Rio mayor hands Australia keys to city
Rio de Janeiro, July 28 (IANS) Rio de Janeiro mayor Eduardo Paes has presented the head of Australia's Olympic delegation, Kitty Chiller, with the keys to the city and apologised for problems at the Rio 2016 athletes village.
Wednesday's informal ceremony took place just three days after Australia refused to enter their allocated apartments due to issues such as blocked toilets, leaking pipes and exposed wiring, reports Xinhua.
Paes said he was sorry for telling reporters on Sunday that he wanted to arrange for a kangaroo to welcome Australia at the village.
"It wasn't the right time to joke," Paes said on Wednesday. "I have come here to make a formal apology. Not in any moment did I want to make fun of Australia. I know that it (the kangaroo) is the country's national symbol."
In addition to the keys to the city, Paes handed Chiller a doll of the Rio 2016 mascot Vinicius.
Meanwhile, Kitty gave Paes a boxing kangaroo, an Australian sporting symbol since the 1980s.
"Thank you very much. We are very happy to be here," Kitty told Paes. "I have said that this is the best village that we have seen in five Olympic Games."
Organisers have contracted hundreds of workers to fix problems at the village over the past three days. The delegations from Britain, Argentina, New Zealand, Brazil and Italy also complained of the need for repairs to their apartments.
The Rio 2016 organising committee has said all of the issues will be resolved by Thursday.
"We have had some problems, there is no denying that," Paes said. "The village was ready a long time ago. If we had have seen these issues a week earlier there wouldn't have been any problems. There was a failure on the part of the organising committee. But the team has come together and done a great job."
The Rio Games, the first Olympics in South America, will be held from August 5 to 21.