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Rio 2016 organisers insist preparations are on track

Updated: Monday, 28 Jul 2014 13:16 | Comments

Construction at the Athlete's Village appears to be on track
Construction at the Athlete's Village appears to be on track

Rio 2016 Olympic organisers have labelled criticism of their preparations by a senior IOC figure "as ill-informed and wrong" and said they are now on course to meet their targets.

Australian IOC vice-president John Coates, a member of the co-ordination commission that monitors Rio 2016, said in April the preparations were the "worst he has experienced" and criticised staffing levels in the organising committee.

Next week marks two years to go to the start of the Games, and Rio 2016 communications director Mario Andrada said "huge progress" had been made in recent months, and that the success of the football World Cup in Brazil boded well for Rio.

He admitted that earlier criticisms from international federations had served as a wake-up call for the three different levels of government in Brazil, but that Coates' remarks had gone too far.

Andrada told Press Association Sport: "Coates' message was ill-informed and bluntly wrong. Yes he is on the co-ordination commission but he had information that was wrong.

"We are not the worst. We can prove that beyond any reasonable doubt.

"One of his complaints was about staffing - that was not us being lazy or late but us humbly disputing with the IOC the need for more people at this point."

Earlier in April, at the Sport Accord conference in Belek, Turkey, international federations also expressed fears over delays. Basketball even talked in terms of the IOC needing a 'plan B'.

Andrada said that in terms of the city, state and federal governments that was an important alert.

He added: "Now we can say thank God it took place at that time, prior to the World Cup. It was the alert that the Government needed, it was the crack of the whip that was putting Brazil in an alert position and drove us to an incredible amount of progress in the last couple of months.

"It will allow us to face the two-year milestone [in August] looking to the world and saying we have no problems here, we are on track, on time."

The recent World Cup has been hailed as the best ever, and Andrada said Rio's preparations would benefit from that.

"This has been a lesson of confidence for us, we learned that we can do it. The self-confidence is important," he said.

"We have learned that if the field of play is perfect then nobody complains if the overlay is not impeccable, so we need to focus on the field of play. Sport is imperative and you have to provide the best conditions."

Construction started earlier this month on the Deodoro sports complex - where 11 Olympic sports including equestrian, shooting, and rugby sevens will take place - after lengthy delays.

Work at the main Olympic Park in Barra - home of track cycling and swimming - has now been extended to 24 hours a day with workers on night shifts too.

The Joao Havelange stadium, where the athletics events will take place, is due to have roof improvements completed by the end of the year.

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