Australia refuses to move into athlete’s village in Rio

Australian delegation says the Olympic Village in Rio has a variety of problems including blocked toilets, leaking pipes and exposed wiring.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Banners marking the Australian athletes accommodation hang outside the 2016 Rio Olympics Village in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 23, 2016. (Reuters)

The Australian Olympic team announced on Sunday that Australian athletes will not move into the Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro due to lack of sanitation and safety.

The team chief Kitty Chiller said the village has many problems including blocked toilets, leaking pipes, exposed wiring, dark stairwells where no lighting has been installed and dirty floors..

"We were due to move into the village on July 21 but we have been living in nearby hotels, because the village is simply not safe or ready," she said in a statement.

"Due to a variety of problems in the village, including gas, electricity and plumbing I have decided that no Australian Team member will move into our allocated building," Chiller added.

Beds stand ready in the bedroom of an apartment of the Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, July 23, 2016.

The Australian team chief noted that extra maintenance staff and more than 1,000 cleaners have been hired to fix the problems, but couldn't manage to resolve the faults, particularly the plumbing issues.

She said the team did a “stress test” on Saturday to see if the system could cope once the athletes moved in, during the test, taps and toilets were simultaneously turned on in apartments on several floors.

"The system failed. Water came down walls, there was a strong smell of gas in some apartments and there was 'shorting' in the electrical wiring," Chiller stated.

Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes points to a screen showing Olympic Park, at the Olympic City Museum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tuesday, July 5, 2016. (AP Archive)

Australia’s criticisms were immediately dismissed by Rio de Janeiro Mayor, Eduardo Paes.

The mayor shot back at the criticism by saying that the Brazilian Olympic Village is better than the one that Australia built for Sydney 2000.

Furthermore, he joked that he would put a kangaroo outside the Australian accommodation “to make Australians feel at home.”

The Olympic Village stands ready in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, July 23, 2016. (AP)

The Olympic Village located in the Barra da Tijuca district in the west of Rio de Janeiro consists of 31 buildings. The complex is designed to house about 17,200 athletes and team officials during the the Games.

According to the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, the Swedish women’s soccer team also refused to move into its accommodation due to similar problems. Moreover, the US, Italy and Netherlands has paid to hire workers to finish their apartments.

Australian officials claimed that the British and New Zealand delegations are also facing the same problems.

A spokesperson for the British delegation confirmed similar problems but noted that it is not uncommon with new-build structures of this type.

The New Zealand delegation chief Rob Waddell stated that the complex was not completed when he arrived last week. However, the issues have been resolved and athletes are beginning to move into their apartments, he added.

TRTWorld and agencies