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Rio Track Test Event in Olympic Velodrome Delayed – Games Hit with Drastic Budget Cuts

by John Symon

January 16, 2016 (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) – A track test event planned for the new Olympic velodrome for the Rio 2016 Games has been delayed from mid March to late April according to a Jan. 15 press release on the Rio2016 website.

“The Rio 2016 track cycling test event has been moved from March 18-20 to April 29-May 1 to allow more time for the installation of the track. The Aquece Rio International Track Cycling Challenge will see the Rio Olympic Velodrome become the fifth of the seven new venues being constructed in Barra Olympic Park to host a test event. Work on installing the new track at the velodrome will begin in February and the Rio 2016 organizing committee has confirmed that the change of date is due to a delay in its preparation works for the track installation.”

Olympic Velodrome  ©  Rio 2016

The new velodrome was originally scheduled for completion in late 2015 according to a Feb. 27, 2014 press release on the Rio2016 website.

“We’re naturally concerned that the velodrome construction in Rio is being further delayed and that the test event has also been delayed as a result,” the UCI said in a statement.

Also facing delays is a planned 16km subway extension to the western suburb of Barra da Tijuca, the site chosen for the velodrome. It now looks as if the subway will be completed only weeks before the Games begin.

Another report suggests that an urgent meeting is due to take place tomorrow after it was revealed that the Olympic Stadium, scheduled to host athletics during Rio 2016, is currently without electricity or running water due to unpaid bills.

All this is set in a context of severe austerity with organizers trying to find where to cut about $500 million USD to balance the operating budget of 7.4 billion reals ($1.85 billion) reports AP. Brazil is spending about $10 billion in public and private money to organize the Games, including capital costs.

Barra Olympic Park  ©  Rio 2016

This is only a tiny fraction of the $51 billion that Russia spent on the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, but it is still a lot for a country in its deepest recession since the 1930s and struggling with 10% annual inflation. The Brazilian currency recently plunged almost 50% against the US dollar.

It is unclear if another velodrome completed for the 2007 Pan Am Games in Rio could be used as a backup facility should any further problems develop.

The Aug. 5-21 Rio Olympics are expected to attract some 10,500 athletes competing in 306 events in 28 sports. Many of the same venues will be used for the Sept 7-18 Paralympic Games in Rio.

Jan. 15 Rio 2016 release about track test event delay here.
AP report on financial difficulties & subway delay here.
Feb. 2014 press release promising the velodrome will be completed in 2015 here.

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