Plans for a new golf course for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro were thrown into uncertainty last week when city officials failed to present documents in court proving ownership of the land on which the course is to be built.
A Brazilian court had issued a search warrant for the contracts on behalf of a company who says it owns the property.
In an embarrassing declaration, city officials in Rio said it had not signed contracts because the golf course was a “private undertaking.”
A public announcement earlier this year heralded the development and said the city had an agreement from the landowner and construction company to pay for the $30m golf course.
“The golf course is an undertaking exclusively private, which will be developed by the Rio 2016 Committee,” said a spokeperson for Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes’ office.
The Olympic golf course project made headlines in March when it was announced that American architect Gil Hanse had beaten off a host of golf’s biggest names to design the golf course, in the suburbs of Rio, for an Olympics that sees the return of golf to its roster of sports after a break of 100-years.
Organisers for the Olympics, based in Rio, are said to be optimistic that the dispute will be resolved by the end of June.
They told ESPN.com that the landowner will be part of an association that will run the course along with the chosen construction firm.
The final decision on what happens to the land rests with Brazil’s Higher Court of Justice and a final judgment could take months if not years.
It is not yet known whether there is a contingency plan for the golf course project, or an alternative site should the dispute rumble on.
Gil Hanse, who is best known for his work on Castle Stuart Golf Links in Inverness, and who was recently hired to remodel the “Blue Monster” at Doral by Donald Trump, is said to have admitted the project’s future is now in the hands of the courts.
Olympic Golf Facts
- Golf debuted at the second modern Olympics in Paris in 1900 but was removed after the 1904 St. Louis Games.
- It was reinstated in a vote by the International Olympic Committee in 2009 and has a spot guaranteed in 2020.
Existing golf courses in Brazil could host the golf tournament at the Olympics but organizers want to leave a legacy to fuel the growth of the sport.
It will be used as a public facility after the 2016 Games.