Blocked toilets. Leaking pipes. Exposed wiring. Water leaked through the ceiling resulting in large puddles on the floor around cabling and wiring. Rooms smelling of gas.
No, we are not talking about the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games.
This is the state of the Olympic village in Rio de Janeiro — a swanky looking development of 31 new buildings next to the Olympic Park that will house some 18,000 athletes and other team members during the Games starting August 5.
The official opening of the Olympic Village in Rio turned to fiasco Sunday with the discovery of blocked toilets and leaky pipes, prompting Australia to call the facility “not safe or ready.”
Even Brazilian athletes who were meant to have started taking up lodgings in the brand-new complex from Sunday were being kept in hotels instead. Britain’s delegation said it, too, had encountered some “maintenance difficulties,” but added it was staying in the Village as planned.
The authorities have said on Monday that teething problems in Rio’s Olympic Village will be resolved by the end of the week.
“We have 630 men working to fix the problems at the Olympic Village,” Andrada said in comments tweeted by the government’s Olympic account.
In some good news, the Australian team, which has made the most high-profile complaints, struck an optimistic note, noting “fantastic” progress and saying that athletes should be able to move in on Wednesday.
Delays often occur in the final run-up to staging the Olympics, but Brazilian organizers have been embarrassed by a barrage of multiple problems as they prepare for South America’s first Games.
- Battered by bad news over the Zika virus
- Heavy pollution in the Olympic sailing and rowing areas
- Rampant armed crime across Rio
- Economy steeped in recession
- The arrest Thursday of 10 Brazilians suspected of planning attacks during the Olympics revived memories of the Munich Games in 1972 when an armed Palestinian group took Israeli athletes hostage and killed 11 of them
- It is already facing low ticket sales, general public apathy
Australia said Sunday it would delay taking up residence in the Village
“Problems include blocked toilets, leaking pipes, exposed wiring, darkened stairwells where no lighting has been installed and dirty floors in need of a massive clean,” the head of the Australian team, said in a statement.
During a test involving taps and toilets being turned on in apartments on several floors, “water came down walls, there was a strong smell of gas in some apartments and there was ‘shorting’ in the electrical wiring,” adding that this was the worst Olympic Village she’d seen in five Games.
However on Monday, Chiller told reporters there had been “fantastic progress today.”
Although several delegations have already expressed satisfaction with their residence, reports emerged Monday of fresh grumbling.
- The head of Argentina’s Olympic committee, Gerardo Werthein, was quoted by Clarin daily saying that out of five floors reserved for the country, “two are not habitable” and that his team had sought alternative lodging. “The apartments are completed on the outside, but when we tested them, we found problems with plumbing and electricity,” he said. “Rio said it will finish this, but we can’t take any risk.”
- Italy has contracted its own team of workers to finish off the building work, Brazil has complained of leaks on the ground floor, while Mexico’s team has encountered ceiling leaks and blocked drains, Globo news site reported.
- New Zealand’s team said Monday that it was “disappointed the Village wasn’t as ready as it might have been,” but that its advance party had overcome the problems.
The Olympic Games — the first to be held in South America — are to open on August 5, less than two weeks away.
The lack of preparedness in the Olympic Village was another embarrassing blow for host Brazil, which is struggling to show all will be well with the Olympiad.
Rio’s mayor, Eduardo Paes, tried to laugh off the matter, according to Brazilian media reports.
“We are going to make the Australians feel at home here. I’m almost putting a kangaroo out front to jump for them,” he said.
He also boasted that the Village was “more beautiful and better” than the one in Sydney in the 2000 Olympics.
If all the obstacles in the Village are surmounted, the athletes will find a self-contained community planned to have all the services they need over the 17-day Olympiad.
The features of the village include:
- Official lodgings which are shared rooms
- Fitted with anti-mosquito devices to prevent the spread of Zika
- Hundreds of thousands of condoms
- A gigantic eating hall
- A smaller restaurant
- Prayer rooms for different faiths.
With AFP inputs