Traditionally, contingency measures are only relied on as a last resort. These risk-mitigating options are typically deployed only if original, well-thought-out plans are impacted by rare conditions or the unexpected.
Especially over the last year, the Rio Olympics Organizing Committee has been forced to deploy “Plan B” stopgap tactics, while casting aside long-standing “Plan A” strategies – many of which have been mandated by the International Olympics Committee.
The frenzied Rio Committee and the cash-strapped Rio de Janeiro government have more often than not casted aside concrete, foundational plans for Rio Olympics transportation, venue, and housing construction projects. In their place, this tandem has resorted to provisional work-arounds – some crafted on-the-fly – to mitigate against construction delays, cost overruns, and tightened budgets.
As such, the Rio Olympics legacy will likely long be remembered for its “best laid plans.” For every month it seems there is yet another desperate fallback approach being pursued.
Just yesterday, the Brazilian O Globo newspaper unveiled a confidential email sent on Friday by Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes to the IOC. This urgent memo warned that the long-planned subway extension, running from the city to the Olympic Park, may not be ready in time for the 2016 Summer Olympics. He further emphasized that an alternative solution may be required, such as expanding the bus lanes.
Further, the Rio Committee is now considering moving the planned Swimming Test Event in April – from the marquee Aquatics Stadium (still under construction) to the open-air Maria Lenks Aquatics Center (itself the bastion of controversy). Cornel Marculescu, the executive director of the International Swimming Federation (FINA), said in an AP interview, “There are still a lot of things to do. We need to install an artificial ventilation system for the pool deck to make sure there is enough air circulation, that it’s not too hot or cold.”
But, by far, the most controversial last-ditch effort is now trained on cleaning up the Guanabara Bay and nearby waters where hundreds of sailors and swimmers will compete in August. Rio de Janeiro has long acknowledged that its Summer Olympic bid promises touted in 2009, to clean-up these waters’ waste, sewage, and garbage by an 80% improvement rate, are no longer feasible. Instead it is now relying on remedial solutions of erecting barriers, and running “eco-boats” that will catch debris and waste.
Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes has previously said, “It is not traditional for our country to do things on time and within cost” – a veiled reference to a Brazilian propensity for doing things at the last minute.
Maybe, just maybe, makeshift, improvisational measures such as these are in their well-accustomed planning wheelhouse.