RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Two days after describing the housing at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics as “dangerous,” Australian athletes and staff started moving into the massive athletes’ village compound on Tuesday.
Australia team spokesman Mike Tancred said up to 60 delegation members — evenly split between athletes and staff — were checking in.
“All we need now is just a bit of plumbing done in three rooms, and some cleaning and our athletes will be moving in tonight,” Tancred said, standing outside the village’s arrival gate.
Australians declined to enter their rooms on Sunday after flushed toilets and open taps caused water to gush down walls and ceilings in the building. They also complained of electrical shorts and gas leaks.
Rio organizers said Tuesday that 21 of 31 buildings were ready, occupied by 600 athletes and 1,800 staff from 120 countries. Organizers said all the buildings would be ready Thursday, barely a week before the games open.
The village will accommodate about 18,000 athletes and staff with a dining room serving 60,000 meals daily.
After criticizing the conditions, Australia has spent two days trying to befriend Brazilians.
“It was nothing ever against the Brazilian people,” Tancred said. “It was just a matter that we had to make sure it was all safe for our athletes. But it’s a fantastic village, and we’ve always said that.”
The head of Australia’s delegation Killy Chiller said the team complained publicly after working behind the scenes with teams that also had problems. She listed seven other delegations: Britain, New Zealand, Germany, Belgium, Brazil, Japan and the Netherlands.
Argentina and Belarus have also complained openly about the conditions.
Gerardo Werthein, the president of the Argentina Olympic committee, said on Monday that two of five floors in his building were uninhabitable.
“Ours is one of the most affected buildings, as is the Australia one,” Werthein said.
Tancred said Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes would hand the team an official key on Wednesday. Paes harshly criticized Australia, then backed down and said their building was one of the worst prepared in the village.
He sarcastically said he was tempted to put “a kangaroo jumping outside” the Australians’ building to make them happy.
As it turns out, the mayor will be getting his own gift.
“We’re going to give him the boxing kangaroo as a gift,” Tancred said.
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