“London has been secretly asked if it would be able to take over the 2016 Olympics because Brazil is so far behind on preparations, the Evening Standard has learned.
“An informal approach was made by Olympics bosses to discover whether enough venues from the triumphant 2012 London Games could be brought back into use.”
Last month, John Coates, a vice president of the International Olympic Committee, called Rio’s preparations “the worst [he] had experienced.” He also said at that time that the Games would go on in Brazil and that the IOC had no backup plan. Times have changed, though, according to the unnamed source quoted by the Standard:
“At a comparable planning stage in 2004 Athens had done 40 percent of preparations on infrastructure, stadiums and so on. London had done 60 percent. Brazil has done 10 percent — and they have just two years left. So the IOC is thinking, ‘What’s our plan B?’ Obviously, the answer would be to come back to London. It’s very unlikely but it would be the logical thing to do.”
“It’s very unlikely” might be the key phrase here because, according to another unnamed Olympic official who spoke to Reuters on Friday about the London rumors, “There is not a shred of truth in that.”
But let’s for a second just imagine the possibility. Could London actually pull it off? Regarding infrastructure, at least one man says London could do it. Will Glendinning, director of the major event consultants Allium and who worked on the London Organizing Committee for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, told The Standard:
“Yes of course it can be done. One of the UK’s greatest exports is our major events capability. The expertise exists and regarding facilities we are a couple of years away — more than enough time to get things ready.”
That may be true, but should London do it? Taking over the Games from Brazil, even if asked by the IOC, would most likely be looked at as a huge sign of disrespect and that could damage international relations between the two countries, which judging from a report put out by U.K.’s parliament, are pretty decent right now. The report specifically advocates for fostering a bilateral relationship that involves increasing trade and cooperating on issues such as drug enforcement and climate change. The report summarizes:
The growing political and economic importance of Brazil represents an opportunity for the UK, not a threat, and Brazil’s increasing economic power and political influence is very much a “good news” story for the UK and the wider world.