Here's to roo too as Aussies move in

General view of rooms for Australia at Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on July 26.
General view of rooms for Australia at Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on July 26. PHOTO: EPA

RIO DE JANEIRO • Australia's Olympic delegation, who refused to move into their Rio apartments due to a spate of problems, took a dig at the city's top official on Tuesday by arriving at the complex with a kangaroo in tow.

After the delegation complained of blocked toilets and leaky pipes over the weekend, Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes, who has repeatedly found himself on the defensive over Olympic conditions, quipped that he should perhaps put "a kangaroo in front of their building to make them feel at home".

The issues delayed the country's athletes from taking up lodging in the brand-new Olympic Village complex at its official opening on Sunday.

On Tuesday, as the country's hockey teams, archers, gymnasts and shooters finally moved in, they were greeted not only by a kangaroo, but an emu to boot.

Mike Tancred, media director for the Australian Olympics team, said the statues had nothing to do with the housing controversy.

"We had the kangaroo and the emu out front of our building in London in 2012 and we have brought them here. The animals are on our crest. They are national symbols," he said.

Australia's delegation took issue with the poor state of the Olympic Village, the 31-building complex located in the Barra da Tijuca district in the west of Rio de Janeiro designed to house more than 18,000 athletes and coaching staff over the coming weeks.

Rio's Olympic organisers said such teething problems plagued all Games editions and promised that "adjustments" would be made to resolve the problems.

By Tuesday, Tancred reported that there were "still three plumbing issues in three different rooms", but that the remaining main challenge was cleaning.

"We are progressing. The village is fantastic," he said.

The lack of preparedness in the Olympic Village has been an embarrassing blow for Brazil, with the country struggling to show that all will be well with the Games, which has been hit by fears over the Zika virus.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2016, with the headline 'Here's to roo too as Aussies move in'. Print Edition | Subscribe