Preparations for the 2016 Olympics to be super-charged
It doesn't help to compare, however, at this stage ahead of the 2012 Olympics, LOCOG was already about to stage test events in completed venues. There are some who are extremely critical and concerned and a view that the situation must be retrieved during the next 3 months.
The 2 week strike at Barra da Tijuca, the main Olympic Park has ended. As the IOC’s Gilbert Felli takes up his trouble-shooter role, construction is also expected to get underway soon on the long-delayed Deodoro zone of venues, which are set to host events such as shooting, field hockey, equestrian, canoeing and BMX.
Image on left is of the athletes village under construction.
A first phase of tender bids were recently approved and there is ‘movement in the camp’. The sports complex, the second largest cluster for Rio 2016 that is expected to cost the Brazilian Government 804 million reais (US$358 million), is being split into two blocks.
Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes said he expects construction work to be completed just weeks before the Olympic Opening Ceremony open on August 5, 2016.
Paes is clearly the target of criticisms now that former Rio State Governor Sergio Cabral, his partner in celebrating Rio's successful campaign for the Olympics, has resigned. Paes is responding with vigour. Associated Press reports that Paes agreed the sports federations have the right to demand that there are no delays, but can't expect the city to accept everything they request for their sport. "We have made commitments and we will do everything possible to deliver what we promised without any delays and with the quality and the conditions needed for each sport to host their event," he said. "We are not going to deliver glamorous stadiums that will become 'white elephants' in the future, like Beijing did with the Birds' Nest. My focus is on the legacy for my city. It's good to know there are no delays on anything related to the city's legacy, the demands are about the stadiums."
Preparations have been hit by various delays, rising costs and poor communication between different levels of the Brazilian government and event organisers. There is a need to accelerate work on a number of fronts and the IOC president noted “What we are doing is to show ways with our experience in organising Games how the different levels of government can work better together, how seamless cooperation can be ensured.”
Rio still has a chance for a happy ending. As Michael Pirrie, senior executive at London 2012 and now a consultant, points out, “it’s not like they are building a space station.” Although the knowledge transfer between Games has improved, time is dwindling, and what is remarkable and troubling is the number of officials sharing their fears, when they are typically the ones reassuring the public and the news media that all will be sorted out.
Michael Payne, a former IOC marketing director who was a consultant to Rio’s successful bid, said. “I think the situation in Rio is far more serious than anything the IOC faced in Athens, I don’t think it’s a case of someone shouting wolf or whatever.”
John Coates, vice president of the IOC and head of the AOC, has weighed in with criticism of the status of preparations at Rio. He has said there is no Plan B. Most valid, of course, since he has a lengthy vista and hands-on experience across several major Olympics. What a marvellous opportunity now for John to orchestrate a group of top class Aussie games experts and present Rio with a support 'arm' that will rapidly get down to work and assist Rio with real accelerated progress. He may not see that as his role but hey, none of the Aussie governments do and wouldn't this be an outstanding time to enable Aussie games know-how to take centre stage and consolidate a global events reputation bar-none.
Even as Rio organisers pull their rabbit out of the hat, unrest in Brazil, the recent political and local management issues, delays in construction, rising costs and incomplete budgets, growing concerns about Rio's preparedness for the next stages of changing from a planning to a delivery structure, credibility and reputation are suffering. There has to be some alarm among major sponsors and indeed the chances of Rio negotiating new sponsors are slim. The IOC is likely to have a headache over the prices it gets for broadcast rights – with some Rio rights still to be negotiated, in Australia for example, and damage to reputation will affect its future 'franchise values'.
Rio 2016 Olympics – it continues to be rocky
Gilbert Felli, the outgoing executive director of the Olympic Games, has been set the role of troubleshooter for the Rio 2016 organising committee. He is already in Rio, 5 months before he was due to be located there, and several months ahead of the scheduled visit of the IOC Evaluation Commission. Pressure is mounting on the city over its ability to stage a successful event. Felli will step down from his present position with the International Olympic Committee after the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympics in August, and was due to begin work on the Rio Olympics a month later.
However, one day after 18 of the 28 summer Olympic sports federations meeting at Sportaccord voiced serious concerns to the IOC executive board about the slow pace of preparations in the Brazilian city, IOC president Thomas Bach announced that Felli would be fast-tracked into his new role. It is expected he will visit Rio five or six times between now and September.
Grumbles are growing about Carlos Nuzman, the organising committee President, with concerns that he lacks the necessary competency, has not brought the requisite governance to the organisation and process…and is a, or the, major stumbling block. There are calls for his removal. This is occurring as leading and some well-experienced executives depart the city and state agencies which are responsible for delivery of venues and infrastructure.
We discussed the status of venues recently. The total lack of progress at the Deodoro complex has triggered the concerns of sports federations. Strikes by workers involved in construction on the Rio’s Olympic sites that are underway, began 3 April and ran for 2 weeks. Around 2,500 workers at the Olympic Park, a huge area that will host more than a dozen events, are seeking higher pay and more benefits – and it is not clear if a resolution to that issue has been reached.
The Rio 2016 budget is emerging…
Brazilian authorities have unveiled a revised infrastructure budget of reals 24.1 billion (US$10.9 billion) for Rio de Janeiro’s 2016 Olympic Games, 25% more than was originally planned. Reuters news agency said the budget covers 27 projects in urban development and public transport, including reals 8 billion for a fourth metro line for Rio.
However, projects that were initially intended to be part of the budget have been excluded. These include redevelopment of Rio's international airport Galeao, which is now being handled by private operators.
Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes said the higher budget was due to the inclusion of new projects and inflation, which has increased costs by 30% since Rio was selected to host the games in 2009. Paes said 57% of the infrastructure costs would utilise public funds, coming from federal, state and municipal governments, with the remainder coming from private investment. In 2009, Rio 2016 had projected that the Games would cost reals 28.8 billion in total – a figure that has now risen to reals 36.7 billion.
This figure does not include more than half of the 52 projects or facilities that will be used exclusively for the Games and still require approval. So far, only 24 projects have been budgeted at real 5.6 billion. A recent meeting between Minister of Sport, Aldo Rebelo, the Governor of Rio, Luiz Fernando de Sousa, Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes, and Carlos Nuzman of Rio 2016 and the Brazil Olympic Committee, finally made some progress in defining projects still to be funded and initiated. And some measure of agreeing responsibility was achieved.
In the case of Rio City, there are 14 projects worth US$14.3 billion. Among them, the Transolímpica public transport program which is behind schedule and sanitation of the West Zone. Plus, we presume, matters such as clearing the water ways to be used for sailing, rowing and other such sports, of serious pollution. US$9.2 billion is expected to be taken up by private sector investment, while US$1.2 billion of projects will be covered by the Federal Government and US$ 3.9 billion by the city.
When elected, Rio Mayor Paes set out to make Rio a less divided city, to make it a more modern, smarter, integrated and sustainable city. He has been the driver for new developments, such as the city’s cooperation with the federal and state governments, private interests, and the local community to create the extensive Porto Maravilha (Marvelous Port) project. This will revitalize the area. By 2016, the city plans to deliver 150 km of BRT lines (Bus Rapid Transit – articulated buses in segregated lanes), divided into four different express corridors, to the city. The first one called TransOeste was opened in June 2012. At the same time, Rio State Government is building a new metro line connecting the South Zone to Barra da Tijuca. When all of those works have been concluded by, 63% of the city’s population will be using high-capacity transport. Completion was to be 2016…it now seems part will be at least a year late.