With sports federations demanding a “Plan B” because of the chronic delays in Rio de Janeiro, IOC President Thomas Bach promised Wednesday to take action to ease the crisis threatening the 2016 Olympics.
Bach and other Olympic officials said the construction holdups and political paralysis have reached a critical point, requiring the IOC to take special measures to save the games.
“It is about time for action,” Bach said following an unprecedented venting of criticism and complaints from international sports leaders about the lack of progress in Rio.
“We share their concerns,” he added. “We will address them. We will do everything we can do make these games a success.”
Bach said the International Olympic Committee executive board would meet later on Wednesday to discuss the Rio situation and decide on what action to take. He did not say what steps might be implemented.
Several sports federations asked about “Plan B” contingencies for their venues and one – handball – asked if there was a backup for the Games themselves if Rio won’t be ready on time.
Without completely ruling out moving the games out of Brazil, the IOC and other Olympic officials made clear they expect the games to take place in Rio but the timelines are extremely tight.
“If action is taken now, then we can deliver and Rio can deliver,” said Gilbert Felli, the IOC’s executive director of the Olympic Games.
Leaders of 18 different federations spoke out about Rio’s troubled preparations in a meeting with Bach and the IOC board. All but one – volleyball – raised serious concerns.
“The general feeling is that we are in the most critical situation in the preparation for the games that has happened in the last 20 years at least,” said Francesco Ricci Bitti, head of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations.
Ricci Bitti said the sports raising the issue of a “Plan B” were referring to venue plans, not moving the games.
“We are not at this stage,” he said, adding that basketball, for example, could consider playing some games in Sao Paolo if the Deodoro venue won’t be ready.