RIO DE JANEIRO — The Summer Olympics are just days from opening, and organizers have been forced to mount a “massive operation” to fix a deluge of plumbing and electricity problems at the Athletes’ Village in Rio.
It was the latest upset for an Olympics taking place amid a severe economic recession, a Zika epidemic, the impeachment process of suspended president Dilma Rousseff and a spike in crime in Rio state — which is so broke it needed a government bailout to pay police salaries in arrears.
The latest crisis began on Sunday, when the Australian team said its building in the Athletes’ Village was uninhabitable because of problems with plumbing and electricity.
Now, with those issues resolved, the Australians have moved in. But other teams have complained about conditions in many of their apartments. The Argentine committee said that two of the five floors of its building were uninhabitable, and it had to rent apartments nearby for some of its technical staff. The Belarus Olympic committee published photos of dirty windows and blocked drains on its official page. Egyptian athletes had no hot water and their toilets did not flush, while a Kenyan wrote “Please fix my toilet” on a notice board in the Olympic Village.
A squad of 600 plumbers and electricians has been scrambling to repair everything.
“It is a massive operation and a massive undertaking to fix everything in such a way that we don’t disturb the athletes and we don’t compromise the security,” Mario Andrada, Rio 2016’s communications director, told The Washington Post. The operation was on course to finish by Thursday night, he said.
But even that operation has run into trouble.
On Wednesday, officials from Brazil’s Ministry of Work inspected laborers’ conditions and found the emergency team had been contracted informally, without the proper documentation. Fines could be levied if the subcontractors who hired the workers don’t produce the necessary documents, the ministry said in a statement published on its website.
(The Washington Post)