Blocked toilets, dangerous wiring and other problems in Rio’s Olympic Village will be resolved by the end of the week, Brazilian organizers said Monday as new reports of glitches emerged.
A day after the Australian Olympic delegation refused to move into the apartment complex in western Rio, Brazilian organizing committee spokesman Mario Andrada promised a solution.
“We have 630 men working to fix the problems at the Olympic Village,” Andrada said in comments tweeted by the government’s Olympic account.
“They should complete the impeccable handover of the Village by the end of the week, probably by Thursday,” he said.
This indicated a longer timetable than suggested by the honorary mayor of the Village, former Brazilian Olympian Janeth Arcain, who said Sunday that the work would take only 48 hours.
However, 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 and rampant armed crime across Rio, Mayor Eduardo Paes has frequently found himself on the defensive.
Paes reacted to the Australian complaints on Sunday by quipping that he should perhaps put “a kangaroo in front of their building to make them feel at home.”
Earlier this month, he responded to one voter critical of Rio’s transformation by telling him to “move.”
– ‘Get stuck in’ –
Australia said Sunday it would delay taking up residence in the Village, a 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.
“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, Kitty Chiller, 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.”
Chiller later told reporters 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.”
“The workers that were with us today have been absolutely really good. They’ve been working very hard, they’re very skilled and we’re very, very happy with the progress, so looking like according to our plan, we will be able to move everybody on Wednesday,” she said.
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.
“Our team has had to get stuck in to get the job done,” a statement said. – Agence France-Presse