Monday 26 September 2016

Olympic sailing ramp collapses as athletes' village chief is sacked over 'unsafe' conditions

Jack de Menezes

Published 02/08/2016 | 16:55

The main ramp of the sailing venue is expected to be repaired before the opening ceremony on Friday. Getty
The main ramp of the sailing venue is expected to be repaired before the opening ceremony on Friday. Getty

Health and safety fears over the Rio 2016 Olympic venues have increased after the main ramp of the sailing port collapsed on Sunday, five days before the opening ceremony raises the curtain to the highly controversial Games.

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The structure collapsed after being impacted by high tides and stormy seas, according to Rio 2016 spokesman Philip Wilkinson, and although no one was injured in the incident, it raises further questions over the state of the venues in Rio de Janeiro.

A report released by The Associated Press on Monday morning has raised serious concerns over the level of contamination in Marina da Gloria port, where the sailing will take place, as well as the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana where the marathon swim will be held.

Images revealed that the main ramp of the sailing venue has collapsed and fallen into the water, but an International Olympic Committee spokesman claimed that the incident was not a big deal.

“It would be wrong to make a great deal [of the incident],” said IOC spokesman Mark Adams. “In the run-up to the games, things happen.”

Wilkinson added that the ramp is expected to be repaired within four days to be completed in time for the start of the Games, with the sailing events set to begin on Monday 8 August. Training will not be affected as teams can use the permanent ramp next to the collapsed one, although there are fears that a repeat incident could occur if bad weather hits Rio during the two-week Games.

The serious weather over the weekend also affected television studies on the Copacabana Beach as strong winds left broadcast areas flooded with water, not far from the volleyball arena on the famous beach.

Iron boards were used in an attempt to contain the waves from reaching the TV studios, but the two incidents cast further scrutiny on the condition of the Rio venues and the construction work that has been carried out over the years leading up to the 2016 Olympics.

It comes two days after reports claimed that the man behind the construction of the Olympic Village had been sacked over the “inhabitable” conditions that greeted athletes arriving for the Games.

Mario Cilenti, 46, was reported to have been fired from his role as the head of the athletes’ village after a number of rooms were incomplete across the 3,600-flat complex. According to the Daily Mail, Mr Cilenti and other Olympic organising committee members – some of whom are British – were described to have “messed up” by Rio mayor Eduardo Paes, who blamed foreigners for the poorly planned opening.

“The athletes’ village was ready,” said Paes. “Then the organising committee took charge for three months and there were extremely serious management problems.

“During those three months people intruded into the apartments and a lot of things were stolen.”

Water streamed into rooms and bathrooms through holes in the roof and many rooms had faulty wiring and fixtures stolen. Team GB’s accommodation was revealed to be in a good condition, although cleaners were required to bring the rooms up to scratch for the arrival of the athletes.

Australian team chief Kitty Chiller described the village as “simply not safe or ready” after they arrived to problems with gas, electricity and plumbing, and it was decided that the entire team would stay in hotels until the problems had been rectified.

A Rio 2016 spokesman refused to comment of Mr Cilenti’s reported dismissal.

Independent News Service

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