Future of Olympic golf course in hands of court

By Stephen Wade, AP

RIO DE JANEIRO–A Brazilian court is set to decide the future of the golf course for the 2016 Olympics, a layout that is being carved out of a nature reserve with luxury high-rise apartments planned around the edges.

The city of Rio de Janeiro and the course developer are defendants in a lawsuit that alleges environmental laws were broken in authorizing and building the course. Earlier this month, Rio judge Eduardo Klausner gave them until Wednesday to say if the design can be modified to offer concessions to environmentalists.

Golf’s return to the Olympics after 112 years is a centerpiece of the Rio Games. But the course has been plagued by legal challenges over land ownership, questions about the impact on a local ecosystem, and other delays that date back almost five years.

The court has suggested that the developer creates a corridor 400 meters wide to allow wildlife to move between wooded and wetland areas on either side of the course.

“It is in society’s interests that the Olympics takes place, and it’s also in society’s interests that the environment be preserved,” Klausner said at a hearing two weeks ago. “What has to be observed is legality, and within legality is respect for the environment.”