By Nick Butler

Trucks and diggers arriving to start long-awaited construction work on the Deodoro Cluster ©Rio 2016/Patricia da MattAt long last, Rio de Janeiro's City Government have announced that construction work at the Deodoro Olympic Park has begun, two years after it was initially due to and little more than two years until the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games. 

The Deodoro Park is the second largest venues cluster to be used during Rio 2016, with eight Olympic and four Paralympic sports due to be held there.

But the venue, to the north of the main Olympic Park in Barra de Tijuca, has formed the focus of the bombardment of criticism the Games' organisers have received in recent months.

In April, International Olympic Committee (IOC) vice-president John Coates claimed preparations were the worst he had seen in his long association with the Games, while IOC Executive Director Gilbert Felli singled out the Deodoro Complex for being two years behind schedule.

Officials from several of the sports due to be held in the Park have also voiced concerns. 

But, following the long-awaited announcement of the two companies who will take charge of the process last month, the news that construction has finally begun is a major boost for the Games. 

"This is a very important day," said Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman.

"We are very proud to see work start on Deodoro Olympic Park.

"It underlines the important legacy that the Pan-American Games left to Rio, and the new confidence in the success of the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

"Today, Brazil has a highly positive image due to the FIFA World Cup and I'm certain that our Games will be no different."

There is a lot of construction work required to prepare the proposed venues on the Deodoro Cluster to the high-levels shown in artist's impressions ©Rio 2016There is a lot of construction work required to prepare the proposed venues on the Deodoro Cluster to the high-levels shown in artist's impressions ©Rio 2016

Although there is certainly a lot more work to be done, and many more concerns still exist, this is a further sign that the worst may be over for Rio 2016, as organisers look to build upon the ongoing success of the FIFA World Cup in the country. 

Three of the venues in the Park, the National Shooting Centre, National Equestrian Centre and Modern Pentathlon Aquatics Centre, only require renovation, while two of the others, the Rugby and Modern Pentathlon Arena and the Olympic Mountain Bike Park, will only be constructed on a temporary basis.

But four permanent venues will also be developed: the Deodoro Arena, Olympic Hockey Centre, Olympic BMX Centre and Olympic Whitewater Stadium, and it is hoped these will form a key part of the sporting legacy in the city. 

For the tender process, the Deodoro site was divided into two regions, separated by a railway line.

Construction has only begun in the north region, although this includes every venue except the National Equestrian Centre, with construction work due to begin there in August.

The consortium Complexo Deodoro, formed by the contractors Queiroz Galvão S/A and OAS S/A, is responsible for developing the northern region.

It is hoped all of the work in the Deodoro Olympic Park will be completed in the first half of 2016, so well before the Opening Ceremony of the Games on August 5, although given the deadline-keeping so far, it cannot be presumed this will in fact be the case. 

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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