Australia hails quick fix of problems in athletes' village

Mon Jul 25, 2016 10:12pm EDT
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By Daniel Flynn

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Australia's Olympic delegation in Rio de Janeiro said on Monday that organizers had made "fantastic" progress in fixing problems with unfinished housing, although officials admitted that only two-thirds of the buildings had passed full safety checks.

Organizers for South America's first Olympic Games built 31 17-story buildings, but only 12 had been given the green light by Monday morning while another eight were in the process of receiving a full safety certification, Rio2016 spokesman Mario Andrada told Reuters.

"Twenty will be ready by today and 31 should be ready by Thursday," Andrada said, a full eight days before the opening ceremony.

The admission came a day after Australia's delegation said it would not move into the Olympic Village because it was "not safe or ready," citing deficiencies like "blocked toilets, leaking pipes and exposed wiring."

The litany of grievances from Australia, which moved members of its delegation into nearby hotels, revived concern over Brazil's readiness to host a major sporting event in the midst of its worst recession in decades and a deep political crisis.

New Zealand and Italy's delegations both said they had been forced to fix problems with electricity and plumbing, while Argentina said on Monday it had reserved accommodation outside the village for part of its delegation.

The Dutch team said their own staff had resolved many of the issues that beset their building, but they threatened to seek financial compensation for their work.

"We will evaluate this situation with IOC and Rio 2016 after the Games," Chief of Mission Maurits Hendriks, said in a statement issued on Sunday night. "This applies, for example, to financial consequences as a result of the measures we are taking and have been taken."   Continued...

Kitty Chiller (R), Chef de Mission for Australia at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, leads a news conference with boxer Daniel Lewis in which she described the problems that her country's delegation encountered with the athletes' housing in Rio de Janeiro, July 25, 2016. REUTERS/Rickey Rogers