Just two weeks before the opening of the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, Australian Olympic Committee officials announced that they would not be moving into the athletes’ village on Sunday due to significant plumbing and electrical concerns.
The AOC chef de mission Kitty Chiller claimed that the facilities were uninhabitable and that Great Britain and New Zealand contingents concurred with her assessment.
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These events come in the face of multiple cancellations to the games by athletes who don’t want to risk contracting Zika virus infections, including golfers Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, and basketball superstar Chris Paul.
According to Chiller, the “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. In operations areas water has come through the ceiling resulting in large puddles on the floor around cabling and wiring.”
The decision not to move into the facilities was made on Saturday night when the Australian officials ran a “stress test” where water faucets and toilets were turned on simultaneously in the facility to see if the system could handle the presence of normal occupancy during the athlete’s stay.
The results: “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.”
The team is working on arrangements to provide the Australian contingency with alternate housing. “From what we’ve seen,” said an AOC spokesman, “you wouldn’t put people in there yet.”
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Rio organizing committee sent an emergency group of cleaners and repair staff to address the issues, but as of now offer no date when the problems would be fixed.
This is not the first time international sports venues have been criticized for being less than stellar living areas. In 2014 at the Sochi Olympics bathrooms hung signs telling residents not to flush their toilet paper and water taps spewed out yellow-colored liquid resembling urine.
At the Commonwealth games in Delhi, the athletes’ village was built on the banks of the Yamuna and serious monsoon flooding led to vast amounts of mosquitoes creating dengue fever scares.