- Associated Press - Thursday, April 17, 2014

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) - Over 2,000 construction workers returned to their jobs at the Olympic Park on Thursday, ending a two-week strike that further slowed the trouble-plagued 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Rio Mais, the consortium building venues at the main Olympic cluster located 25 kilometers (15 miles) west of central Rio, said no more work stoppages were foreseen. Workers returned briefly on Wednesday, but were encouraged to leave after a few hours by union leaders.

About 2,300 workers have been off the job since April 3, lobbying for higher wages and more benefits. The strike added to delays in organizing South America’s first Olympics, which came under withering criticism last week from the International Olympic Committee.

Friday and Monday are national holidays in Brazil. Wednesday is also a local holiday in Rio de Janeiro.

Rio organizers got a second piece of good news.

Bids for tender were let on Thursday on the long-delayed Deodoro complex of venues, the second largest cluster for Rio 2016. Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes said he expected construction to start in the second half of the year. Work is expected to be completed just weeks before the Olympics open on Aug. 5, 2016.

“We have no room to spare,” Paes said on Wednesday. “We cannot make a single mistake. But there is still time to get it done.”

Deodoro, a run-down area in northern Rio, will host events such as shooting, field hockey, equestrian, canoeing and BMX. Some basketball games will also be there.

Rio organizers have acknowledged they are late with Deodoro, which is being built by the Rio municipal government.

Nawal El Moutawakel, the head of the IOC inspectors, said last month that “until ground is broken, Deodoro remains a project under intense pressure.”


Follow Stephen Wade at https://twitter.com/StephenWadeAP

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