Rio de Janeiro’s new velodrome, which will stage track cycling contests during the Brazilian city’s hosting of the 2016 summer Olympic Games, has become the final permanent venue to be handed over to the local organising committee after substantial difficulties in its development.
Rio 2016 took possession of the facility yesterday (Sunday) when the venue hosted a practice session. Delays and contract disputes had resulted in the cancellation of two earlier practice events, which led to heavy criticism from the International Cycling Union (UCI). Last month, Rio’s city government cancelled a contract with the company responsible for building the velodrome after the firm, Tecnosolo, filed for bankruptcy protection.
The venue will not host any competitive racing until after this summer’s Games begin on August 5 as work is still ongoing, with temporary seating and some behind-the-scenes facilities still to be installed. However, UCI technical delegate Gilles Peruzzi told the Associated Press news agency that the site’s partial opening is a “positive outcome” for competitors. He added: “It's certainly not ideal, but given the circumstances we're very happy to have some practice this weekend.”
Christophe Dubi, the International Olympic Committee’s executive director for the Olympic Games, spoke out in support of the city and its organising team for their ongoing dedication to this summer’s sporting spectacle. He said: “What is amazing is the resilience of these people here. Because they've faced a lot of hardships and they've overcome them, one after another. The velodrome was a massive, massive last-minute effort.
“When you are inside 40 days as we are, you still have a lot of details. And you can see around you there are still a lot of people working. This is where we are – the last minute.”
Gustavo Nascimento, Rio 2016 venue management director, added that although work remains at several other venues, he is confident that development on all permanent venues will end on July 10, while construction on temporary venues will be completed by July 21.
Nascimento said the tennis venue lacks two temporary seating areas, and lighting still must be installed for the swimming events. At Deodoro, the second largest Olympic cluster, work remains for the equestrian venue, and stadiums for rugby union and hockey.
Nascimento added: “Everything is going to be ready, no doubt about it.”