MONACO, Monaco - Swimmers and beach volleyball players will be competing in the midnight hour at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The International Olympic Committee and Brazilian organizers confirmed Friday that the competition schedule includes late-night sessions in the two sports — swimming finals running from 10 p.m. local time to midnight, and some beach volleyball matches starting at midnight on Copacabana Beach.
The times are geared toward NBC's night-time coverage in the United States, as well as Brazilian TV's tradition of showing sports events at late hours. Rio will be one hour ahead of U.S. eastern time during the games.
"The Olympic Games are a global event that is seen around the world and the schedule has to work around the world to give the best showcase for each sport," IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. "It's quite a balance. They seem to have reached a conclusion that suits everybody."
The IOC executive board also praised Rio's progress in tackling the delays that had put the Olympics at risk a few months ago, saying the crisis has eased but that there still is no time to lose with the games less than two years away.
"I'm 100 per cent confident that we will get the venues that we need ready in time," said the IOC's executive director of the Olympic Games, Christophe Dubi. "There is nothing today where we say, 'Whoa, this test event is at risk', or, for that matter, the games."
Putting together the sports competition timetable for an Olympics is always a challenge of meeting requests of broadcasters and sports federations. The International Association of Athletics Federations announced this month that it will hold some Rio track-and-field finals in the morning for the first time since 1988.
Swimming and beach volleyball, meanwhile, are going for late-night competition.
Australian Olympic Committee officials have objected to holding the swimming finals so late, complaining that the move was taken under pressure from U.S. broadcasters and would mean some medals would be decided after midnight.
Swimming governing body FINA and other officials said the following day's heats will be moved from the usual morning hours to 1 p.m., meaning swimmers will have 13 hours between sessions.
"We need to organize a schedule that the television asks, together with the international federations," Rio organizing committee head Carlos Nuzman said. "They decided with us. We have no problems with this. It will be good for the athletes."
Rio's overall preparations for the Olympics reached a crisis stage in May when sports federations and the IOC voiced concerns that the games were in jeopardy because of chronic delays.
The IOC introduced special measures, including assigning veteran administrator Gilbert Felli to work with organizers in Brazil.
While concerns remain over pollution in the Rio bay that will host sailing events, delays in construction of the main broadcast centre and legal wrangling over the golf course, the IOC said the situation has much improved.
IOC vice-president John Coates of Australia, who a few months ago publicly called Rio's preparations the "worst" he had ever experienced, told the Brazilians on Friday that "great progress had been made," Adams said.
"There are 20 months to go and we are in that phase with all games, less than two year to go, when it's really about delivery now," Adams said.
On Saturday, the IOC board will review preparations for the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, where a dispute over construction costs has raised concerns about the project.
The two-day board meeting in Monaco comes ahead of a two-day session of the full IOC that will vote on President Thomas Bach's 40-point reform program, including changes to the bidding process and sports program and creation of an Olympic television channel.
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By Stephen Wilson, The Associated Press