US basketball teams to stay on luxury cruise ship as stars bemoan facilities at Olympic Village
The stars of the US basketball teams will be staying on a cruise liner moored off Rio de Janeiro, as concerns linger over the accommodation at the Olympic Village.
Boasting luxury amenities and attractions, the Silver Cloud has been reserved for the US delegation at the Olympics and the men's and women's basketball teams have already been allotted some of the 196 cabins on board, the general directorate of the Maua port terminal said.
While thousands of tourists are expected to visit the revitalised port to watch the action from the Games on giants screens, heavy security will prevent them from getting close to the cruise ship.
A bulletproof fence surrounds the area around the vessel, while the athletes will be guarded by around 250 police officers, AAP reported.
“The Federal Police will also have two boats ... that they will use to prevent navigation near the vessel,” Alexandre Gomes, Maua port terminal operations director, said.
Despite lingering issues with plumbing and laundry, athletes and training staff say the Olympic Village is much improved, nine days after blocked toilets and exposed wiring forced the Australian team to move.
Organisers hired around 600 people to work on repairing the 31-building complex housing more than 17,000 participants and within days they had coaxed the Aussies back.
"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, Australian canoe coach, said on Tuesday.
Despite the difference in standards of accommodation, members of Australia's men's basketball team have denied they are jealous of their US counterparts, joking they are happy to "cuddle" in the cramped conditions of the Olympic Village.
Team member Andrew Bogut, who won an NBA championship with the Golden State Warriors in 2015, has been vocal in tweeting complaints over conditions in the village in recent days under the hashtag #IOCLuxuryLodging, commenting on the tight space between the beds in rooms and the lack of shower curtains.
But players dismissed suggestions the Australian team would like to trade places with the US team of NBA stars.
"Nah, we like to cuddle with our team mates," Patrick Mills, point guard with the San Antonio Spurs, said on Tuesday.
Damian Martin, who plays in the Australian National Basketball League (NBL), said Bogut's tweeting had been tongue-in-cheek.
"I play in the NBL, which is obviously a little bit less paid than the NBA. But even I can use the toilet and flush toilet paper down it when I go on the road, whereas here it is a little bit different," he added.
Not everything is perfect though.
The Argentines are complaining about weak water pressure in the bathrooms while Brazilian handballer Jose Toledo said the laundry service was less than perfect.
Several Olympians also noted a film of dust in most rooms from the recently finished construction.
However, conditions are a far cry from those on July 24 that the Australians called "not safe or ready" for the Games which start on Friday.
Rio officials called the issues "teething troubles."
Most athletes had high praise for the Village kitchens with the exception of Portuguese gymnast Felipa Martins.
"I thought the food was so-so but maybe that's because we eat so well in Portugal," she said.