IN AN unusually blunt public warning, a vice president of the International Olympic Committee yesterday called the delayed preparations for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro "the worst I have experienced."
John Coates, who has made six trips to Brazil as part of the IOC's coordination commission for Rio, said the Brazilians are behind "in many, many ways" and are in worse shape than Greek organizers were in preparing for the 2004 Olympics.
Despite the critical delays, the Australian said there is no backup plan and the games will take place in Rio.
Coates, speaking at an Olympic forum in Sydney, noted that the IOC had taken the unprecedented step of embedding experts in the host city to help the local organizing committee deliver the games.
Brazil has also come under fire from soccer's world governing body, FIFA, for long delays in construction of stadiums and other infrastructure and the overdue delivery of venues for the World Cup, which kicks off in June. Two years out from the 2016 Olympics, the situation on the construction front is just as bleak.
"We have become very concerned. They are not ready in many, many ways," Coates said.
* A 21-year-old member of the Alabama swim team taking shelter in the basement of a home was among those killed by tornadoes that swept across the Midwest and South this week. John Servati, a junior from Tupelo, Miss., was killed Monday night when a retaining wall collapsed, said a Tuscaloosa city spokesman. Servati, a business major who made the dean's list, competed in three events at the Southeastern Conference championships last year. He was also a three-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll.
* Temple's football opener at Vanderbilt will kick off at 9:15 p.m. on Aug. 28. The game will be played at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, Tenn.
* NASCAR punished Marcos Ambrose and Casey Mears for their postrace altercation in the garage at Richmond International Raceway that led to Ambrose punching Mears in the face. Ambrose was fined $25,000 and placed on probation through May 28. Mears was fined $15,000 and received the same probation.
* Notah Begay suffered a heart attack last week in Dallas and is expected to make a full recovery, Golf Channel said. Begay, a 41-year-old analyst for Golf Channel and NBC Sports, was taken Thursday to Methodist Hospital in Dallas where a stent was inserted to unblock his right coronary artery. Begay, a Navajo from New Mexico, has a history of heart disease in the family. Golf Channel said Begay will be off the air indefinitely while he recovers.
* Three-time Chicago Marathon champion Lilya Shobukhova, of Russia, has been banned for 2 years for blood doping and faces demands to repay millions of dollars in winnings.