Olympic officials have denied making a secret approach to see if London could be on standby to host the 2016 Games because of Rio de Janeiro’s disastrous plans for the competition. The Evening Standard reported that London organisers had been contacted to see if the facilities built for the successful 2012 Games could be used again in two years’ time should the Brazilian city fail to reach its construction deadlines.
The report came weeks after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) vice president John Coates described Rio’s planning as “the worst I have experienced”, which includes the construction debacle that preceded the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
The IOC has formed an emergency task force in a bid to bring Rio up to speed, with the current construction failings described as “critical”.
However, Mr Coates has said the newspaper’s claim that London could step in should Rio flounder is “nonsense”.
“There’s absolutely no plan B,” he said. “There’s just absolutely no alternative of going back to another city. We’ll work through this and we’ll get to Brazil.”
The Evening Standard quoted a source as saying the return to London was “unlikely” but “logical” with Rio so far behind.
“At a comparable planning stage in 2004 Athens had done 40 per cent of preparations on infrastructure, stadiums and so on,” the source told newspaper.
“London had done 60 per cent. Brazil has done 10 per cent – and they have just two years left.”
The return to London would be complicated by the Olympic Stadium’s impending conversion to a football ground for West Ham United and the dismantling of many of the facilities, including the Athlete’s Village, which is now privately owned flats.