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Rio’s 2016 Olympics Officially On Life Support

Be honest, now. Did you ever really think Rio was going to pull off golf in the Olympics, much less the Olympics at all?

At the very least, a healthy bit of skepticism is now needed more than ever especially with The New York Times reporting how unhealthy conditions are in and around the Brazilian city that is scheduled to stage the Summer Olympics a short two years from now.

We all know that golf in the Olympics is a good thing for the growth of the game. And we have been disturbed by the recurring problems course architect Gil Hanse has faced getting a course ready for the Games in the summer of 2016.

But there are larger, more distressing issues.

Recently, reports leaked out that London has been asked to prepare itself to host the Games if Rio, already far behind schedule for multiple stadia and sites, has to cancel its venue plans altogether.

Now this, again from The New York Times, on Sunday:

Nico Delle Karth, an Austrian sailor preparing for the 2016 Summer Olympics, said it was the foulest place he had ever trained.

Garbage bobbed on the surface, everything from car tires to floating mattresses. The water reeked so badly of sewage that he was afraid to put his feet in it to launch his boat from shore.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Mr. Delle Karth said of Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro, where the Olympic sailing and windsurfing events will take place.

More from The Times:

Francesco Ricci Bitti, president of the influential association representing various Summer Olympic sports, said the Rio Games were in “the most risky position” of any Olympics he could remember. John D. Coates, an International Olympic Committee vice president, said last month that Rio’s preparations were “the worst I have experienced,” with construction yet to begin on the Deodoro sports complex, the second most important site after Olympic Park.

And more from the newspaper; this also from Guanabara Bay:

“Welcome to the dump that is Rio,” Germany’s sailing team said in one typically blunt assessment of the site for the Olympic regatta.

Brazilians training here agree.

“It can get really disgusting, with dog carcasses in some places and the water turning brown from sewage contamination,” said Thomas Low-Beer, 24, a Brazilian Olympic hopeful who sails in the bay. He shuddered when recalling how his dinghy crashed into what he believed was a partly submerged sofa, capsizing him into the murky Guanabara.

The Times went on to quote one official as saying there is no Plan B if Rio can’t get its act together.

That would seem to rule out London as an alternative. Which is a blow to all sports worldwide and specifically to golf, which has worked so hard to gain entry to the Games.

Considering all the historic courses within driving distance of London, it’s too bad for golf, one of the few sports that could produce a suitable venue on short notice if the Games were moved to the UK.

Golf cleared a giant hurdle in its efforts to gain inclusion into the 2016 Olympics with a lot of hard work from a lot of influential people, including Peter Dawson, David Fay and Tim Finchem.

Now, a little more disappointingly each day, it appears that the finish line might disappear before the race even starts.


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