With a year to go until the Summer Olympic Games begin in Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian city’s mayor said this week construction is ahead of schedule and within budget.
The main Olympic Park is 82% complete, while the stadium is 79% finished; the golf course, 98% ready; and the athletes’ village, 89% set, Mayor Eduardo Paes said in response to criticism that that the preparations have led to police violence, displaced residents and payoffs to private developers. Construction on the velodrome, tennis courts and youth arena is in progress, he said.
Of particular concern is the city’s water quality, which reportedly has led some countries to withdraw from water events. Studies have shown that the water there contains viruses. Paes said half of the streams and sewers that feed into the Guanabara Bay, where the sailing event is to take place, have been treated, but that not all of the water will be clean for the games.
They mayor’s optimistic report, during which he said, “We are literally making a miracle happen here,” put a happy face on preparations rife with controversy.
As early as 2014, International Olympic Committee officials fended off rumors that they were looking for an alternative site outside of Brazil for the Summer Games because of construction delays.
A year later, heavy construction workers all over Rio, including on Olympic job sites, went on strike to demand higher wages. Around the same time, the country’s Ministry for Labor shut down construction on two arenas because of safety concerns for workers.
Still, Brazil is not the only upcoming Olympic host to struggle as it builds a home for the world’s foremost sports competition. Japan last month scrapped the original design for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics’ flagship stadium over cost concerns.