Members of the Australian Olympic team were robbed during a fire evacuation at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Village, in the latest of a series of complaints about the athletes’ housing complex. The Australian building was evacuated Friday after a fire in the basement, which was likely started by a cigarette.
The evacuation of around 100 people lasted about 30 minutes while the fire was dealt with, according to Australian media sources.
A spokesperson for the Australian Olympic Committee said two laptops and some clothing were taken during that time.
But athletes are less concerned about the theft, and more concerned about the lack of fire alarms; people were notified about the blaze by word of mouth.
Warren Potent, a veteran shooter, apparently slept through the entire ordeal according to AAP, because he didn’t wake up when someone knocked on his door.
Obviously that is completely unacceptable that a) the fire alarm was disabled and b) that if it had to be, that we weren’t warned about that,” Australian chef de mission Kitty Chiller complained.
The team now has fire wardens for each floor in the 18-storey building, and Chiller is warning other countries to be wary.
“I spoke to a couple of my colleagues, three or four other NOCs (national Olympic committees) last night, and just said ‘look, check your basement, see what rubbish is still left there,'” she said.
Last week, Chiller kept all 700 Australian athletes and staff out of the Athletes Village for at least two days, citing electrical and plumbing problems in the sprawling complex.
“I have never experienced a village in this state – or lack of state – of readiness at this point in time,” she said at the time.
Rio Olympic organizers say the water and gas leaks, blocked toilets, and electrical faults may have been caused by isolated cases of sabotage.
The Athlete’s Village is a sprawling complex of 31 buildings that is supposed to house all 18,000 athletes and staff from around the world during the summer Olympics.
The Argentine delegation also complained about similar defects and possible cause of accidents such as exposed electrical wiring, gas leaks and blocked toilets. The delegation temporarily moved to nearby rented flats.
As a result of the incident the Australian Olympic Committee has demanded Rio 2016 organizers enforce a strict ban on smoking in the athletes’ village after saying a fire in the basement of their building was probably caused by a cigarette tossed into rubbish.
Ms Chiller said it was also “completely unacceptable” that a previously tested fire alarm system had been switched off at the time without the Australians being informed.
“The fire did seem to be accidental, probably a cigarette thrown into rubbish in the building,” Chiller told a news conference on Saturday.
“We have asked Rio 2016 to enforce a very strict non-smoking policy. Every athlete’s village in the Olympic Games should be non-smoking so we’ve asked for that to be enforced because at the moment it’s not.”