Olympics: Australians stay away from Village because of blocked toilets, exposed wiring

The Australian Olympic team refuses to move in to Rio de Janeiro's village for athletes, saying the accommodation is 'not safe or ready' ahead of next month's games.
One of the apartment blocks where Australian athletes are supposed to stay in the Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro.
One of the apartment blocks where Australian athletes are supposed to stay in the Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro.PHOTO: REUTERS

RIO DE JANEIRO (REUTERS) - The Australian team will not move into the Olympic Village for next month's Rio de Janeiro Games because of problems including "blocked toilets, leaking pipes and exposed wiring", the head of the country's delegation Kitty Chiller said on Sunday.

The first Australian athletes to arrive in Rio were scheduled to move into the Village on July 21 but have instead been living in nearby hotels. The Games start on Aug 5.

Chiller said 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 massive clean.

Rio 2016 organisers did not respond to requests for comment but one official told Reuters they were aware of problems and were working to resolve them.

"There are lights, beds, air conditioning, but we still lack a few details," the source said on condition of anonymity. "There really are last-minute details to finish but it will be done this week."

Chiller, who will reassess the situation later on Sunday, said she had raised concerns on a daily basis with the organisers and the International Olympic Committee, and was "pushing hard for a solution".

Australia is bringing 401 athletes to Brazil, the same number as London in 2012. The team finished eighth in the overall medals table four years ago.

Extra maintenance staff and more than 1,000 cleaners have been engaged to fix the problems and clean the Village, Chiller said, but the faults, particularly the plumbing issues, have not been resolved.

Such issues are not uncommon in Brazil where narrow pipes and poor plumbing mean residents throw toilet paper in bins rather than flush it away.

Australian team staff are continuing to set up as best they can for the arrival of athletes and for those coming in the next three days alternative accommodation has been arranged.