Rio Judge Orders Seizure of Olympic Broadcasting Equipment

  • Court says IOC’s broadcast arm broke Brazil labor laws
  • Vehicles, transmission equipment and bank accounts targeted

A Brazilian court on Monday ordered the seizure of International Olympic Committee vehicles and equipment following claims of labor abuse.

Olympic Broadcasting Services, created in 2001 by the IOC, is responsible for sending live video feeds the games to broadcasters around the world. Rio’s Ministry of Labor alleges that the broadcaster employed more than 2,000 workers at the Summer Games under illegal contracts that required them to work more than 10 hours a day.

The court also froze the broadcasting service’s funds in Brazil pending any future compensation or penalties.

The ruling is the latest in a long list of legal obstacles that have dogged international event organizers. Before the Games began, a judge declared that local traffic enforcement couldn’t enforce the special lanes for Olympic vehicles; his judgment was reversed. Development of the Olympic golf course was stalled while organizers successfully defended an environmental challenge. And an investigation is ongoing into the abuse of public funding to build a new bus network.

The IOC didn’t respond to an e-mail for comment. A person who answered the phone at Olympic Broadcasting Services’ headquarters in Madrid said there was no one available to comment Monday.

The prosecution was based on complaints and inspections of Olympic venues, the Ministry of Labor said in a statement. The broadcasting service filed an appeal, which has been denied, the statement added.

The IOC has additional legal issues in Rio, with Patrick Hickey, the elected head of the European Olympic Committees, and the Olympic Council of Ireland, charged with ticket scalping. Hickey remains in Brazil, where police want to question IOC President Thomas Bach in relation to the case. Bach hasn’t traveled to Brazil since the games ended, skipping the Paralympics. The IOC have pledged to assist police with their inquiries.