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Olympic official: 2016 Rio de Janeiro preparations 'the worst'

Olympic official: 2016 Rio de Janeiro preparations 'the worst'
"We have become very concerned," John Coates, an IOC vice president, says of Rio's preparations for the 2016 Olympics. (Koji Sasahara / AP)

The International Olympic Committee usually paints all things Games-related in a rosy, optimistic hue.

That is not the case with Rio de Janeiro's troubled preparations for the the 2016 Summer Olympics.

An IOC vice president who has visited Brazil numerous times is now calling the build-up "the worst I have experienced," saying that Rio is "in many, many ways" further behind schedule than Athens in 2004, the previous benchmark for ineptitude.

"We have become very concerned," John Coates told the Australian Associated Press. "And this is against a city that's got social issues that also have to be addressed; a country that's also trying to deal with the FIFA World Cup coming up in a few months."

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With soccer's grand event just weeks away, FIFA has also complained about unfinished stadiums and shoddy infrastructure.

Rio has struggled with construction delays, civil unrest and chaos amid its federal, state and local levels of government.

Work has yet to begin on numerous venues, the golf course reportedly has no grass and there are concerns about water pollution at the sailing site.

The predicament has revived unpleasant memories of Athens, when past IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch issued a "yellow light" warning.

The current president, Thomas Bach, recently said there is no time to lose in Rio. Olympic officials have taken a number of emergency steps, forming task forces and sending senior executive Gilbert Felli to work full-time with the organizing committee.

Coates insisted that the Games will not be moved to another city at this relatively late stage.

"It is unprecedented for the IOC, but there is no Plan B," he said. "We are going to Rio."

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