Workers back as IOC visits Brazil Olympic stadium

Workers return as IOC makes visit to inspect Maracana stadium for Rio Olympic opening ceremony

Associated Press

SAO PAULO (AP) -- Construction was back under way at Maracana stadium on Tuesday as the IOC arrived to inspect the venue that will host the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

But on the second day of its three-day visit, the IOC coordination commission for the 2016 Games was met by news that the venue of the diving competition may be switched to a different location after a request by the international swimming federation, and the company claiming ownership of the land where the Olympic golf course will be built said it will officially notify the IOC about an ongoing legal dispute.

Work had been halted at Maracana on Monday as employees demanded better wages and benefits, but they returned to the construction site after Rio's governor got involved in the negotiation and said a better offer was going to be made.

The union representing the workers said a full-scale strike was still possible depending on the new offer, but work was under way as the IOC's coordination commission stopped by the iconic soccer stadium, which is being refurbished for the 2014 World Cup and the Rio Games.

"Everything was normal when the IOC visited," said Nilson Duarte, the president of the union representing the workers. "A decision on a strike will be made by the end of the week, but it appears that there will be an agreement that will fulfill the workers' demands."

A strike would likely create problems to get the stadium ready for the Confederations Cup, the World Cup warm-up tournament that will be played June 15-30. Maracana will host three matches, including the final. The stadium was originally scheduled to be ready in December, but FIFA was forced to extend its deadlines because of ongoing delays.

Although the Maracana shouldn't give the IOC much of a headache, the Olympic golf course may be reason for concern as construction has yet to begin with three years to go before the sport makes its return to the games after more than 100 years.

The coordination commission is in Rio to meet with local organizers and monitor the progress made at venues and infrastructure sites for the first Olympics in South America. It is its first visit of the year, and it comes just two months after the IOC told local organizers that "time is ticking" and they must attack the project "with all vigor" to guarantee a successful games in 2016.

IOC President Jacques Rogge said last week he doesn't think he will need to publicly warn organizers about delays, but Brazil has been under pressure to show that preparations are on track.

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