Rio’s Woes Continue as Olympic Velodrome Fails to Meet Latest Deadline
20 Apr, 2016By: Mary Helen Sprecher
From Cancellation of Track Cycling Event to Resignation of Top Officials to Political Upheaval, City is Still Fighting an Uphill Battle Toward the Summer Games
While it has already been established that Rio is far from ready for its close-up, the latest downturn has been an embarrassment for organizers. And with less than four months until go-time, it’s ready to erupt into a full-blown crisis.
According to an article in Inside The Games, the track cycling test event for the summer Games has been cancelled due to delays in installing the track at the Velodrome, located at the Barra de Tijuca Olympic Park.
The event, which had originally been planned to run in mid-March, was moved to April 29-May 1 after organizers expressed concerns that the facility would not be ready. By late March, it became obvious that even that expectation was unrealistic, and the event was cancelled.
The article notes that the decision was jointly made by Rio 2016 and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), while the International Cycling Union (UCI) was also informed. (UCI President Brian Cookson noted in February that cycling's worldwide governing body was concerned about the state of progress at the venue and had warned "time was running out" for organizers to finish necessary work for the competition to be held as planned.)
Perhaps the most embarrassed person of all was Carlos Nuzman, Rio 2016 President. Nuzman was defiantly optimistic in March, telling reporters that the test event would go on as planned. Not long after, he admitted to “logistical problems” with the facility.
These days, Nuzman continues to insist the 2016 venues are "90 to 95 per cent" complete – although he does admit the Velodrome “needs a little more work.”
As a replacement for the cancelled Aquece Rio International Track Cycling Challenge, a two-day training period on June 26 and 27 has been arranged in order to give the venue a test run.
The article also notes that installation of the Mondo track for the track and field events at the Olympic Stadium was delayed by at least a month following local hold-ups in preparation and unusually bad weather back in February.
Brazil also remains deeply embroiled in one of the worst political scandals in its history and recently, up to 1.4 million people took to the streets to call for the impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. In addition, according to the Washington Post, Sports Minister George Hilton has resigned. Rio's security chief also resigned in the wake of an investigation into corruption regarding awarding of Olympic contracts. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is also likely to miss the Olympics as impeachment proceedings continue.