Rio Games preparations enter ‘operational stage’

Rio Games preparations enter ‘operational stage’

Preparations for the Rio Games are entering what International Olympic Committee Vice-President Nawal El Moutawakel called the “operational stage” as she chaired the opening of the committee’s Coordination Commission in Rio de Janeiro on Monday.

The IOC held a countdown ceremony on Wednesday last week, marking one year to the Games, as test events take off around the city and venues are handed over.

“You are on the right track, you have achieved great success with your marketing programme which has brought some of the finest companies in Brazil to support the Olympic Games. You are delivering the venues on time for the different test events. These venues will be a great legacy to future generations here in this wonderful country,” El Moutakawel said on Monday as chairperson of the Coordination Commission.

The Olympic village is 84 percent complete, and the swimming pool, media centre and the three arenas that will host six indoor events are all more than two-thirds ready, according to numbers released by the Foreign Ministry.

Among the venues where most work is needed are the velodrome and the hockey pitches, which are only half-way completed.

Work on temporary venues for the rugby and beach volleyball is still to begin, as are final alterations to the track and field stadium and the Maracana, where the opening and closing ceremonies and the soccer finals will take place.

The Triathlon course beginning at Copacabana beach was tested amid concerns over water quality after privately commissioned tests in July revealed a high level of disease-causing viruses. Athletes downplayed concerns and the IOC stressed that adequate conditions for athletes would be its priority.

As preparation time is narrowing, El Moutawakel, who won gold in the 400-metre hurdles in 1984, brought the psyche of the athlete to the meeting.

“Like any team preparing for the Olympic Games, the more you practice with your team mates, the better the team will perform. This is why it is a great pleasure for me today to have all of you around this table. These meetings are fruitful, these meetings are important,” said El Moutawakel.

Health concerns also surrounded the equestrian test event at the Deodoro sporting complex after two horses tested positive for the highly contagious glanders disease in April.

Rio 2016 Head of Veterinary Services, Juliana Freitas, said that no horses had been in the competition area for six months, such that there would be no risk of contagion.

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