As the first batch of Australia Olympic athletes attempted to move into their rooms at the Athlete’s Village in Rio de Janeiro, host of the 2016 Games, they were met with a series of structural and functional problems.
The Village, whose 31 buildings containing more than 3600 apartments will be called home to 15,000 athletes and officials during the Olympic Games, officially opened on July 15th. According to a statement released today by Kitty Chiller, Australia’s Chef de Mission, the Aussies were due to move into the Village on July 21st, but have been living in nearby hotels, ‘because the Village is simply not safe or ready.’
Along with plumbing problems, the Aussie team is reporting electrical and cleaning issues, as well as ‘a strong smell of gas in some apartments.’ Britain and New Zealand are also reportedly having similar issues, which have now been occurring for at least a week.
In Chiller’s statement, she said her team has ‘raised our concerns on a daily basis with the Organizing Committee and the IOC’ and have been ‘pushing hard for a solution.’ Chiller states that ‘extra maintenance staff and over one thousand cleaners have been engaged to fix the problems and clean the Village but the faults, particularly the plumbing issues have not been resolved.’
“There is much work to be done at the Village,” Chiller’s announcement reads.
Below is Kitty Chiller’s official statement in its entirety:
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 (B23).
I will reassess the situation this evening.
For over a week now AOC staff have been working long hours to get our section of the Village ready for our athletes.
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.
We have raised our concerns on a daily basis with the Organising Committee and the IOC, especially at the daily Chef’s meeting.
We are not alone, our friends from Team GB, New Zealand and others are experiencing the same problems in their accommodation.
We have been pushing hard for a solution.
Extra maintenance staff and over one thousand cleaners have been engaged to fix the problems and clean the Village but the faults, particularly the plumbing issues have not been resolved.
Last night (Saturday), we decided to do a “stress test” where taps and toilets were simultaneously turned on in apartments on several floors to see if the system could cope once the athletes are in-house.
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.
We were due to move into the Village on 21 July but we have been living in nearby hotels, because the Village is simply not safe or ready.
Our staff are continuing to setup as best they can for the arrival of the athletes. For those athletes arriving in the next three days we have made alternative accommodation arrangements.
We welcome a decision by the IOC to recommend to the Organising Committee that stress tests be carried out throughout the Olympic Village.
The IOC has recommended 1. A plumbing stress test and 2. A fire safety test.
Those tests will include all floors, all rooms, all fixtures, sinks, showers and toilets. As well as fire alarms, lighting in stairwells and exits.
Representatives from National Olympic Committees (NOCs) have been invited to observe the test.
From an AOC point of view, John Coates, has always stressed that for a Games to be successful, you need to get 3 things right, the athlete’s Village, the transport and the food.
There is much work to be done at the Village and we appreciate the efforts of the IOC and the RIO Organising Committee to “push things along” and solve the problems.