Deodoro cluster contract awarded

RIO DE JANEIRO -- A contract has finally been awarded for construction on the long-delayed second major venue complex for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Rio organizers said Wednesday the first of two contracts to build the Deodoro cluster was worth 643.7 million Brazilian reals, or $286 million. A second contract, worth about half that, has yet to be awarded.

The organizing committee says construction will begin before the end of August and should be completed in the first half of 2016. The Olympics open on Aug. 5, 2016.

Rio organizers have been criticized for delays in most aspects of South America's first games, including a slow-developing golf-course project and severe pollution in Guanabara Bay, the venue for Olympic sailing.

The Deodoro cluster in a run-down area of northern Rio will host events such as shooting, field hockey, equestrian, fencing, canoeing, mountain bike and BMX cycling, modern pentathlon and rugby. Some women's basketball will also be played there.

Deodoro is funded by public money. Spending on the Olympics is projected at about $17 billion, a mix of public and private money, and is expected to rise.

In April the International Olympic Committee interceded in the Rio games, sending troubleshooters to speed progress. The IOC point man is Gilbert Felli, the executive director of the Olympics Games, who is taking some responsibility form Carlos Nuzman, president of the organizing committee, and CEO Sidney Levy.