RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Like other delayed venues for the beleaguered Rio 2016 Olympics, work on the golf course has fallen behind schedule.
But grass has been going down for several weeks at the course, which has created an upbeat mood as golf prepares to return to the Olympics after a 112-year absence.
That changed Saturday when Rio organizers confirmed that a state prosecutor could halt work on the course unless the developer shows it is following environmental regulations and other requirements under Brazilian law.
Rio 2016 spokesman Mario Andrada confirmed the inquiry on Saturday and said developers had been asked to provide documentation that would allow the work to continue.
"The state prosecutor is asking for the papers to show the work is proceeding according to the law," Andrada told The Associated Press. "We believe all the rules are being followed."
Any delay would be another blow to Rio's troubled Olympics. The International Olympic Committee has dispatched a special troubleshooter to accelerate Rio's work, and recently IOC vice president John Coates called Rio's preparations were the "worst" in memory.
Construction on the privately developed course, located about 25 kilometers (15 miles) west of Rio's famous Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, had been delayed by an on-going legal dispute over land ownership, protests by environmentalists centered on the loss of a wetland area, and teething problems for a sport new to Brazil.
Plans call for the course to be public after the Olympics, although it's being built in a luxury apartment development where units are selling for a minimum of $2.5 million with many priced much, much higher.
In a recent interview with AP, American golf architect Gil Hanse said the course should be fully grassed by November, and could be playable midway through 2015. He said it would not be "tournament ready" until a few months before the games begin on Aug. 5, 2016.
"I think we are as organized as we have ever been," he said. "Going forward we have to make sure we don't all of a sudden start to rush the finish work. Because ultimately the details of the finished surface are what players are going to see. You need to lavish lots of time and attention on the details of the finished surfaces."
Hanse said a test event is likely before the Olympics, although Peter Dawson, head of the International Golf Federation, suggested it might be difficult.
The course itself could be dwarfed by what's going up around it in Barra da Tijuca, the site for the Olympic Park and many games' venues.