Ready or not, the Rio Olympics are opening their doors.
The Games begin in a little more than two weeks, but the Athletes Village opened officially Sunday, meaning 10,500 athletes and 7,000 staff members started moving into the luxurious layout, with the pace picking up daily until the August 5 Opening Ceremonies at the Maracana Stadium.
The 31-building compound was designed pamper the world’s best. It’s set among tennis courts, soccer fields, seven swimming pools and topped off by a massive dining-kitchen compound that’s as large as three football fields.
But it wasn’t all thumbs-up on move-in weekend.
Australia’s Olympic team, complaining about uninhabitable rooms, refused to check in. Kitty Chiller, the head of the country’s delegation, complained of “blocked toilets, leaking pipes and exposed wiring.”
Mario Andrada, a spokesman for the local organizing committee, on Sunday said organizers are aware of the problems with some rooms, particularly affecting teams from Australia, New Zealand and Brazil.
“There are some electrical issues and some leaks,” he said, noting that a team of about 500 workers is currently addressing the problems. “It’s one of those things with new buildings, but it should not have happened.”
New Zealand Chef de Mission Rob Waddell said, however, he was happy with the accommodations, even if the advance team had needed to work with organizers to get it up to standard.
Waddell and his 10-strong advance party arrived in Rio last week and also found plumbing and electrical issues, but managed to fix them in time.
“We were disappointed the village wasn’t as ready as it might have been when we arrived and it hasn’t been easy,” the Sydney Olympics rowing champion said.
“Our team has had to get stuck in to get the job done.
Other teams moved into the village without comment on the conditions. They hung banners or flags off the sides of buildings.
Slovenia had the best banner. In green and white it says: “I Feel sLOVEenia.” The LOVE portion was set off in white type, making sure the message got across.
Another read: “All for Denmark.”
Banners or flags from Canada, Britain, Portugal, Finland and Sweden were among those spotted. A tiny red and yellow Chinese flag was pinned near the top of one of the compounds.
Everything about the village is massive though fairly standard for recent Summer Olympics.
Organizers say the compound has 10,160 rooms, 18,000 beds, seven laundries, an enormous clinic and a massive gym.
Then there’s the dining-kitchen area, a sprawling tent where officials expect to serve about 60,000 meals daily to Olympians and staff — and perhaps 10,000 more daily to workers. Food is available 24 hours a day.
“The hardest part is knowing how much to prepare,” said Flavia Albuquerque, who oversees Rio’s food and beverage service. “We want them to eat anything they want to.”
That will be easy. The choices are nearly infinite. Diners will choose from buffets — Brazilian, Asian, international, pasta and pizza, and food fitting Jewish and Muslim dietary laws. Then there’s a casual dining area that will feature barbecue.
“The casual area might be the most popular,” Albuquerque said.
There will be several million dirty plates, but none to wash. Instead, the plates — made from corn and sugarcane — will provide a feast for microorganisms.