RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — In a move to protect a nature reserve, a Brazilian court has proposed changes that throw into question the future of the golf course being built for the 2016 Olympics.
The course developer and the city of Rio de Janeiro, both defendants in a lawsuit brought by a public prosecutor, have until Sept. 17 to say if they will make changes to the layout proposed by the court and Rio Judge Eduardo Klausner.
If not, it's unclear where golf will be played in the 2016 Olympics when it returns after a 112-year absence.
The course is being carved out of an environmentally protected area — some of the city's last green space and most valuable real estate — and was approved by Rio's city government in a legal move that's being questioned.
The golf project has been in dispute since plans to build the course began almost five years ago.
Public prosecutor Marcus Leal, arguing before Judge Klausner on Wednesday, said questions of ownership and environmental problems surrounding the course were well known.
"This is not a surprise," he said.
The court's proposal, which allows construction to continue but no new ground to be broken, seems to have caught many flat-footed.
Some have questioned the need to build a new course for the Olympics. At least one other venue in the Rio area, the Itanhanga Golf Club, might have been suitable. It has hosted the European Tour, and a U.S. LPGA Tour event.
Some has suggested financial and real estate interests were behind the push to build the Olympic course.
Ty Votaw, vice president of golf world governing body the IGF, tried to find a bright light.
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