Dawson: Rio delays shrink timeline for test event
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Construction delays on the Olympic golf course in Rio de Janeiro have further narrowed the window to host a preview tournament, said Peter Dawson, president of the International Golf Federation. The course might not be ready for a test event until less than a year before the 2016 Summer Games.
Dawson, who also acts as the R&A’s chief executive, said Wednesday at a roundtable discussion here that despite the construction delays in Brazil, officials still intend to conduct a tournament before the 2016 Summer Games, which will herald golf’s return to the Olympics after a century absence. The IGF had hoped to stage the test tournament next year.
“We are not satisfied,” Dawson said. “I was down there just recently, and while the design of the course looks really good, the progress with the construction is not where we want it to be.
“There have been so many revisions to the plan it’s quite hard to say how far behind they are, but I think we are going to struggle to get a test event a year before the Games. I’m not writing that off completely, but we have to recognize that might be difficult.”
The Gil Hanse-designed course has been beset with problems since it was first announced as the Olympic venue for golf’s inclusion in the Olympics Games for the first time since 1904. Measures have had to be taken to try to get construction back on schedule.
“There have been meetings held last week in Rio to revise the plan, increase manpower and facilities, which is designed to bring the project back on track.
“There are no green shoots on the course yet – unless they are weeds.”
Dawson added the caveat that golf was not alone in being behind schedule.
“Let me say that golf is not on its own here. Just the other day, the International Olympic Committee issued a warning notice to their coordination commission, so this is not restricted to golf. Rio has got quite a few challenges ahead of them to get things done in time.
“We are new to the Olympic Games; maybe this is normal. However, I think it’s particularly disappointing given how long ago we got in amongst this and got things started.”
Dawson said there should be no worries about the course being ready for the Games.
“I wouldn’t say I’m disturbed at this point. I’d much rather we were further ahead. I still think it will be ready in time for the Olympics.”