In 2009, the 2016 Summer Olympics were awarded to Rio de Janiero, which beat out bids from Chicago, Madrid and Tokyo. As the games approach, concerns have been growing about Rio’s preparedness to host the Olympics, including questions about water cleanliness, completion of buildings and ability to host the amount of people coming in from other countries for the event. USA Basketball president Jerry Colangelo, who served on the committee for the Chicago bid, says he saw those issues coming at the time and is still concerned about the logistics.
He is concerned, he said, about just how ready for the events the city of Rio will be. Reports about construction problems, light demand for tickets and concerns around pollution and security are not a surprise, Colangelo said.
“A few years ago, I was asked to serve on the Chicago committee in their bid to get the Olympics,” he said. “I was part of that effort, and the four finalists were Tokyo, Rio, Madrid and Chicago. I can be very objective when I say this: By far, Chicago had the best package. Not even close. Financial, facilities, security, infrastructure, everything. We finished fourth in the balloting. The only concern I had about the other cities was Rio, because South America has never hosted an Olympics. All of the things now that are being discussed as far as security, infrastructure, lack of hotels and pollution and everything, those were things that worried us back then. I’m hopeful, but everyone will have to overcome whatever obstacles are down there.”
By all accounts, Colangelo’s concerns are not misplaced. Last year, IOC Vice President John Coates called Rio’s preparation the “worst ever.” Construction on facilities is behind schedule, the water is massively polluted, and there’s no confidence from anyone involved that Rio officials will have the city ready in time.