Environmental issue could halt Rio course construction

The golf course for the Rio 2016 Olympics is shown under construction May 13.

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The Rio 2016 Olympic golf course may be put on hold again according to reports out of Brazil.

Rio organizers confirmed that a state prosecutor could halt work on the course unless the developer shows it is following environment regulations and other requirements under Brazilian law.

Rio 2016 spokesman Mario Andrada confirmed the inquiry on Saturday and said developers had been asked to provide documentation that would allow the work to continue.

"The state prosecutor is asking for the papers to show the work is proceeding according to the law," Andrada told The Associated Press. "We believe all the rules are being followed."

Gil Hanse, the 2016 Olympics golf course designer, says work is moving ahead, with the entire layout now shaped and getting ready for grassing. All 18 greens are cored out into the shells that will receive the sand-based growing medium used for the Sea dwarf Paspalum grass that is planned.

Hanse, who lived on site for the first year of construction and now spends a week to 10 days every month on site, is set to return to Rio on June 9 to oversee the final preparation of the two or three greens so they can get the Paspalum. Hanse’s own on-site crew, consisting of two shapers and a finish man, will be floating out the surface contours and making sure the greens mix is properly amended with nutrients for successful grown in.

“Work was being done on the course today,” said Hanse, who is currently working on the East Course at Winged Foot. “I have no knowledge of any issues about halting construction or environmental issues.”

There are an additional 40 laborers on site manually weeding and transplanting grasses. Three holes have operational irrigation, with more slated for the summer and fall. Hanse says the hope is to get all of the grassing done by October 2014. That will leave two full seasons of grow-in before the course is scheduled to debut at the 2016 Olympiad. Initial plans to have the course readied for a test-run championship in the summer of 2015 are likely not going to be met.

Ty Votaw, the vice president of the International Golf Federation, said that the process is in the hands of the Brazilian government and will take about 10 days before a determination will be made.

– The Associated Press contributed to this story

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