Rio 2016 organisers remain focused

Rio 2016 Olympic organisers have reiterated that they will not leave preparations to the last minute

Rio 2016 Olympic organisers have reiterated that they will not leave preparations to the last minute

First published in National Sport © by

Rio 2016 organisers admit they cannot afford to indulge in the luxury of leaving preparations for the Olympics and Paralympics to the last minute.

Two years ahead of the Games, which start on August 5 2016, Rio 2016 communications director Mario Andrada said the preparations are now back on schedule after numerous delays.

Senior IOC figures have declared Rio as further behind than even Athens was at a similar stage before the 2016 Olympics but Andrada says there was a well-timed wake-up call earlier this year.

He also said Brazil's reputation for leaving things to the last minute was perhaps deserved - it certainly happened with the football World Cup - but that attitude could not be allowed for the Olympics.

Asked about that reputation, Andrada told Press Association Sport: "That is a fairly correct, confirmed and historic way of doing so, that somehow amazingly enough we are proud of.

"But the work we do impacts on a lot of people. Sponsors have invested money in us and need to activate their brands - they cannot wait until a week before the Games open.

"You cannot change from treating 12 per cent of the sewage [in Guanabara Bay sailing venue] to 80 per cent in the last two weeks.

"Although we would love to do everything in the last minute we cannot afford this luxury."

Andrada said Rio had reacted to a number of criticisms and expressions of concern which came from the IOC and Sport Accord meetings in Belek, Turkey, in April.

Afterwards IOC president Thomas Bach stressed the need for speed, while other IOC members and federations warned even more urgently about the delays.

Andrada said that had acted as a wake-up call, especially for the three tiers of government involved in Rio - the city, the state and the federal governments.

He added: "Now we can say thank God it took place at that time, prior to the World Cup. It was the alert that the Government needed, it was the crack of the whip that was putting Brazil in an alert position and drove us to an incredible amount of progress in the last couple of months.

"It will allow us to face the two-year milestone looking to the world and saying we have no problems here, we are on track, on time."

Construction finally started last month on the Deodoro sports complex where 11 Olympic sports - including equestrian, shooting, and rugby sevens - will take place, after lengthy delays. At the main Olympic Park in Barra, home of track cycling and swimming, construction work has now been extended to 24 hours a day.

Challenges still remain: The Joao Havelange stadium for the athletics remains closed pending roof improvements, the golf course in Barra has suffered delays, while competitors in the first test event - sailing at Guanabara Bay last week - complained of rubbish and sewage.

In terms of sponsorship income, organisers remain 30 per cent short of their target - London 2012 reached its £700million target 20 months ahead of its Games despite the global economic crisis at the time.

The biggest Rio construction project is extending the underground railway to the Olympic park at Barra, and its scheduled completion date of May 2016 leaves little space for leeway.

The success of the recent World Cup, despite the last-gasp nature of the tournament's preparations, has provided a huge lift for Rio.

"This has been a lesson of confidence for us, we learned that we can do it. The self-confidence is important," Andrada said.

"We have learned that if the field of play is perfect then nobody complains if the overlay is not impeccable, so we need to focus on the field of play. Sport is imperative and you have to provide the best conditions."

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