Rio de Janeiro: Australian Olympic team members were forced to evacuate their lodgings at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics after a small fire in a basement parking area caused smoke to fill the stairwells.
Australian team spokesman Mike Tancred said about 100 athletes and officials were evacuated from their building in the sprawling athletes’ village. The compound contains 31 buildings and will accommodate 18,000 athletes and officials at the peak of the games, which open in a week.
“The stairwells filled with smoke, but the fire was confined to the carpark and no one was injured,” Tancred said in a statement.
The fire will once again draw attention to Rio’s spotty preparations, which have been marred by the Zika virus, severe water pollution, crime, and slow ticket sales. Tancred said team members returned to their rooms after 30 minutes.
This comes after a tension-filled week in which Australia refused to occupy its building, citing gas and plumbing leaks, electrical shorts, and general filth. At least a dozen other teams also complained of problems that affected about 400 of the 3,600 rooms in the sprawling compound.
Rio officials on Thursday declared the compound “fully ready” after deploying hundreds of plumbers and electricians, who worked around the clock to ready the buildings.
Australia finally moved staff and athletes into the village on Wednesday, three days after the official opening on Sunday.
Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes on Wednesday met Australian delegation head Kitty Chiller and apologized to dozens of athletes for the slipshod preparations.