The organizing committee for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics said on Thursday that it is confident no Games venues were involved in a corruption scandal upending the country’s business and political worlds.
“We remain confident that the Olympic constructions, the sport constructions, are not (involved),” spokesman Mario Andrada told journalists.
Brazil has been rocked by allegations that construction companies colluded to overbill state oil giant Petrobras by billions of dollars, bribing corrupt executives and politicians to look the other way.
The scandal inched uncomfortably close to the Olympics on Tuesday when investigators said they had uncovered evidence of bribes paid for two projects related to the Games: upgrades to the Rio subway and port.
The country’s largest construction firm, Odebrecht, has now vowed to cooperate with investigators, raising the possibility of a flurry of new revelations.
Odebrecht is one of the largest participants in the construction projects for the Olympics, whose total budget is around $9.5 billion.
Andrada said organizers were preparing for possible “surprises” from the investigation, which is dubbed “Operation Car Wash.”
“The best approach for what we see in Brazil is to follow up and adapt to the news as it comes,” he said in a conference call with foreign correspondents.
“We cannot worry too much about things, we have to keep rowing in one direction.”
With just over four months to go to the opening ceremony on August 5, Brazil’s attention is largely fixed on the never-ending twists in the scandal, which is threatening President Dilma Rousseff’s government.
“Everybody in Brazil is concerned. It’s one of the biggest crises we have faced, it’s huge,” said Andrada.
But he added: “There is no concern about the Games moving ahead.”
He said ticket sales are “as expected” -- 76 percent sold for the Olympics and 20 percent for the Paralympics, which open on September 7.
“Brazilians are late buyers,” he said.
Rio cancels cycling test because velodrome is not ready
Rio Olympics organisers have cancelled the only test event for the indoor cycling at this year’s Games because the velodrome will not be ready in time, a spokesman said on Thursday.
The event was due to take place on April 30 and May 1 but logistical problems mean the velodrome will not be ready until at least May 31.
“The track cycling test event has been cancelled and will be replaced by a training opportunity June 25th through the 27th,” Mario Andrada told reporters.
“We are 120 per cent confident it will be ready for the Olympics.”
Andrada said the delay came in laying the track, which is made from Siberian wood.
“We had some logistical problems, such as unloading the wood into the venue and to install containers and offices, and we realised that it was too close for us to make sure that the track was perfectly installed,” Andrada said.
New Olympic champion wants Russia barred from Rio Games
SYDNEY: Australian race walker Jared Tallent has said it would be a disgrace to have to compete at the Rio de Janeiro Games in August against the man who cheated him out of London Olympic gold.
Tallent finished second in the 50 kilometre walk at the 2012 Olympics behind Russian Sergey Kirdyapkin, who was found guilty of doping last year and handed a three-year, two-month suspension by Russia’s anti-doping agency, backdated to the London Games.
Kirdyapkin was one of three Russian athletes stripped of their London medals by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Thursday and athletics’ governing body the IAAF have said they will begin re-allocating the medals shortly.
“Sergey Kirdyapkin, the cheat from London, has returned to competition now ...and for him to be competing in Rio I think it would be a disgrace,” Tallent told reporters in Adelaide on Friday.
“I am very strongly against Russia competing at the Olympics and hope the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and IAAF stand firm.”
Russian athletes are currently banned from international competition following a report by the World Anti-Doping Agency which exposed systematic state-sponsored doping and related corruption.
The IAAF have said the country still had “significant work” to do to have the ban overturned.