Exactly one week ahead of the Opening Ceremony, Rio Olympic officials said on Thursday that the shoddy conditions at the Olympic Village may be the result of isolated instances of worker sabotage.
“We are considering isolated cases, but we haven’t seen enough to say it was an organised sabotage thing,” Rio spokesman Mario Andrada said on Thursday, according to ESPN.
Last weekend, as athletes and team officials first started to move into the village, they were greeted by power outages, flooding, clogged toilets, no toilet bowls, and, in one circumstance, a small fire. Members of Team USA have been complaining over social media about the lack of outlets in their rooms.
The Australian delegation promptly moved out, calling the village uninhabitable. At least six other countries reportedly lodged complaints.
According to Andrada, approximately 400 of the 3,600 rooms in the sprawling 31 building complex had problems. While some sabotage on the part of workers may explain it, more than anything else, Andrada cited organizational dysfunction.
Now, Olympic officials are scrambling to put the final touches on the village in time for the massive swell of athletes in the coming days. As of Thursday, Andrada said 1,129 athletes and 2,449 staff members were staying in the village. A total of 18,000 people are expected stay on site over the course of the games.
In light of the problems, Andrada said 650 electricians and plumbers were brought in to patch things up. He called it a “mad scramble.”
“Imagine, this was on a weekend in Rio,” he said. “We called literally all the constructions companies. We literally called every plumber in town.”
He added: “One US official told me the workers were unprepared, working with water on the floor, working with electricity and wearing no protection; wearing flip-flops,” Andrada said. “But that’s how we live here. Guys work with flip-flops. But the guys are technicians and know how to work.”
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