Activists disrupt IOC meeting

2015-03-01 18:22

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Rio de Janeiro - Environmental activists have disrupted a meeting in a luxury hotel's lobby where IOC officials were meeting.  The activists were protesting against ecological destruction related to the 2016 Olympics.

With little progress visible on Olympic promises to clean up the city's waterways filled with sewage and trash and the Olympic golf course being carved out of a nature preserve, environmental issues have become a major issue.

A small group of activists managed to steal the spotlight from IOC President Thomas Bach when at least two women pushed their way into the lobby of the hotel where Bach was chairing a meeting of his executive board on another floor.

One of the activists, who grabbed a five-ring Olympic flag and tried to wave it, shouted and blew on a whistle as security guards tried to restrain her. Other protesters outside the hotel held banners, including one saying "Ecological Holocaust. IOC go home." Another read: "Thomas Bach is a nature killer!"

The chaotic scene was witnessed by about 100 journalists from around the world waiting for the start of a news conference by Bach.

Environmental impact

Jean Carlos Novaes, who eventually reached the hotel lobby, said he represented the environmental group "Golf for Whom." Other protesters said they represented a group called "Occupy Golf," and "Occupy Marina da Gloria," the venue for Olympic sailing.

"We are not against the Olympics, but we are against the corruption around the golf course that is being arranged by the mayor (Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes)," Novaes said. "They are stealing with the Olympics as an excuse."

Paes has been a strong ally of the IOC, and lauded for helping to organize the games. A public prosecutor is also considering a lawsuit against him for granting alleged concessions to the billionaire developer of the golf course, where 140 luxury apartments are being built with prices in the $2 -7m range.

Bach, peppered with questions about the environmental impact on venues, and delays in cleaning up Rio's waterways, said the games' overall impact on Rio's environment would be positive.

"All of this without the games would not have happened," Bach said. "So, again, it's clear evidence what a positive legacy these games are leaving in the infrastructure, the social, and in the environmental areas."

Read more on:    brazil  |  conservation

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