Rio Olympics: Athletes welcomed with condoms, air conditioning
RIO DE JANEIRO — With a record number of condoms allocated and air-conditioners in every bedroom, Rio’s athletes village starts welcoming Olympians on Sunday.
The new apartment towers built to house 11,000 athletes and 6,000 coaches during Rio’s Games are being called basic, even austere.
But when you step out on the balcony of one of the 3,604 apartments, the complex — with its swimming pools, tennis courts and bike lanes — looks downright five-star.
“The athletes are going to have everything they could possibly wish for during the Games,” said Paul Ramler, founder of RSG events, which has been supplying furniture for athletes’ villages since Sydney 2000.
“I’ve never seen anything like this during all my years at the Games.”
Local organizers describe the 31 17-story towers as a “city within a city” complete with a 24-hour cafeteria, beauty salon and florist.
The rooms themselves are furnished with the basics: metal beds, bedside tables and disposable wardrobes made with recycled fabric.
Ramler said the idea was to make the furniture sustainable but also inexpensive in keeping with Rio’s bid to provide low-budget Games. The complex was built with private money and the developers are already looking for buyers post-Olympics.
The main entrance is heavily guarded and equipped with metal detectors.
Unlike in recent Games, there are no TVs in the apartments. Organizers did finally agree to install air conditioners in the bedrooms to allay fears over the mosquito-borne Zika virus, despite the expected cool temperatures during the games, which fall during Rio’s winter. The opening ceremony is scheduled for August 5.
According to Ramler, the apartments are equipped with 13,000 toilet seats, 275,000 clothes hangers and 18,500 beds that can be extended in length for taller athletes.
The spartan bathrooms sport plastic shower curtains and a single oval mirror, but no drawers or cupboards to store the 450,000 condoms that will be distributed to athletes — equivalent to 42 per person.
“I guess they’re going stick those in the bedside tables,” Ramler said.