IOC 'surprise' at Rio mayor golf course criticism

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The president of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach speaks during a press conference at the Planalto Palace, in Brasilia on February 24, 2015 (AFP Photo/Wenderson Araujo) (AFP/File)
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Rio de Janeiro (AFP) - International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach voiced dismay on Wednesday at criticism of the golf course for the 2016 Rio Games by the city's mayor.

Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes told O Globo newspaper Tuesday he would have preferred the course never to have been built.

"I hate to have to done this course, if it was up to me we would never had built it," Paes was quoted as saying.

But the comments raised eyebrows at the IOC, with President Bach admitting he was bemused by the city leader's reported remarks.

"With golf, I'm a little surprised because as we all know, the mayor was pushing very much for this to happen," Bach said.

Golf is returning to the Olympics next year after a 112-year absence but the new course which will host the competition, built in a nature reserve, has attracted a firestorm of controversy.

Ecologists have decried the construction as an environmental crime meriting a legal challenge to force design concessions limiting the site's impact on the local ecosystem.

The course is being built to Olympic specifications on private land in the western Rio suburb of Barra de Tijuca, which host the bulk of Olympic events.