Rio's difficulties in preparing for the 2016 Olympic Games are making world news ... and, according to a new report, making Olympic officials nervous enough that they're informally consulting with London about returning the Games to their 2012 home.
However, the International Olympic Committee strongly denied the report, saying there is "not a shred of truth in it."
News reports in recent weeks about the preparedness of Rio for the 2016 Games have put the IOC on high alert. John Coates, vice president of the IOC, last week called Rio's preparations the "worst" he had seen at this stage. "The IOC has adopted a more hands-on role, it is unprecedented for the IOC but there is no plan B. We are going to Rio. We have become very concerned, they are not ready in many, many ways. We have to make it happen and that is the IOC approach, you can't walk away from this."
The London Standard quotes a source as saying, "At a comparable planning stage in 2004 Athens had done 40 per cent of preparations on infrastructure, stadiums and so on. London had done 60 per cent. Brazil has done 10 per cent — and they have just two years left. So the IOC is thinking, ‘What’s our plan B?’"
That Plan B, the Standard contends, could be moving the Games to their prior site. Realistically, however, that would be close to impossible: while most arenas still remain in a viable form, some do not. The athletes' village has been converted to private residences.
The far greater likelihood is that the IOC will play a heavily increased role in Rio's preparations. IOC spokesman Mark Allen told the Associated press that the report of London being under consideration is "totally without foundation and totally unfeasible." Instead, the IOC is taking a hands-on approach to contracting and oversight in order to get the Games back on track.
Moving the Games isn't without precedent; in 1908 the Games moved from Italy to London because of concerns about Mount Vesuvius. But the logistics necessary for such a move a century ago were a tiny fraction of today's concerns. (Side note: it was at these Games that the current distance of the marathon, 26.2 miles, was established, so that the race would start and finish beneath the windows of the monarchy.)