A test event for golf’s return to the Olympics at the 2016 Rio Games has been scheduled for Nov. 26-29, more than eight months before the opening ceremony, according to a calendar of test events released Wednesday.
Golf is in the second “wave” of a three-part test program called Aquece Rio administered by the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee spanning from August 2015 to May 2016 and encompassing 45 separate sports competitions.
The news is welcome relief for organizers. The course, designed by renowned architect Gil Hanse and cut out of a protected nature preserve in the fast-growing Barra da Tijuca suburb of Rio de Janeiro, has been dogged by legal challenges and construction delays from its inception.
In November, a judge rejected a request to stop construction of the Olympic course over environmental concerns — allaying fears that the course would not be ready for a test event before golf’s return to the Olympics for the first time since 1904 — but the controversy remains.
A group of demonstrators called Occupy Golf have set up camp near the course to protest the destruction of the reserve and decry the use of water on the course in the midst of a countrywide drought. They have also raised questions about Rio mayor Eduardo Paes’ relationship with property developers connected to the construction of the course.
They’re not alone. A Rio state prosecutor has opened an inquiry into allegations that the mayor helped the course developer make a steep profit by skirting environmental regulations.