- Silvia Izquierdo/AP
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 worker sabotage.
“We are considering isolated cases, but we haven’t seen enough to say it was an organized sabotage thing,” Rio spokesman Mario Andrada said on Thursday, according to ESPN.
As athletes and team officials first started to move into the village last weekend, they were greeted by power failures, 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 power 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, about 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, Andrada cited organizational dysfunction as the most likely cause.
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 already staying in the village. Eighteen thousand people are expected stay on-site during the games, which will be held August 5-21.
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.”