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Athletes are pissed about clogged toilets at Rio's Olympic Village

With just 11 days to go before the Games start, others complaints include leaking pipes, exposed wiring, and dirty floors.
Foto di Leo Correa/AP Photo

With the world's athletes arriving in Rio in preparation for the Olympic Games — which are now just 11 days away — several teams are complaining bitterly about the state of the Olympic Village.

"Problems include blocked toilets, leaking pipes, exposed wiring, darkened stairwells where no lighting has been installed, and dirty floors," Kitty Chiller, chief of the Australian team, said in a statement on Sunday. "The Village is simply not safe or ready."


Chiller said that the Australian team will be living in nearby hotels until the problems are fixed.

The Village, called Ilha Pura or Pure Island, is supposed to house more than 18,000 athletes, officials, and staff during the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The plan is to turn it into an exclusive residential complex of luxury apartments after the medals have all been hung around the winners' necks.

Chiller's comments on the current state of the 31 towers in the Village did not go down well with Rio's mayor, Eduardo Paes

"We are going to make the Australians feel at home here, I'm on the point of putting a kangaroo out front to jump for them," the mayor told reporters on Sunday.

Paes also insisted that the 17-story buildings were "more beautiful and better" than those that housed athletes in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

"We don't want kangaroos," Mike Tancred, head of communications for the Australian Olympic Committee shot back. "What we need are plumbers to fix the many problems we found in the apartments."

Other teams like the US, British, and Italian have also complained.

"We have had to hire laborers, electricians, plumbers, and bricklayers over the last few days so that the athletes' accommodation can be brought up to normal conditions as soon as possible," the Italian mission chief Carlo Mornati said in a statement also released on Sunday.

The International Olympic Committee and the organizing committee responded to the bubbling discontent with a statement promising to house athletes with unfinished rooms in "the best available" accommodation in other buildings. It added that fixing the problems "will take another few days."


The controversy over the Village adds to the litany of problems facing Rio's Olympics that range from corruption allegations related to the infrastructure built for the Games, to the trickle of athletes staying away for fear of being infected with the Zika virus.

Last week the authorities arrested a cell of alleged Islamic State sympathizers in the early stages of planning a terrorist attack.

Meanwhile, the Games have also brought renewed attention to the city's long-standing security problems that range from rampant rates of common crime to the large numbers of people killed by police officers.

According to the Rio Olympic Games' website, the Village will be the facility with the highest security in the Games that are due to be guarded by 85,000 police officers and soldiers.

Right now, however, there is more focus on whether the toilets flush.

The heads of the teams already present in Rio and members of the Organizer Committee are due to meet on Monday to talk about how best to solve such problems.

"For the Games to be successful, you need to get 3 things right," Chiller said in her statement on Sunday. "The athletes' Village, the transport, and the food."

Related: Most Brazilians think the Olympics are not worth it, a poll shows

Follow Alan Hernández on Twitter: @alanpasten