IOC: Rio should waste no time before 2016 Olympics

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The International Olympic Committee warned Rio organizers to get going on work for the 2016 Games because there is little time to waste given the "immense" scope of the projects.

In its first visit to Rio since the city was picked to host the Olympics in October, the IOC said Thursday that organizers are on the right track but need to be prepared to deal with the ambitious scale of the preparations.

"It has laid a solid foundation, but the scope of the Olympic project is immense, and it is important that no time is wasted," said Nawal El Moutawakel, head of the visiting 18-member IOC coordination commission.

The IOC said in a statement that the local committee in charge of developing and building new venues and infrastructure needs to "become operational as quickly as possible because of the great amount of work that still needed to be completed ahead of the games."

Moutawakel hinted there would be no changes to some sports venues which local officials wanted to move to the city's revitalized port district.

"It's fantastic to note that all 26 originally planned Olympic sports now have a home and that the venue locations are secured," El Moutawakel said.

The commission said it "was pleased to hear about the progress" being made by the organizing committee in areas such as marketing and branding.

"Lots of work has been done and we are very satisfied by the presentation made to us," El Moutawakel said. "But a lot is yet to be done and six years are ahead of us, and the teams and the three levels of the government and the organizing committee are aware of the pressure that they have."

The commission visited several of the venues and facilities being prepared for the games and met extensively with organizers and local officials.

"We were also pleased to see that the whole of Brazil continues to be behind the games, which was underlined to us by the strong support for the games from all levels of government," El Moutawakel said.

The meeting came as authorities said six people were killed after a gunfight between police and alleged drug traffickers in a shantytown about 9 miles from where the IOC members talked to the media. Police said 17 people were arrested and several weapons were seized.

More than 40 people were killed in shootouts just days after Rio was awarded the games last year, but organizers and authorities have been constantly downplaying security concerns.

The IOC coordination commission is expected to revisit Rio next year.


Associated Press Writer Tales Azzoni in Sao Paulo contributed to this report.