Rio 2016: 7 things you wouldn’t believe about the Olympic accommodation

The 2016 Summer Olympic Games open tonight in Rio de Janeiro. Concerns such as the Zika virus have largely been put to one side as the country gets down to the fine tradition of celebrating the world’s best in sport, the tournament has found itself continuing another unwanted tradition: that of teething problems with its official accommodation.

Housing is always a difficult thing to get right for Olympic Games, with new build constructions racing to meet deadlines and finish to a high standard. That is just one part of a complex puzzle: there is also the issue of how to use Olympic buildings following the tournament, which can be a make or break decision for a host city. In Greece, the Athens stadium has been largely unused, despite the tournament costing around $15 billion. It took Montreal decades to pay off its hosting debt from 1976. In China, maintenance on Beijing’s iconic stadium currently costs $11 million a year.

London has proven more successful, using its Olympic Village accommodation as affordable housing and turning its Aquatics Centre into a council swimming pool and turning its central stadium into a football ground for West Ham United. Research from Lloyd Bank, meanwhile, shows that property values in areas surrounding the Olympic Park have increased by £1,500 per month since London won the bid in July 2005.

Russia’s Sochi Winter Olympics didn’t quite live up to the UK capital’s example, though, with the 2014 tournament seeing its hotels not ready for visitors, producing a string of entertaining tweets from surprised guests.

Rio 2016 officially opened its Olympic Village in Recreio dos Bandeirantes on Sunday 24th July, with 31 buildings and 3,604 apartments set to host up to 17,000 athletes and officials in the coming weeks. Close to Barra Olympic Park, the complex boasts leisure centres, cycle paths and a canteen serving up to 60,000 meals per day to 5,000 people at a time, but teething problems saw the accommodation receive the Sochi treatment on social media.

Here are seven things you wouldn’t believe about the Olympic accommodation.

1. Italy hired its own repairmen

The Wall Street Journal reported that the Italian Olympic delegation hired “its own electricians, plumbers and construction workers” to get the apartments “up to standard”, which others have since confirmed.


2. The Australians refused to stay

While Italy set to work repairing the place, Australia’s Olympic Committee flat out refused to stay, instead housing their athletes in nearby hotels until the problems were sorted.

“There are some adjustments that we are dealing with and that will be resolved in a short while,” Rio 2016 President Carlos Arthur Nuzman said. “Every Olympic Village, because of their magnitude, needs some adjustments until it becomes perfect. The important thing is that everything will be resolved before the Games, without disturbing the athletes.”

After several days of 600 people repairing the site, the Australians officially moved in.

“At first we had some problems but they were fixed and we’re happy with the place. The rooms are even bigger than in London [2012],” Mike Druce, Australia’s canoe coach, told The Telegraph on Tuesday.


3. Some had no shower curtains

Australian basketball player Andrew Bogut shared a picture of him threading hooks through a shower curtain, because his bathroom did not have one.

“Putting together a shower curtain so we can shower and not flood the place,” he joked, starting the popular hashtag #IOCLuxuryLodging on Twitter.

4. Others had no furniture

5. Some had a broken sink

The official Chinese delegation for Xinhau media revealed that they had a broken sink in their bathroom – and their own shower curtain problems…

6. Others had a hole in the ceiling

China’s table tennis players had a situation that tape wasn’t go to solve.

7. … and some hired a luxury yacht

The US basketball team decided to come up with their own Olympic accommodation instead: they hired a luxury yacht to live in.

The Silver Cloud is now moored in Rio’s harbour for both the men’s and women’s team to use as a base.


With the games officially opening this evening, though, the accommodation obstacles appear to have been overcome, with Australia’s Kitty Chiller acknowledging this week that “every village has teething problems”.

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and British Olympic Association (BOA) agreed that final adjustments are normal.

“As is the case with every Games, we’re working with the local organisers to address minor issues and make sure the village is ready for Team USA athletes,” USOC said in an official statement last week.

The BOA added: “We are confident that our accommodation is ready to receive athletes and will be to the highest standards within the village. Whilst we have encountered some maintenance difficulties this is not uncommon with new build structures of this type and we have been working hard to overcome them.”