Rio begins work on Olympic golf course

Rio de Janeiro: Work is set to begin on Rio de Janeiro`s 2016 Olympic Games golf course after local authorities granted an environmental license for the project.

Preliminary land clearing and soil preparation work are due to begin within days after the municipal environment secretary here issued the permit on Wednesday.

"We are very happy and satisfied to have begun clearing the area. It`s the start of a long process to transform this land into a beautiful golf course," project chief Gil Hanse said.

Despite the permit, the course in the Barra da Tijuca neighborhood is still the subject of a legal row between local businessman Pasquale Mauro and holding company Elmway Participacoes, who both claim to own the land.

According to Rio`s Olympic organising committee, work on the course is scheduled to be finished in less than two-and-a-half years, meeting a commitment made to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

"We are delighted that work has begun on the golf course and we continue to be on track to have it ready in time for a test event in 2015, as planned," Rio organising committee chief Carlos Nuzman said.

"This facility is the key to the legacy of Rio 2016, as it will be the first public golf course in Rio. It will have a key role in developing the sport in Brazil."