Friday, 08 August 2014 06:45
Larry Probst, chairman of the United States Olympic Committee, has praised the progress being made by Rio 2016 following celebrations to mark two years to go until the Olympics and Paralympics begin.
Although organisers faced an avalanche of concerns in recent months, including over the construction of venues and high levels of pollution at venues for water sports, they have been using the milestone to showcase the progress they claim is being made.
This was something acknowledged by Probst who, as well as his role in overseeing preparations for the US team at the Olympics and Paralympics, will no doubt have an eye on gaining insights which could prove helpful for a bid from his nation for the 2024 edition of the Games.
"This trip has afforded me the opportunity to view the commendable progress that has been made in Rio," said Probst, who was visiting the Brazilian city to attend the World Press Briefing in his role as chairman of the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Press Commission
"While there is still work to be done, the Rio 2016 leadership team and the people of Brazil are 100 per cent focused on delivering a great Games and a memorable celebration of the world's best athletes.
"I've been equally impressed by Rio's landscape and its people, while experiencing the excitement as the venues take shape.
"I visited the sailing venue on Tuesday (August 5) and was impressed with the quality of the marina and the excellent organisation of the test event.
"Led by [President] Carlos Nuzman and [chief executive] Sidney Levy, and with support from Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes, the Rio 2016 Organising Committee is working diligently to create a unique and festive Games unlike anything the Olympic and Paralympic Movements have experienced before."
Although the criticism of preparations reached fever pitch earlier this year, with IOC vice-president John Coates slamming them as "the worst he has experienced" in his long association with the Games, there have been various signs of improvement in recent weeks.
Two tenders have been signed and construction has begun on the second major Games hub at Deodoro, where much of the criticism was focused.
The sailing test event on Guanabara Bay, meanwhile, is currently progressing well, with worries over participants becoming ill due to the high pollution levels yet to materialise.
Mayor Paes has emphasised how he hopes Brazil will "remain marked in Olympic history as a nation that has the best Games, leaving the best legacy and being the best example of transformation in the lives of its people".
"Barcelona  inspired us and was an excellent example of change, but Rio will overcome the challenges," he said.
"We are using the Games as an 'excuse' to do many things in the city, how to get financial loans and funds to carry out the works.
"This is an opportunity to expand the infrastructure in the city.
"The Games will take place for a month, but the legacy they will leave will last a lifetime."