The cross-country mountain bike course for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics has been thrown into doubt after a forest fire broke out near the shooting venue, which runs alongside both the MTB and BMX tracks.
A snapshot from Twitter user @peteflick shows just how bad the blaze was, and while heavy rain helped put it to an end, there are fears that damage has been done to the mountain biking course, though this has not yet been confirmed.
— Peter Flick (@peteflick) August 16, 2016
The fire started amidst strong winds around 4pm local time in Rio, fanning the flames towards the Deodoro venue. Unconfirmed reports arose at the time that the mountain bike course had to be evacuated as a result but the UCI have since denied these, saying that no athletes were present for the incident.
An official statement from the Olympics organising committee was later released on the matter, stating: “The goal is to prevent the fire reaching the surrounding community. Rio 2016 is assessing the impact on the mountain bike course. There were no injuries.
“High winds made the fire advance close to the mountain bike venue. During the firefighters work to contain it, the fire changed it’s direction and doesn’t represent any risk to the venue."
If all goes to plan, the Olympic mountain biking will kick off on Saturday 20th August with the women’s category, and the men are set to take to the track the following day on Sunday 21st.