A land dispute is threatening construction of the golf course in Sao Paulo, Brazil, for the 2016 summer games, when the sport is to be played at the Olympics for the first time since 1904.

Malvern-based designer Gil Hanse's firm will build the golf course.

The city might have to find a new site, meaning the project would start from scratch and possibly not be ready for test events in 2015.

The city said in response to the Associated Press that it just became aware of the situation on Thursday and was "evaluating the measures it will take."

It was the first time the city officially recognized there could be an issue involving the land. It had been dismissing the prospect of a legal dispute and downplaying problems affecting the course.

Hanse told the AP by phone on Thursday he had not yet been notified by city officials about the dispute.

"If it was important, they would probably bring it up," Hanse said. "We've been selected to do that particular job and we feel comfortable with the time frame that we have."

A final decision on who owns the golf-course land could take months or several years. There are ownership disputes throughout the posh Barra da Tijuca neighborhood, and few are resolved quickly.

Hanse said he was not worried, but acknowledged that any changes now could affect the project, which was based entirely on the disputed land.

"If they decided for whatever reason to make changes, you would have to start all over again," he said. "Our design is specifically for that site. You can't just put it someplace else."

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