The countdown is now well and truly on. It’s now only 450 days before the start Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and reports have emerged in the past few days that construction in the city is still well behind the planned schedule, with some major contracts having not been tendered out yet.
In April 2014, the IOC’s Vice President, John Coates stated the preparations as the ‘the worst I have experienced…’. According to Michael Payne, an ex IOC member who was instrumental in putting the original bid together for Rio 2016, “there is still a lot to be done”.
Whilst it is clear that Rio de Janeiro have some challenges with event logistics in the city, and clearly some way to go in the construction of the various sites, we should take comfort in that Brazil has already delivered a successful global event with the recent FIFA World Cup in 2014.
But, is the current state of affairs in Rio any different to the preparations in a host city for a summer Games?
Having just returned from Rio, I’ve personally witnessed the huge changes and development in the city, when compared to my last visit there during the FIFA World Cup. The city’s infrastructure is developing and evolving, and this can only be a good thing as a legacy is left for the Cariocas.
There are some fears that the riots, that broke out ahead of the FIFA World Cup, could be repeated as concerns rise over the cost of delivering a second global event in 2 years in the city. In the lead up to the FIFA World Cup, a growing feeling of resentment grew over issues including the overall spend for the build of the stadiums, and saw over 1 million people demonstrate across the country to share their frustrations.
There is no doubt that hosting an Olympic and Paralympic Games can put a strain on a country’s economy. In 2004, the Games in Athens cost double the original budget, and this didn’t include the hefty price for the development of the city’s infrastructure and the last minute around the clock construction crews that were required to complete the works.
If progress continues in the same manner, we can expect a repeat last minute panic as we did with the Athens Games in 2004. Officials in Brazil are adamant that all test events will go ahead and that they are on schedule. With 15 months to go, we can only hope that this is true. One thing we can be sure of is that on the 5th August 2016, Rio de Janeiro will bring their famous carnival atmosphere and spirit to the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’. And I for one can’t wait.