And the committee offered even more sobering details.
“We decided to do a ‘stress test’ where taps and toilets were simultaneously turned on in apartments on several floors to see if the system could cope once the athletes are in-house,” Kitty Chiller, the AOC’s chef de mission, said in a statement published in the Sydney Morning Herald. “The system failed. Water came down walls, there was a strong smell of gas in some apartments and there was ‘shorting’ in the electrical wiring.”
Chiller added that Great Britain and New Zealand encountered similar problems Saturday night, and the Herald reported that the Rio organizing committee has sent in workers. Chiller added that the AOC welcomed a decision by the International Olympic Committee to carry out stress tests throughout the village on fire alarms and plumbing.
Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes responded flippantly Sunday, saying, “I almost feel like putting a kangaroo in front of their building to make them feel at home.”
Another official promised that “last-minute details” would be completed quickly.
“There are lights, beds, air conditioning, but we still lack a few details,” an unnamed official told Reuters. “There really are last-minute details to finish, but it will be done this week.”
An official for the Great Britain team said it had encountered only minor plumbing and electrical problems.
“We are confident that our accommodation is ready to receive athletes and will be to the highest standards within the Village,” Team GB communications director Scott Field told Reuters. “Whilst we have encountered some maintenance difficulties, this is not uncommon with new build structures of this type and we have been working hard to overcome them.”
In the meantime, the first of Australia’s 401 Olympic athletes — boxers and canoeists — were scheduled to move into the village Sunday and arrangements were being made to house them elsewhere. AOC staff is working from a hotel.
Every Olympics, these sorts of headlines crop up and, every time, the Olympics manage to go on as scheduled, so Rio and the IOC may not be in an unusual position with the Games bearing down. Two years ago, Sochi made headlines when journalists arrived for the Winter Games and began tweeting about the conditions of their quarters, which included undrinkable water, no heat and the presence of stray dogs.
And bobsledder Johnny Quinn became the first social media darling of those games when he became trapped in a bathroom and busted out — literally — through a door.
As for Rio, Chiller noted that, although “there is much work to be done,” the AOC appreciated the efforts of the IOC and Rio organizing committee to “push things along.”