View of Christ the Redeemer and Sugar Loaf on Nov. 12, 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
As Rio de Janeiro wraps up the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the International Olympic Committee executive board reported a positive update on the progress of preparations for its next major sporting event: the Olympic Games, which will be held in Rio nearly two years from now.
IOC President Thomas Bach said that there has been “great dynamism in Rio” and while time remains of the essence, there was plenty of reason for optimism as the first Olympic and Paralympic Games in South America take shape.
According to the IOC, progress has been made for several venues, including the Olympic Village and the Barra Olympic Park. In addition, the executive board noted that the first stone had been laid in Deodoro, where 11 sports will be contested in 2016. Grass has also been laid out for the golf competition. Golf is making a return to the Games in Rio, marking the first time since 1904 that the sport has been part of the Olympic program.
In addition, the executive board reported progress with bus transit lines and educational programs, which will connect the Olympic Movement with 500 schools in Rio.
“We have witnessed over the last few months great dynamism in Rio, in particular from the mayor and governor, who are working closely with the organizing committee and are clearly taking responsibility,” Bach said in a news conference Wednesday held at the IOC headquarter city of Lausanne, Switzerland. “A big step forward has been made with regard to the organization of the Games. There is still no time to lose — not a day to lose — but there has been significant progress. Now is a time to look forward, to work together and to deliver great Games for Rio, Brazil and for the world, and not to engage in discussion of the past.”
The executive board heard reports from Coordination Commission Chair Nawal El Moutawakel and from the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee, led by its President Carlos Arthur Nuzman.
“We have to stay vigilant and there is still no time to lose,” Bach said. “But you really feel the determination and the enthusiasm of the organizing committee and their partners.”
According to the Associated Press, Bach was flying to Rio de Janeiro to attend the World Cup final Sunday and to meet with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to discuss 2016 preparations.
Although Brazil is reeling today, one day following its 7-1 defeat to Germany in the World Cup semifinals, Bach told the Associated Press he expected plenty of optimism to return in the nation for the Olympic Games.
"The Brazilians are very optimistic people and they know that after each defeat there is a new victory waiting for you,” said Bach. “I'm sure they will grasp this opportunity.”
The 2016 Olympic soccer competition will use five stadiums that were also used for the World Cup – those in Rio, Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Salvador and Sao Paulo. Mexico is the defending Olympic men’s soccer champion and the United States is the reigning Olympic women’s soccer champion.
Amy Rosewater is a freelance writer and editor for TeamUSA.org. A former sports reporter for The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, she covered her fifth Olympic Games in Sochi. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and USA Today.