Environmentalists challenge Olympic course layout


Just as things seemed to be moving in the right direction at the Olympic golf course in Rio de Janeiro another possible legal roadblock emerged on Wednesday.

In what the Associated Press described as a chaotic and contentious two-hour hearing, environmentalists challenged the current layout of the course and lobbied a judge to alter the routing before any more damage is done to the Atlantic rainforest area.

The lawsuit was brought against the city of Rio and the course developer. While the judge ruled that work on the course could continue, crews would not be allowed to clear any new areas before the parties return to court on Sept. 17.

Judge Eduardo Klausner attempted to persuade both parties to come up with a plan that would preserve as much of the rainforest area as possible while still allowing the course to be built.

“It is in society's interests that the Olympics take place, and it's also in society's interests that the environment be preserved,” Klausner told the Associated Press. “What has to be observed is legality, and within legality is respect for the environment.”

The Olympic golf course has been beset by a host of delays and legal challenges over land ownership. At the Open Championship in July International Golf Federation vice president Ty Votaw said progress was being made, but it was important that the developer stay on schedule.

Rio 2016 released a “tentative” test event calendar last month, and the golf competition is scheduled to begin Aug. 15, 2015, although no official announcement from the IGF has been made regarding the event that will likely be a PGA Tour Latinoamerica tournament.

“There are contingency plans,” Votaw said in July. “What they are is not something we're going to share right now, but there are contingency plans.”

One proposal that would allow the construction of the course to continue would include the creation of a 400 meter-wide corridor to allow for the circulation of animals between the wooded areas on either side of the course.