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IOC recognized progress in Rio, but still on very tight schedule

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- The IOC says preparations for the 2016 Olympics are on schedule but emphasized to Rio de Janeiro organizers the need to remain vigilant in a "critical" year for the games.

The International Olympic Committee coordination commission ended its latest visit Wednesday saying it saw progress in the city's preparations but recognized there was a tight schedule to get a lot of work done.

"Many projects will still have to be delivered simultaneously," commission president Nawal El Moutawakel said at a news conference. "Despite this large amount of work still to be done, we remain confident, but we must all stay vigilant and continue to work hard so that the timelines are respected."

The commission made its first visit of the year to Rio, and fourth since the city won the bid for the first games in South America. It visited Maracana Stadium, which will host the opening and closing ceremonies, along with the city's renovated port area and the local organizing committee's new headquarters. The three-day trip also was marked by meetings with local organizers.

"We will leave Rio in a few hours satisfied by what we have seen, satisfied by what we have heard; time is of the essence but we have confidence that Rio, and we have confidence that Brazil, will deliver," El Moutawakel said.

The commission said 2013 will be key for the city because much of the work needed for the Olympics must get under way now.

The IOC was in Rio for the first time since saying that "time is ticking" and that organizers must attack the project "with all vigor" to guarantee a successful event in 2016. Last week, IOC President Jacques Rogge said he didn't think he would need to publicly warn organizers about delays despite reports of slow progress in preparations.

"I repeat here what the IOC president said in Lausanne," IOC executive director Gilbert Felli said. "We don't have any yellow card to send to Rio. Everything is working according to pace."

Felli had a blunt "no" answer when asked if Rio was behind schedule on its preparations.

There were other unanswered questions after the commission left.

With three years to go before the games, the official budget has yet to be announced, and new organizing committee CEO Sidney Levy said a final number likely won't be revealed before May.

Local organizers said they were still working with international federations to analyze options for the venues for rugby, basketball, diving and fencing. Field hockey was expected to be moved from the main Olympic Park to the Deodoro cluster.

Earlier Wednesday, Moutawakel was caught by surprise by a local court official waiting to meet her at her hotel to deliver a document notifying her and the IOC about the ongoing legal dispute involving the land where the Olympic golf course is expected to be built.

She said she complied but couldn't comment further because the document will have to be translated and analyzed by IOC lawyers in Switzerland.