Rio Insists 2016 Olympics Will be on Time–Equestrian “Already Almost Ready”

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The United States 2007 Pan American Games gold medal dressage team at Rio de Janeiro. © 2007 Ken Braddick/
The United States 2007 Pan American Games gold medal dressage team. The equestrian venue for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. © 2007 Ken Braddick/

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, May 8, 2014–The Rio de Janeiro Olympic organizers on Thursday defended the schedule preparing for the 2016 Games, saying that the equestrian venue and some other facilities are “already almost ready.”

In an appearance at a symposium in this city that is home to the International Olympic Commmittee and many other world sports groups including the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), Agberto Guimaraes, sport director of Rio 2016, the Games’ organizing committee, said that the 11 hours separating the two cities caused unnecessary concerns about the pace of preparations.

“I can understand that some international federations raise their hands, and ask questions,” he said. “They have the right to do that. I’m constantly coming to Lausanne and other parts of Europe to visit them. They constantly come to Rio to visit, not just to see the venues, but transport, accommodation and so on.

“Why are the international federations sometimes nervous? We are far away from everyone, that’s a fact. We’re 11 hours from most parts of Europe. People demand quick answers, and sometimes when they don’t get a quick reply they get nervous. But I don’t change anything without consulting the international federations. I want to keep my head on my neck, so I consult them and they come and help us. All venues have to be signed off by the international federations.”

He and Carlos Nuzman, Rio 2016’s president, spoke for the first time since last month’s outcry by several international federations  and John Coates, an IOC  vice-president from Australia, who made headlines by claiming that Rio preparations were “the worst I have experienced” and “worse than Athens”–the previous byword for late-running preparations for an Olympic Games in 2004.

A majority of international federations, including the FEI, at a joint IOC and Association of Summer Olympic International Federations meeting in Turkey, complained about construction delays, principally in the Deodoro Zone, which will host eight sports including equestrian. Construction there is scheduled to start in July.

“Some venues are already almost ready–the national shooting center and equestrian venues are existing venues,” he said. “Yes, they will be ready for the Games, yes, they will be up to the standards of the international federations, yes, they will host test events before the games.”