The Australian Olympic official who earlier this week slammed Rio de Janeiro's preparations for the 2016 Summer Games has backed off on his harsh comments.

"I want to underline that I still believe that [the] Rio Organizing Committee and the people of Brazil can indeed deliver excellent Games in 2016," John Coates said in a statement.

Only a few days ago, the International Olympic Committee vice president called the 2016 buildup "the worst I have experienced." FIFA has also expressed deep concerns about preparations for the upcoming World Cup in Brazil.

But Coates is now praising the efforts of IOC troubleshooter Gilbert Felli and the response of Brazilian officials who have struggled with construction delays and civil unrest.

"Time is of the essence but things are moving in the right direction," he said.

IOC officials have also completed a three-day visit to Pyeongchang, South Korea, site of the 2018 Winter Games. Though there remain concerns about marketing and venue construction, inspectors reported that the organizing committee there is making steady progress.

"We were able to see a large amount that has been accomplished," IOC coordination commission chair Gunilla Lindberg said.

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