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April 27, 2016

OLYMPIC FEVER: What Brazil is worrying about with 100 days to go.

Completion of the subway link has long been in mild jeopardy. Should it fail to materialize, travel during the Olympics may become daunting. In a cost-cutting drive, organizers slashed the number of Games-time transportation vehicles from 5,000 to 4,000 (losing 20,000 of the initial 70,000 volunteers in the process — fewer ways to get there, fewer people to give you directions).

An International Olympic Committee (IOC) team says the venues are “98% complete” but test events in gymnastics and swimming have been hit by power outages and a number of other minor gripes.

The issue of water quality in Rio’s Guanabara Bay, home to sailing events and polluted by raw sewage, has been without a clear solution — so to speak — for so long that athletes accept they must come armed with precautions against illness.

“What we see now is that 60% of the surface is clean,” IOC president Thomas Bach said last week, trying to look at the bay and find a bright side. “Without the Games it would be zero.”

More seriously still, a newly-built elevated bike path, one of the mayor’s projects aimed transforming the city ahead of the Games, partly collapsed last week, killing two people — on the same day as performers lit the Olympic torch in Greece.

And then there’s the small matter of the impending impeachment of Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff.

Often under threat, the Olympics eventually work out somehow. The lead-up to the 2004 summer games in Athens was especially sweaty, but Brazil seems determined to top even that.