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By Georgia Grimond, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Rio’s City Hall have cancelled the contract of Ibeg Engenharia who were in charge of providing the Olympic equestrian facilities at Deodoro, in Rio’s Zona Oeste (West Zone). Only last week, the same company, along with consortium partners, Tangran and Damiani, had their contract to build the Olympic Tennis Center cancelled too.

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A rider competed in the show-jumping arena at an Olympics test event at Deodoro, photo by Alex Ferro/Rio 2016.

The work at the equestrian complex, which was worth R$157 million, was terminated on January 21st due to delays in the schedule and non-compliance. The company has been fined R$10.1 million.

The consortium was fined a further R$11 million for the delays to the construction of the tennis center. The management was also held responsible for not paying 365 of its workers laid off in December and their FGTS, an Employee Indemnity Guarantee Fund.

“This is a practice that some engineering companies in Brazil do not realize can no longer be taken at that stage of the work. They fail to pay employees to press the government. If you see the history of “car washes”, they start like this, with the pressure of contractors. They think that the political authority will be frightened and that the work can be delayed,” said the mayor Eduardo Paes during a public event in Rio.

In a statement to the press, Ibeg said it was “perplexed” by decision to end the company’s work in Deodoro. Without denying the delays, the contractor said that they could be explained by “economic and financial imbalances”, non-payment and by the City Hall “not presenting the basic design bid”.

According to Riourbe, the office of municipal urbanization, the total cost of work of either the equestrian or tennis centers will not change. A commission is to be created to determine the remaining balance of the contract, which will then be paid to the next contractor.

The Olympics tennis center in Barra da Tijuca is ninety percent ready. All equipment from the site was due to be removed by today, January 25th, and the City Hall is now in possession of the keys to the Tennis Center and employee’s documents.

The Olympic venue at Deodoro has been a major concern of the organizers since the beginning of the Games’ preparations. Responsibility for it was originally with the federal government before it was moved to the state and then the municipality, which accounts in some part for the delays.

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