Australians stay away from Village citing blocked toilets, exposed wiring

Mon Jul 25, 2016 1:53pm EDT
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RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - The Australian Olympic team refused to move in to Rio de Janeiro's village for athletes on Sunday, saying the accommodation was "not safe or ready" for next month's games.

"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," delegation head Kitty Chiller said on Sunday.

It is the first time the Olympics have been held in South America. Chiller cited problems including "blocked toilets, leaking pipes and exposed wiring." Some Village apartments had water running down the walls and "a strong smell of gas," while stairwells were unlit and floors were in need of a thorough clean, she said.

The first Australian athletes to arrive in Rio were due to move into the Village on July 21 but have instead been living in nearby hotels.

"We will stick to our plan of no athletes staying in the Village for next 2 days," Chiller said later on Sunday.

"I am reasonably confident we will be able to enter the Village on Wednesday."

Australia, which finished eighth in the medals table four years ago, is to bring 410 athletes for the games which start on Aug. 5. Rio de Janeiro officials referred to "teething troubles" and promised that crews "will be working 24 hours a day until the issues are resolved."

"Athletes that are arriving in the Village and whose accommodation is not finished will be placed in the best available accommodation in other buildings," said a statement from organizers.

"We will be working hard to ensure that the ongoing works do not disturb their preparations for the Games – preparations that will be taking place in fully checked, top quality training venues. We regret any inconvenience that this may cause and we greatly appreciate the understanding of the National Olympic Committees at this time." Chiller said she had raised concerns on a daily basis with the organizers and the International Olympic Committee.   Continued...

A view of one of the blocks of apartments where Australian athletes competing in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games are supposed to stay in the Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 24, 2016. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares