Team SA at home in Rio

Sas­coc praises ath­letes’ ac­com­mo­da­tion and fa­cil­i­ties

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - SAMEER NAIK

WHILE the Aus­tralian Olympic squad has been com­plain­ing about the state of the ath­letes’ vil­lage in Rio de Janeiro all week, Team South Africa has given the fa­cil­ity two thumbs up.

Ath­letes who ar­rived in Rio on Sun­day af­ter a long flight have said they have lit­tle to moan about.

The new apart­ment tow­ers built to house 11 000 ath­letes and 6 000 coaches opened their doors two weeks ago.

How­ever, the day the vil­lage opened, it was marred by con­tro­versy when the Aus­tralian Olympic del­e­ga­tion re­fused to move in, la­belling the fa­cil­ity “un­live­able”.

In­stead, they checked into ho­tels, as did the Ar­gen­tine del­e­ga­tion, which chose to rent apart­ments out­side the vil­lage for some of its ath­letes.

The Aus­tralian del­e­ga­tion also said the tow­ers were “un­safe”. Blocked toi­lets, leak­ing pipes, ex­posed wiring and dark­ened stair­wells were among the prob­lems they cited.

But the South African del­e­ga­tion has, in stark con­trast, hailed the Olympic vil­lage as “one of the best they’ve stayed in”.

“We have set­tled in well and are happy with our ac­com­mo­da­tion. So far our block is fine and we have not en­coun­tered any prob­lems,” said Jes­sica Choga, spokes­woman for the SA Sports Con­fed­er­a­tion and Olympic Com­mit­tee (Sas­coc).

Ac­cord­ing to Choga, the vil­lage has ex­cel­lent fa­cil­i­ties, which in­clude large en suite apart­ments (two ath­letes per room), air con­di­tion­ing, wifi in ev­ery room, re­cep­tion ar­eas, bal­conies, swim­ming pools, kitchen sinks, mos­quito pads and fans in all rooms.

The fa­cil­ity also in­cludes a fit­ness cen­tre, as well as a poly­clinic.

Ath­letes have even been is­sued 42 con­doms each by the IOC for their three­week stay in the vil­lage. The com­mit­tee has supplied 450 000 con­doms to the 10 500 ath­letes who will be com­pet­ing.

There is also a va­ri­ety of food avail­able for South Africa’s ath­letes to in­dulge in, ac­cord­ing to Choga.

“Dif­fer­ent dishes are avail­able to cater for dif­fer­ent peo­ple’s tastes and there will be an even greater va­ri­ety of food as teams from other coun­tries ar­rive.

“At the mo­ment it caters for Euro­pean, Asian and African tastes,” she said.

Mean­while, Rio de Janeiro mayor Ed­uardo Paes has hit back at Aus­tralia’s crit­i­cism of the ath­letes’ vil­lage by jok­ing about kan­ga­roos.

He also said Rio’s vil­lage was nicer than the one in Sydney at the 2000 Olympics.

“As hosts, what we want is for ev­ery­one to feel at home. It is nat­u­ral that you have some kind of ad­just­ments to make, but we will make Aus­tralians feel at home here. I al­most feel like putting a kan­ga­roo in front of their build­ing to make them feel at home. Ad­just­ments that have to be made will be made and we will have the ap­pro­pri­ate in­fra­struc­ture,” he said.

sameer.naik@inl.co.za

PIC­TURE: ALEX FERRO

An ex­am­ple of the ac­com­mo­da­tion at the Olympic Vil­lage in Rio.

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