The Olympic tennis warmup event for the Rio 2016 Games will be postponed by four months partly because of delays in construction, the International Tennis Federation said.
The test event had initially been scheduled to take place in August 2015. It will now be held in December of that year, Juan Margets, the ITF executive vice president who is responsible for the tournament, said in an interview at the French Open today.
“We wanted August, one year before the Rio Olympics, so we will have the same weather conditions,” Margets said. “That wasn’t possible, and they came back to us with one or two months’ delay. Then we were the ones to suggest December, because we have the U.S. Open in September and also Davis Cup and Fed Cup after that.”
The test event -- an ITF tournament with $25,000 in prize money -- will take place in the Barra Olympic Park. Unlike the London Olympics, when the tennis event was held at Wimbledon on the other side of the city from the Olympic Park, tennis will be near the Olympic Village and other sports venues.
The Rio tennis facility will have a 10,000-seat center court, two temporary stadiums that can seat 5,000 and 3,000 spectators and support and warm-up courts that hold 250 people.
Margets said organizers have started doing resurfacing work on the site where the tennis venue will be built.
Last month, a senior International Olympic Committee official said Rio de Janeiro’s preparations for the 2016 summer games were the worst he’d ever seen.
John Coates, an IOC vice president from Australia who’s been involved with Olympic sports for almost 40 years, said the situation in Rio had become “critical” and preparations were even worse than those for Athens, which was still completing venues on the eve of the event in 2004.
“After something like this, the only solution is for both parties to work together,” Margets said today. “In the last months we’ve seen progress. Communications have flown in a more timely and satisfactory manner for both sides.”
Rio’s Olympic preparation has been beset by issues including disagreement between municipal, state and federal governments over the division of costs. That led to a delay in establishing a budget and the start of construction work at some venues.