Rio Olympics: The Olympic City Is '98 Percent Ready' But Grant Hackett May Miss Out On Mentor Role

19/04/2016 3:52 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
Picture of the Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre that will host the diving and synchronized swimming at the upcoming Olympic Games, at the Olympic Park in Rio, Brazil, taken on January 12, 2016 during the visit by the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes. Brazil will hold the Rio 2016 Olympic Games from August 5 through 21. AFP PHOTO / VANDERLEI ALMEIDA / AFP / VANDERLEI ALMEIDA (Photo credit should read VANDERLEI ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)

It's starting to look extremely doubtful that Grant Hackett will be a mentor to Australian athletes at the upcoming Rio Olympics in August.

The Australian Olympic team traditionally employs former athletes from a range of Olympic and non-Olympic sports to act as mentors at the Games. Only last week, Australian head swimming coach Jacco Verhaeren said Hackett "is the same legend he ever was. Moving forward, we will use him as mentor. He can’t get rid of us”.

But will Olympic officials now dispose of Hackett after his little plane incident on the weekend?

Australia's Rio Chef de Mission Kitty Chiller put the question in the too-hard-basket at the launch of the Australian Olympic competition wear on Tuesday, flicking the issue back over to Swimming Australia.

kitty chiller

Chiller competed in modern pentathlon at Sydney 2000 and is launching a tilt at the world smiling record in the lead-up to Rio.

"We were surprised and shocked as was Swimming Australia," Chiller said of Hackett's antics. "He'd had a huge week almost qualifying for the team, then slipping into the commentary role. It was above all else a surprise and sad to see his week finish that way."

"We don't even know all the facts of this case yet so we'd need to wait and see what Swimming Australia decided and then we'd consider that."

So it's a big maybe on Hackett, who seems to have more and more of the Shane Warne about him -- in that he's a brilliant analyst behind the mic, but unpredictable as hell in real life.

grant hackett

Oops, I forgot the rule about not being a total idiot in public.

In more positive Olympics news, it appears Rio Olympic organisers are actually on track. Except for the two events contested on actual tracks -- namely, the track cycling and the athletics.

'Rio is 98 percent ready," Chiller declared on Tuesday. Naturally your curious correspondent asked Chiller which bits fall into the two percent.

"The velodrome and the velodrome," she responded. "And a little of the track."

Rio is much further along in its preparations than had been feared a year or two back when the International Olympic Committee gave organisers a massive hurry-up. And it's definitely better placed than Athens 2004 -- the last really disorganised host city -- where some venues were declared ready just days before competition started.

Chiller also said the vibe in Rio is building even while all politicial hell breaks loose. This week the country's lower house passed a motion to impeach Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. But Rio locals -- who are known as "Cariocas" -- are really starting to catch the Olympic mood.

"They're like Australians. They’re very passionate about sport and about supporting their sports people. So I think the Games will actually be a really nice diversion for what’s going on in the country," Chiller said.

"Every single local I’ve spoken to is really supportive of the Games. They are genuinely excited, they’re looking forward to it. It’s something good for the country."

rio olympic park aquatic centre

Rio's Maria Lenk Acquatics Centre. Think of it as a mini Ipanema. Which we dare you to say quickly five times.

Chiller said she believed the Games would provide not just a mood kick but an economic benefit to Rio.

"What you have to remember is the money that federal and state governments put in goes to legacy items. The metro line, the roads, the facilities that locals can use, that’s their legacy of the games. The people of the city are going to be much better off."

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