The 2016 summer Olympic games are less than two weeks away — and it’s looking like the whole event will be a disaster.
Australia’s team leader called the facilities for athletes in Rio de Janeiro “uninhabitable” and has announced she is keeping the delegation’s 700 athletes or staff out of the Athletes’ Village for at least two days, citing electrical and plumbing problems in the sprawling complex.
“Electricity and water is not a good combination,” Kitty Chiller told reporters Sunday, when the village was set to be officially opened for athletes.
Chiller said this was her fifth Olympics, and she came down hard on village preparations.
“I have never experienced a village in this state — or lack of state — of readiness at this point in time,” she said.
The 31-building village is expected to house 18,000 athletes and officials at the height of the games. It was not clear how many athletes were housed in the village on Sunday.
This is the latest problem for the games, which have been hit by concern about the Zika virus, security threats, water pollution and severe budget cuts.
Chiller and Australian team spokesman Mike Tancred described a wide array of plumbing, electrical and cleaning issues at the Village. Tancred said only 10 of the 31 buildings were determined to be inhabitable.
“We’re having plumbing problems, we’ve got leaking pipes,” Tancred told AP. “We’ve got electrical problems. We’ve got cleaning problems. We’ve got lighting problems in some of the stairwells. We did a stress test on Saturday, turned on the taps and flushed the toilets, and water came flooding down the walls.”
Chiller listed the same problems, and added more.
“There was a strong smell of gas in some apartments and there was ‘shorting’ in the electrical wiring,” she said. “We have been living in nearby hotels because the village is simply not safe or ready.”
Chiller said six Australian athletes due to arrive Monday and 50 on Tuesday would temporarily stay in hotels or other accommodation. She said she hopes they can move into the village quickly, and sounded encouraged.
“I am reasonably confident that we will be able enter the village on Wednesday,” she said.
She described other amenities in the village as among the best.
“This is one of the most beautiful villages I’ve ever been in,” she said. “It looks spectacular. There are just teething issues in some of the service inside the building.”
Several teams are hiring tradesmen to fix the problems, and some may look for compensation from organizers.
Italian team leader Carlo Mornati said his national Olympic committee, CONI, had been hiring workmen to carry out repairs for days.
“Among these unfinished areas are also a few apartments in block 20, the one to be used by Italy, and where manual workers, electricians, plumbers and bricklayers – hired by CONI officials there as a matter of urgency – have been working over the past few days so that the athletes’ accommodation can be brought up to normal conditions as soon as possible,” he said in a statement.
The U.S. Olympic Committee acknowledged there were problems.
“As is the case with every games, we’re working with the local organizers to address minor issues and make sure the village is ready for Team USA athletes,” spokesman Patrick Sandusky told The Associated Press
The International Olympic Committee and local organizers held emergency talks Sunday and said athletes with unfinished rooms would “be placed in the best available accommodation in other buildings,” estimating that fixing the problems “will take another few days.”
Local reports said about 5 percent of the 3,600 apartments had gas, water and electrical faults, and some were without toilet fixtures.
Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes took a shot at the Australians at the opening on Sunday.
“This is an incredible village, more beautiful and better than Sydney,” he said, referring to the 2000 Olympics in Australia. He said he was tempted to put “a kangaroo jumping outside” to make them happy.
The village contains tennis courts, soccer fields, seven swimming pools with mountains and the sea as a backdrop.
The apartments are to be sold after the Olympics with some prices reaching $700,000. The development cost about $1.5 billion, built by Brazilian billionaire Carlos Carvalho.
New Zealand team leader Rob Waddell said he was disappointed the village wasn’t quite ready “and it hasn’t been easy.”
“Our team has had to get stuck in to get the job done,” Waddell said. “It’s been fair to say there has been more work than we anticipated with the building … but we’ve got it to a space now that it will be just fine for athletes when they turn up.”
New Zealand’s Olympic rowing champion Mahe Drysdale, who said he was the first athlete from any country to enter the village, added facilities were in need of a few “finishing touches.”
“Already taken ownership of the Village being the very first athlete from any country to arrive and get through the gates,” Drysdale said on Instagram. “All is good.
“Few finishing touches still to be made but when you arrive at 5am on opening day, you can’t expect it to be perfect.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
Southern By Choice says
How about, just not “sanitary:” This is an example of a third world mentality – coming soon to the USA. I am sure most people in Rio wonder what all of the fuss is about, since this “village” is probably better housing than 80% of the citizens have. And, I know, Rio is not really considered a “third country” – but it is fast becoming one, as socialism and political correctness move in
jan schilling says
There is a great deal of comparing, city to city when the initial city is awarded the hosting honor…obviously they should have checked on major amenities such as toilets, working plumbing, electricity, clean facilities..wonder how the other cities that had applied, and we’re not selected, feel. Our athletes deserve more than this. They shouldn’t have to “settle” for anything less then perfect
Doug Gentry says
The City has said they could not afford to put on the event, months ago so where did they get the money ?
rodney burke says
not legally that is for sure.
I guess they needed someone like Donald Trump to get it done right and on time.
Sounds like the Trump condos in Mexico. Now he can declare bankruptcy and go back to campaigning.
Rio was a bad choice from the get go.
Been to Rio and it is not only scorching hot there, there are areas where the shacks etc
where the people live are horrible. No wonder disease is rampant there. i wish only the
best for all athletes.
rodney burke says
cancel the games. Rio is a dangerous place health wise for them to be. Solve the problem. Have a permanent site for the games.
Sounds like the village is a slum.
I hope CONI is flying the workmen in from Italy.
Matt the Taxpayer says
RIO HAD YEARS TO GET IT TOGETHER & FIGURE EVERYTHING OUT & SHOULD BE ABLE TO PROVIDE A GREAT OLYMPIC EXPERIENCE FOR THE ATHLETES AND SPECTATORS……BUT… ITS JUST NOT GONNA HAPPEN…. CANT / SHOULD NOT EVER HAVE AN OLYMPIC EVENT IN A NOW 3RD WORLD COUNTRY.. BRAZIL , ESPECIALLY RIO IS A VERY VERY DANGEROUS PLACE !! AS WELL AS BEING THE WORST SANITARY WISE AS WELL.. GOOD LUCK TO EVERYONE WHO GOES THERE.. BRING YOUR ANTIBIOTICS !!!!
Sounds like an accident waiting to happen. The whole Zika virus — caused by dirty water and unsanitary rivers and streams — NOT a mosquito — should have been enough to cancel the plans to begin with. I do not have good feelings about any of this.
Justin W says
Anytime a country wins the right to host an Olympics leaders in the country should insist on receiving regular updates about the status of the preparations. They should conduct regular inspections to make sure the status reports are accurate. Between the pollution and Zika issues I would not want to go the Rio. Those who do attend the games may leave Brazil with a lot more than they bargained for.
Dan H says
I am so sick of persons with a second grade reading ability writing articles and getting paid for the trash they spew out. For example:
“Chiller and Australian team spokesman Mike Tancred described a wide array of plumbing, electrical and cleaning issues at the Village. Tancred said only 10 of the 31 buildings were determined to be inhabitable.” Can anyone tell me what’s wrong with this sentence? Or is it the editors who are missing the boat?
This is what happens when you want to throw a 1st world even in a third world country. they have no clue on how to step up to the plate- if they did they wouldn’t have a 3rd world country. Stupid human tricks again.
Dianne Duke says
The US doesn’t have the money to host the Olympics either but our leaders will just print more money. Maybe we should not say to much about third world countries since we are well on the path to becoming one. Let the Democrates stay in office a while longer and your children and grandchildren will not even know a life as good as the one we know. I want much better for my children and grandchildren. Again, PRAY before you vote.