Australian swimming’s head coach Jacco Verhaeren has described the apparent decision to stage the finals of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro from 10pm, local time, as showing “a lack of respect”.
While there has been no formal announcement confirming this, neither has the International Olympic Committee (IOC) moved to dismiss reports of late-night starts.
Instead IOC spokesman Mark Adams said: “There was no formal decision on the schedule, but the schedule is one that has broad acceptance.
“The games are a global event that will be seen around the world and the schedule has to work around the world to give the best showcase for each sport,” he said, adding “the athletes are at the very centre of that.”
“The athletes are happy in the case of swimming. FINA are happy.”
Such an assertion, though, is directly contradicted by Verhaeren who has guided one of the world’s biggest swimming nations since January.
Dutchman Verhaeren has coached at the last five Games and guided freestyler Pieter van den Hoogenband to three titles at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics.
He also oversaw Dutch success in London in 2012 including Ranomi Kromowidjojo’s triple gold.
The Dutchman, therefore, has proven pedigree and he told AFP: “It’s simple. It’s a lack of respect.”
The 45-year-old also pointed to the repercussions: “We don’t know how it works in terms of performance, in terms of health and preparation.
“Clearly the choice is not made for performance reasons. There is only one reason and that is television and money and only American television and money and that to me is not really fair.
“I think the biggest concern is the life in the village because athletes return to the village after swim down and maybe drug testing at 2am.
“They still need to have dinner because their whole time shifts. How to deal with that in an Olympic village where other sports wake up in the morning and you are trying to go to bed, there is a disturbing factor for other sports as well.”