver this legacy, and we have already been successful,” he said.

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U.S. Olympians reveal they have defective Rio medals

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Kyle Snyder made history at the Rio Olympics by becoming the youngest American wrestler to win a gold medal.

The medal will soon be history as well, to be replaced by the IOC and Rio organizers because of damage.

Snyder and Helen Maroulis, another U.S. gold medalist wrestler, are among a group of more than 100 athletes from around the world with defective Olympic medals. Beach volleyball star Kerri Walsh Jennings says her bronze medal from last summer is flaking and rusting.

Rio Games spokesman Mario Andrada said Friday that officials have noted problems with the covering on 6 to 7 percent of the medals.

“The most common issue is that they were dropped or mishandled, and the varnish has come off and they’ve rusted or gone black in the spot where they were damaged,” Andrada said.

Snyder, who wrestles for Ohio State, was 20 when he won his medal. He noticed an issue with his medal the day after he won it.

He went to a party at the Team USA house in Rio, where he said multiple people handled the medal as they celebrated. Snyder said he later discovered a scratch on the back of it, though he added there has been no further damage.

Snyder said he has until the end of the week to return his gold medal and has no idea when he’ll receive his replacement.

“It wasn’t too big of a deal,” Snyder said. “But since they’re giving me a new one, it’s kind of cool.”

Rio de Janeiro spent about $12 billion to organize the Games, which were plagued by cost-cutting, poor attendance and reports of bribes and corruption linked to the building of some Olympic-related facilities.

Nine months later, many of the venues are empty and have no tenants or income – with the maintenance costs dumped on the federal government. In addition to the issues with the medals, which featured the Rio and Olympic logos, the local organizing committee still owes creditors about $30 million.

Greg Massialas, a national coach for the U.S. fencing team in Rio, said in a message to The Associated Press that the silver medal son Alex won is damage free. He added that he hasn’t heard about any issues with other American fencers.

U.S. shooter Ginny Thrasher and boxer Claressa Shields, along with men’s tennis bronze medalist Kei Nishikori of Japan, also reported that their gold medals are intact.

Walsh Jennings, who won three golds in previous Olympics, says her medals tend to get beaten up because she doesn’t hesitate to let people touch them or try them on. But she won’t consider locking them up because people are inspired by them.

“They’ve offered to replace them. I’m not sure if I want to swap it out,” Walsh-Jennings told the AP, adding the reason was “100 percent sentimental.”

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