The Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro flunked a stress test conducted by the Australian Olympic Committee, which found uninhabitable conditions and was left scrambling to find other quarters for its first athletes to arrive in Brazil.
The AOC encountered plumbing and electrical issues that included “blocked toilets, leaking pipes, exposed wiring, darkened stairwells where no lighting has been installed and dirty floors in need of a massive clean.”
And the committee offered even more sobering details.
“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,” Kitty Chiller, the AOC’s chef de mission, said in a statement published in the Sydney Morning Herald. “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.”
Chiller added that Great Britain and New Zealand encountered similar problems Saturday night, and the Herald reported that the Rio organizing committee has sent in workers. Chiller added that the AOC welcomed a decision by the International Olympic Committee to carry out stress tests throughout the village on fire alarms and plumbing.
“There are lights, beds, air conditioning, but we still lack a few details,” an unnamed official told Reuters. “There really are last-minute details to finish, but it will be done this week.”
In the meantime, the first of Australia’s 401 Olympic athletes — boxers and canoeists — were scheduled to move into the village Sunday and arrangements were being made to house them elsewhere. AOC staff is working from a hotel.
Every Olympics, these sorts of headlines crop up and, every time, the Olympics manage to go on as scheduled, so Rio and the IOC may not be in an unusual position with the Games bearing down. Two years ago, Sochi made headlines when journalists arrived for the Winter Games and began tweeting about the conditions of their quarters, which included undrinkable water, no heat and the presence of stray dogs.
And bobsledder Johnny Quinn became the first social media darling of those games when he became trapped in a bathroom and busted out — literally — through a door.
As for Rio, Chiller noted that, although “there is much work to be done,” the AOC appreciated the efforts of the IOC and Rio organizing committee to “push things along.”
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Cindy Boren