The Australian team will not be moving into Olympic Village for the time being because of problems including “blocked toilets, leaking pipes and exposed wiring” less than two weeks ahead of the Rio Games.
Chef de mission Kitty Chiller, who said she would reassess the situation later, said she had raised concerns on a daily basis with the organisers and the International Olympic Committee, and was “pushing hard for a solution”.
“Last night [Saturday], 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.”
Chiller said the British and New Zealand Olympic teams were experiencing similar problems with their accommodation.
But officials from Team Great Britain distanced themselves from the complaints.
An advance team from the UK has been in Rio for days but said it found only minor problems with plumbing and electrics.
“We are confident that our accommodation is ready to receive athletes and will be to the highest standards within the Village,” Team GB communications director Scott Field said.
“Whilst we have encountered some maintenance difficulties, this is not uncommon with new built structures of this type and we have been working hard to overcome them.”
Extra maintenance staff and more than 1,000 cleaners have been engaged to fix the problems and clean the Village, Chiller said, but the faults, particularly the plumbing issues, have not been resolved.
Chiller said she would reassess the situation at the Village after further tests on plumbing and fire safety, but cautioned that “there is much work to be done”.
We were due to move into the Village on 21 July but we have been living in nearby hotels, because the Village is simply not safe or ready.
The Australian complaints follow local media reports that some team delegations, concerned over similar issues, had sought to hire their own maintenance crews in order to make quarters suitable.
Chiller said Australian team staff are continuing to set up as best they can for the arrival of athletes and that for those coming in the next three days alternative accommodation had been arranged.
Rio 2016 organisers did not respond to requests for comment, but one official told Reuters they were aware of problems and were working to resolve them.
“There are lights, beds, air conditioning, but we still lack a few details,” the source said on condition of anonymity.
“There really are last-minute details to finish but it will be done this week.”
The Olympic Village, a 31-building complex located in the Barra da Tijuca district in the west of Rio de Janeiro, is meant to house more than 18,000 athletes and coaching staff over the coming weeks.