Australia’s IOC vice-president John Coates has slammed preparations for the 2016 Rio Olympics as the worst he’s seen.
Coates painted a dire picture of the situation in Brazil on Tuesday, labelling as “unprecedented” the level of attention the International Olympic Committee has had to give to local organisers.
The IOC earlier this month established a taskforce involving their own staff to help speed up the project, which has been dogged by construction delays.
“I think this is a worse situation than Athens (in 2004),” said Coates after attending an Olympic forum in Sydney.
“In Athens, we were dealing with one government and some city responsibilities. Here, there’s three.
“There is little co-ordination between the federal, the state government and the city – which is responsible for a lot of the construction.
“And this is against a city that’s got social issues that also have to be addressed; a country that’s also trying to deal with the FIFA World Cup coming up in a few months.
“It’s the worst that I’ve experienced.
“But again, we just have to make it happen – and that’s the IOC’s approach. You can’t walk away from this.
“If it comes off – the first Games on the South American continent, in a magical city in so many ways – it’ll be a wonderful experience for the athletes.
“But we just have to make sure it’s the right environment for the athletes.”
Coates, who has been involved in the Olympics for nearly 40 years, has made six visits to Rio as a member of the IOC’s coordination commission.
Coates said Rio organisers boasted the same number of employees as London did at the same stage in their preparations (600) for the 2012 Games, but lacked the necessary experience.
He said only two people were working in the Games’ test department – even though test events were schedule to start this year.
“They’re going to try and accelerate the bringing on of staff, but we’re going to make sure we get some experienced people in there ourselves,” he added.
“The challenges for our (Australian) sport leaders and our team management is that they’re not getting answers to the questions when they go over.
“Can they use the carparks in the village for recovery centres? What will be the time to take from this venue to this venue?
“All of those things, they’re being fobbed off.
“No-one’s able to give answers at the moment.
“That’s the difficulty for our people here and that’s the challenge, but that’s why we have to be the best prepared.”