IOC outlines measures to address Rio Olympic issues

Thomas Bach
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The International Olympic Committee is organizing task forces to address delayed preparations for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Construction problems, the resignation of a top official, political and communication issues and a worker strike have recently set back the organization of the first Olympics in South America.

IOC president Thomas Bach was asked if he can categorically, 100 percent, say that Rio will host the Olympics on Thursday.

“What I can say categorically is that we will do everything to make these Games a success,” Bach said at the SportAccord Convention in Belek, Turkey. Bach was asked Wednesday if there had been discussion of moving the Games out of Brazil and said, ”At this stage, that would be far too premature. We’re not talking about Plan B. We’re still talking about delivery of the Games,” according to The Associated Press.

The IOC is set to aid organizers with a stronger presence in Rio and more frequent visits.

The IOC is sending Gilbert Felli, its executive director of the Olympic Games, several months earlier than scheduled to “make sure that the IOC is aware of the day-to-day business in Rio de Janeiro and in Brazil,” Bach said. The AP called Felli a “senior troubleshooter” as part of “a series of emergency measures.”

“We believe that Rio can and will deliver an excellent Games if the appropriate actions are being taken now,” Bach said.

Joint task forces, which will be appointed in the next two weeks, will address construction, operations and the engagement of the public. A local project manager will also be hired to oversee construction, and Brazil was urged to set up a high-level decision-making body.

“We are not sending a commission over there who is taking over,” Bach said. “We are offering the best expertise we can offer from the IOC to Brazil and to Rio de Janeiro. They’re very pleased with this offer.”

The IOC and the Rio Olympic Organizing Committee had a “very constructive” meeting Wednesday afternoon to determine “how we can maybe accelerate” works in Rio, Bach said.

Felli will have his first conference call with the Rio Organizing Committee next week and his first assessment of the situation in the host city two days later.

Bach compared a plan for enhanced collaborations with international sports federations and stakeholders to how it handled the scrutinized run-up to the Sochi Olympics.

Bach was asked if the situation now can be compared to four years before the 2004 Athens Olympics, when then-IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch gave Games organizers a warning for being in a “yellow phase” with “many problems.” A green phase meant everything was proceeding smoothly, and a red phase meant the Games were in danger.

“This is not about giving a card,” Bach said. “This is about ensuring the success of these Games. … If you want these Games to be successful, you have to take positive action. This is what we are doing.”

Asked who was responsible for the Rio problems, Bach said, “We have to look into the future and not start a blame game for the past.”

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