PH athletes arrive to poor accommodations in Rio Olympic Village

Rick Olivares

Posted at Jul 25 2016 04:55 PM

General view of athletes' accommodation can be seen during a guided tour for journalists to the 2016 Rio Olympics Village in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 23, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

The Philippine delegation to the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics arrived at the Olympic Village in Barra Da Tijuca in the early evening of Sunday.

The Filipinos joined fellow delegates from Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Uganda for the one-hour bus ride from the Rio De Janeiro-Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport.

Composed of Chef de mission Jose Romasanta, Philippine Olympic Committee security officer Col. Jeff Tamayo, team physician Dr. Ferdinand Brawner and the athletes and their coaches, the Philippine contingent made their way to the 11th floor of Building 2 of the Athletes Village.

To their surprise and consternation, the sleeping units suffered from obvious poor construction.

“The village looks nice as expected,” said swimming coach Archie Lim of the quarters. “But it isn’t as good as some of the previous athlete’s villages we’ve stayed in. The rooms are pretty small, some parts of the condo are unfinished, and we have no cold water."

The Olympic Village is designed to house 17,950 people in 3,604 flats spread across 31 buildings.

"Of course, we’ve only been here for a few hours and we’re all very tired so it it is too early to really comment. The rooms are pretty small, some parts of the condominium are unfinished. We haven’t any cold water but nothing really bad and the volunteers have been very nice and accommodating,” Lim said.

According to Romasanta, “many units have leaking pipes and low water pressure making it a problem for those staying in the higher floors. And beds are too small and not very comfortable."

Beds are seen inside the athletes' accommodation during a guided tour for journalists to the 2016 Rio Olympics Village in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 23, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Romasanta added that the quarters issue will certainly be brought up during Monday's delegations registration meeting and the congregation of all the chef de missions of the 206 participating countries.

“The organizers will hear it from some delegates,” he said with utmost certainty while unable to hide his disappointment.

The Australian delegation arrived Saturday evening ahead of all the other delegations and quickly voiced out their displeasure.

"For over a week now, the Australian Olympic Committee staff have been working long hours to get our section of the village ready for our athletes,” Australian chef de mission Kitty Chiller said in a statement that was released to media Saturday evening.

"Problems include blocked toilets, leaking pipes, exposed wiring, darkened stairwells where no lighting has been installed and dirty floors in need of a massive clean. In operations areas water has come through the ceiling resulting in large puddles on the floor around cabling and wiring."

Chiller said the situation came to a head on Saturday night (Brazil time).

"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," Chiller said.

"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."

The one upside has been the security that Romasanta was grateful for. “Thank God that security is very good,” said the Filipino sports official. "You can see their presence from the airport to the main roads. Military personnel in fatigue uniforms and heavily armed secure the main streets."

There is very strong police visibility days before the August 5 opening of the Summer Games, which is facing security threats, peace and order problems and the dreaded Zika virus.

Despite jetlag, the Filipino athletes are expected to break sweat on Monday, their first full day in this city of around six million.

The rest of the Filipino qualifiers will arrive in Rio in the coming days. They are boxers Rogen Ladon and Charly Suarez, who are training in the United States; runner Eric Cray, who is in Houston; swimmer Jasmine Alkhaldi, who is flying in from Hawaii; marathoner Mary Joy Tabal, who is still in Japan; and golfer Miguel Tabuena, who is still competing this week in the King’s Cup in Thailand.