Delayed velodrome for Rio Olympics almost ready to go

Getty Images

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The most troubled venue for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics – the indoor cycling velodrome – is almost ready to go with the games opening in just under six weeks.

Rio organizers took possession of the building on Sunday with about 30 mostly Brazilian cyclists spinning around the banked track during a practice session.

This is the last permanent venue at the Olympic Park being handed over to organizers. Repeated delays and contract disputes forced two cycling test events to be canceled.

The first real racing on the track will be after the Olympics open Aug. 5. It will follow months of complaints from the International Cycling Union, the sport’s ruling body.

“It’s certainly not ideal, but given the circumstances we’re very happy to have some practice this weekend,” said Gilles Peruzzi, the UCI technical delegate. After all the setbacks, he called the venue a “positive outcome.”

However, the venue is still a work in progress. Temporary seating still must go in, along with concessions and other behind-the-scenes facilities. Window cleaners were still working Sunday at one end of the track, and painting remains to be done.

“We see that the building is still under construction, so there is a bit of dust on the track,” said Swiss rider Gael Suter, who practiced Sunday and has already qualified for his first Olympics. “Maybe it is not 100 percent yet. But no doubt it will be ready for the Olympics, and it will be a fast track.”

Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes, who has spoken at handovers of almost every Olympic project, repeated his standard speech. He said limited public money was spent on the Olympics, with private companies handling key projects.

This came in exchange for concessions from the city, including exemptions in zoning laws and access for developers to prime real estate in the upscale suburb of Barra da Tijuca, the heart of the games.

Rio is spending between $10-12 billion, a mix of public and private money, to prepare for the Olympics.

Paes said Sunday that, non-Brazilians in particular, had “every reason to have a certain amount of mistrust about our country.” But he said delivery of games venues should change that.

Paes is coming under scrutiny on several fronts. City prosecutors and council members are scrutinizing Olympic contracts, and at least two other investigations involve the mayor. He denies any wrongdoing.

In truth, Rio has had little trouble delivering venues on time. The problems are everywhere else: the Zika virus, steep budget cuts, slow ticket sales and severe water pollution in the venues for sailing, rowing, canoeing, triathlon and distance swimming.

On Friday, the World Anti-Doping Agency said it had suspended the city’s accredited anti-doping laboratory. It’s not clear if the lab will be re-opened in time for the Olympics, another major embarrassment. If not, thousands of blood and urine samples will be shipped abroad for analysis.

On the political front, Brazil President Dilma Rousseff is suspended and faces impeachment charges – with interim president Michel Temer in charge.

Brazil is also in the midst of its steepest recession since the 1930s.

“What is amazing is the resilience of these people here,” Olympic Games Executive Director Christophe Dubi said. “Because they’ve faced a lot of hardships and they’ve overcome them, one after another. The velodrome was a massive, massive last-minute effort.”

Dubi acknowledged much remains to be done – at all venues.

“When you are inside 40 days as we are, you still have a lot of details,” he said. “And you can see around you there are still a lot of people working. This is where we are – the last minute.”

Gustavo Nascimento, Rio’s venue management director, said venues for swimming and tennis still had work to do. He said the tennis venue lacks two temporary seating areas, and lighting still must be installed for the swimming events.

At Deodoro in northern Rio, the second largest Olympic cluster, work remains to be done on the equestrian venue, and stadiums for rugby and field hockey. Nascimento said he’s not expecting any snags.

He said work on all permanent venues will end on July 10. Temporary venues will be finished by July 21, and athletes will have access to venues starting July 24.

“Everything is going to be ready, no doubt about it,” he said.

MORE: Kristin Armstrong, Taylor Phinney round out U.S. Olympic cycling team

U.S. men’s gymnastics team named for world championships

Asher Hong
Allison and John Cheng/USA Gymnastics

Asher Hong, Colt Walker and world pommel horse champion Stephen Nedoroscik were named to the last three spots on the U.S. men’s gymnastics team for the world championships that start in three weeks.

Brody Malone and Donnell Whittenburg earned the first spots on the team by placing first and second in the all-around at August’s U.S. Championships.

Hong, Walker and Nedoroscik were chosen by a committee after two days of selection camp competition in Colorado Springs this week. Malone and Whittenburg did not compete at the camp.

Hong, 18, will become the youngest U.S. man to compete at worlds since Danell Leyva in 2009. He nearly earned a spot on the team at the U.S. Championships, but erred on his 12th and final routine of that meet to drop from second to third in the all-around. At this week’s camp, Hong had the lowest all-around total of the four men competing on all six apparatuses, but selectors still chose him over Tokyo Olympians Yul Moldauer and Shane Wiskus.

Walker, a Stanford junior, will make his world championships debut. He would have placed second at nationals in August if a bonus system for attempting difficult skills wasn’t in place. With that bonus system not in place at the selection camp, he had the highest all-around total. The bonus system is not used at international meets such as world championships.

Nedoroscik rebounded from missing the Tokyo Olympic team to become the first American to win a world title on pommel horse last fall. Though he is the lone active U.S. male gymnast with a global gold medal, he was in danger of missing this five-man team because of struggles on the horse at the U.S. Championships. Nedoroscik, who does not compete on the other five apparatuses, put up his best horse routine of the season on the last day of the selection camp Wednesday.

Moldauer, who tweeted that he was sick all last week, was named the traveling alternate for worlds in Liverpool, Great Britain. It would be the first time that Moldauer, who was fourth in the all-around at last fall’s worlds, does not compete at worlds since 2015.

Though the U.S. has not made the team podium at an Olympics or worlds since 2014, it is boosted this year by the absence of Olympic champion Russia, whose athletes are banned indefinitely due to the war in Ukraine. In recent years, the U.S. has been among the nations in the second tier behind China, Japan and Russia, including in Tokyo, where the Americans were fifth.

The U.S. women’s world team of five will be announced after a selection camp in two weeks. Tokyo Olympians Jade Carey and Jordan Chiles are in contention.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Paris 2024 Olympic marathon route unveiled

Paris 2024 Olympic Marathon
Paris 2024

The 2024 Olympic marathon route will take runners from Paris to Versailles and back.

The route announcement was made on the 233rd anniversary of one of the early, significant events of the French Revolution: the Women’s March on Versailles — “to pay tribute to the thousands of women who started their march at city hall to Versailles to take up their grievances to the king and ask for bread,” Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet said.

Last December, organizers announced the marathons will start at Hôtel de Ville (city hall, opposite Notre-Dame off the Seine River) and end at Les Invalides, a complex of museums and monuments one mile southeast of the Eiffel Tower.

On Wednesday, the rest of the route was unveiled — traversing the banks of the Seine west to the Palace of Versailles and then back east, passing the Eiffel Tower before the finish.

The men’s and women’s marathons will be on the last two days of the Games at 8 a.m. local time (2 a.m. ET). It will be the first time that the women’s marathon is held on the last day of the Games after the men’s marathon traditionally occupied that slot.

A mass public marathon will also be held on the Olympic marathon route. The date has not been announced.

The full list of highlights among the marathon course:

• Hôtel de ville de Paris (start)
• Bourse de commerce
• Palais Brongniart
• Opéra Garnier
• Place Vendôme
• Jardin des Tuileries
• The Louvre
• Place de la Concorde
• The bridges of Paris
(Pont de l’Alma; Alexandre III;
Iéna; and more)
• Grand Palais
• Palais de Tokyo
• Jardins du Trocadéro
• Maison de la Radio
• Manufacture et Musées
nationaux de Sèvres
• Forêt domaniale
des Fausses-Reposes
• Monuments Pershing –
• Château de Versailles
• Forêt domaniale de Meudon
• Parc André Citroën
• Eiffel Tower
• Musée Rodin
• Esplanade des Invalides (finish)

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!