Progress Continues On Rio Olympics Venue Despite Contractor Woes

Some concerns remain over the timely completion of the equestrian venue for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games after Mayor Eduardo Paes rescinded contracts for the equestrian venue on Jan. 21, though a new contractor has now been secured. The Rio Organizing Committee hasn’t yet released the name.

“Rio 2016 has been keeping us fully informed of the situation, and although it is not optimal to change contractors at this late stage, a new contractor has been appointed so that the remaining renovation and construction work can be completed at our venue,” said a Fédération Equestre Internationale spokesperson in an emailed statement. “We have been assured by the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee that the mayor is fully committed to delivering the equestrian venue on time and to the required specifications. In the meantime, our team is in Rio and working very closely with the Organizing Committee to address all these issues so that they can deliver really successful Olympic and Paralympic equestrian events in August.”

The previous contractor, IBEG Engenharia e Construções, was fined $2.5 million for contract breaches after their progress on the venue was moving too slowly.

The Olympics' Opening Ceremony is set for Aug. 5, with the first equestrian discipline—eventing—beginning Aug. 6 at the Deodoro location.

“We’re visiting the venue in March, so we’ll get a better idea then, but I think if you look at the speed that they built for the test event I think it’s really one of those countries where they’re good at getting it done just in time,” said Will Connell, U.S. Equestrian Federation sport director. “I’m sure there’s a good reason why they changed their contractor. They know the deadlines, and they know what needs to happen. Any delay is unfortunate, but I’m still very confident that everything will get finished in time.”

The problems come on the heels of a slew of additional issues, including delayed information regarding horse imports and exports for the games, and announcements that $500 million in expenses had to be cut to remain inside the $7.4 billion Olympic budget. The recent spread of the Zika virus has also generated discussion amongst Olympic hopefuls, however for now the USEF is monitoring the situation and will continue to follow suggestions put forth by the Center for Disease Control.

“It’s still 5 1/2 months until the Olympics, and you see a rapidly changing picture, and I think it would be unnecessarily preemptive to start making decisions now,” Connell said. “I’m following the advice that’s on the CDC, the World Heath Organization. They’re investigating various ways of preventing the mosquitos and breeding.”