On eve of Games, buildings still not ready

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On eve of Games, buildings still not ready

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Although the opening ceremony for the 2016 Summer Olympics is only four days away, some facilities in Rio de Janeiro are still under construction, amplifying concerns for an event that has already been embroiled in controversies including political turmoil and environmental issues. [JOINT PRESS CORPS, JOONGANG PHOTO]

The 2016 Summer Games open in just four days, but concerns remain about the structural soundness of facilities and the preparedness of the Rio Organizing Committee as athletes move into their residences only to discover various safety issues unresolved and some construction still ongoing.

When Korean shooter Kim Jun-hong first turned on the sink in his room at the athletes’ village upon his arrival on Friday, he was surprised to see rusty water coming out of the faucet. “Red water came out for a while,” Kim said.

Just a few days earlier, the Australian team had refused to move into their living quarters in the village, saying it was “unlivable” because of issues with plumbing and electricity. Members of the delegation also said they smelled gas leaking inside the building.

As late as last week, the Rio organizing body has acknowledged many of the buildings in the athletes’ village have yet to pass safety tests. Despite the concerns, many athletes have already moved into the buildings.

“I have attended three different Olympics in the past, but this year’s residential facilities are by far the worst,” said Lee Bae-young, who won silver at the 2004 Summer Games in Athens and now coaches the Korean weightlifting team. “There aren’t amenities inside the room that we can use, and the macaroni and cheese they served at the restaurant was not fully cooked.”

The problems in the athletes’ village are just the tip of the iceberg. On Saturday, the main ramp at Marina da Gloria, where the sailing events will be taking place, partially collapsed.

Philip Wilkinson, a spokesman for the organizing committee, blamed high tides and stormy seas for the collapse, according to NBC Sports, and said that repairs will be completed in four days.

The partial collapse of the ramp especially raises concern because it is not the first time that newly-built infrastructure has been damaged in preparation for the Games. In April, an elevated bike path on the coastline of Rio collapsed after being struck by a wave, killing two people.

Some sports facilities still seem to be undergoing construction. Over the weekend, a JoongAng Ilbo correspondent in Rio reported hearing construction noises when walking past the Olympic Aquatics Stadium, the venue designated for swimming events. Construction workers were also seen working on the pedestrian overpass connecting the athletes’ village and stadiums.

BY CHOI HYUNG-JO [choi.hyungjo@joongang.co.kr]
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