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Río 2016 organizers admit Olympic Village still not ready

Some 15 apartment blocks are still not ready for athletes 10 days ahead of opening

Vinícius, the Games' mascot, at the entrance to the Olympic Village.
Vinícius, the Games' mascot, at the entrance to the Olympic Village. EFE

With just 10 days to go before the opening of the Olympics, the Rio 2016 organizing committee admitted on Tuesday there were still 15 unfinished buildings in the Olympic Village.

Rodrigo Tostes, the executive director of operations for Rio 2016, told Brazilian leading daily Folha de Sao Paulo that five of the blocks used to house athletes would be finished today. Among them the Australian team, which on Sunday said that it wouldn’t be staying in the official accommodation, saying it was in poor condition. Tostes said the Australians had since agreed to move in to their apartments in the Olympic Village on Wednesday.

Around 10% of the expected 10,000 competitors have already arrived in Brazil, and have moved in to the village, but some athletes have complained of poor conditions, including damaging from flooding, elevators that don’t work and mold on walls and ceilings.

Stress tests due for completion at the beginning of the year, have not been carried out on more than half of the apartment blocks

The remaining 10 buildings will be finished on Thursday, said Tostes. “There are problems at the start of every Games due to the large number of people who arrive. This has happened in other places. We are working on this and will sort it out quickly. We see problems and we clear them up,” he said.

Stress tests due for completion at the beginning of the year, have not been carried out on more than half of the apartment blocks, which were delivered behind schedule. In many cases, utilities have only been recently connected.

On Monday, Japanese athletes complained about problems with their accommodation, alleging that bathrooms were blocked and bedrooms dirty.

By the opening ceremony on 5 August, the majority of competitors are supposed to have moved into the village, which Rio 2016 says is the biggest ever at an Olympics. But Brazil’s financial downturn and a corruption scandal have caused delays.

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The project, which has cost almost $1 billion was carried out by local property developer Carvalho Hosken and Brazil’s biggest construction firm, Odebrecht. They hoped to recover their investment by selling the apartments, until the property market started to fall as Brazil’s economy went into decline. As a result, corners were cut on the final stages of work on the buildings. At the same time, Odebrecht’s president was caught up in the Lava Jato corruption scandal and has been sentenced to 19 years in jail.

English version by Nick Lyne.

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