London has been approached in secret to host the 2016 Olympic Games because preparations in Rio are so far behind schedule, it has been claimed.
The Evening Standard reported the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has sounded out London, after finding out that Brazilian authorities have done only 10% of the required work on facilities and infrastructure.
A source told the paper: "At a comparable planning stage in 2004 Athens had done 40% of preparations on infrastructure, stadiums and so on. London had done 60%. Brazil has done 10% — and they have just two years left. So the IOC is thinking, 'What's our plan B?'"
"Obviously, the answer would be to come back to London. It's very unlikely but it would be the logical thing to do."
The IOC has denied the report and there is no doubt that stripping Rio of the Olympics would be a major slap in the face for Brazil.
But according to industry experts who helped organise the 2012 Games in London, the IOC is sure to have a backup plan in place should preparations in Brazil fall catastrophically behind schedule.
Earlier this year, IOC John Coates betrayed mounting concern within the organisation at the state of construction work, when he called the situation: "The worst I've experienced."
Events consultant Will Glendinning told the Standard: "If I were the IOC I would make sure I had a plan B and a plan C."
He insisted it would not be a big challenge for the capital city of England to step in and host the 2016 Olympics.
"One of the UK's greatest exports is our major events capability. The expertise exists and regarding facilities we are a couple of years away — more than enough time to get things ready," said Glendinning.
Worries about sluggish preparation in Brazil for the 2016 Olympics will only have been amplified by construction works for the World Cup in Brazil, which kicks off in less than eight weeks.
Earlier this year, FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke blasted officials in Brazil, where stadia stood unfinished with deadline fast approaching.
"Not only is it very behind in its construction, but it has failed to meet any of the deadlines," he said.