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  • "The Sky Is Falling" (Some Say) -- Media Watch


    (ATR) World media more focused on issues surrounding the Rio 2016 Olympics than the athletes.

    A bedroom unit within the Olympic Village. (Getty Images)
    The latest controversy to put a damper on the Olympic spirit is the conditions of the Olympic Village as athletes begin to arrive in Rio. 

    Australian Team chef de mission Kitty Chiller said in a statement: “Problems include blocked toilets, leaking pipes, exposed wiring, darkened stairwells where no lighting has been installed and dirty floors in need of a massive clean.”

    The Australian team conducted a “stress test” — turning on toilets and faucets on several floors at the same time and found that the system failed.

    “In our mind, our building is not habitable,” she adds.

    Wall Street Journal correspondent Will Connors calls the village's housing issues an embarrassment for the host city. “Although the Rio organizers say they are going to finish the repairs, we can’t risk it. One of the most-affected buildings is ours, as well as Australia’s,” the head of the Argentine Olympic Committee Gerardo Werthein said.

    Rio 2016 Olympic Village (ATR)
    Portuguese and Swedish NOCs also released statements on the state of the Olympic Village.

    Plans are underway to accelerate the construction process by adding 600 more laborers. “It is a massive operation and a massive undertaking to fix everything in such a way that we don’t disturb the athletes and we don’t compromise the security,” Mario Andrada, Rio 2016 communications director told Dom Phillips of The Washington Post.

    Chiller said in a press conference on Wednesday that all of the Australian athletes that were supposed to live in the Village had moved in.

    While athletes begin to arrive in Rio, many qualified Russian athletes are still waiting to find out whether their International Federations will allow them to make the trip to Brazil.

    As the IFs make sense of the results of the WADA-supported McLaren investigation and determine the eligibility of its Russian competitors, president of the Russian Olympic Committee Alexander Zhukov continues to deny the presence of a state-sponsored doping program in the country.

    ROC president Alexander Zhukov (Getty Images)
    "I can say only one thing: we have never had any state programs for doping support,” Zhukov told reporters at Russian News Agency TASS. “We have zero tolerance to doping.”

    The NOC president and IOC member went as far as to say that the Russian delegation allowed in Rio will be the cleanest, a likely outcome considering the intensified scrutiny Russian athletes are facing.

    Yulia Stepanova is one of the primary whistleblowers who helped uncover the Russian doping scandal. She was cleared by the IOC to compete as a neutral athlete. However, the IOC reversed its decision to allow the 800m runner to compete at the Games after it published new guidelines for IFs to follow when determining the eligibility of Russian athletes. Stepanova, due to her failed doping test in 2013, is automatically disqualified under the new rules.

    Yuliya Stepanova walks to complete a race after suffering an injury at the European championships. (Getty Images)
    In response, fans of Stepanova have taken to to petition the IOC to once again reverse its decision and allow the whistleblower to compete. The petition aims for 50,000 signatures and already has more than 40,000 supporters.

    The Guardian’s Simon Jenkins suggests an unorthodox approach. He says in order to truly eliminate doping in sport the Olympics would need to be “denationalized”.

    “Olympic Games should be where individuals come to run, jump, swim and compete,” Jenkins writes. “They should be denationalized, with teams, flags, anthems and state identities banned, and victory going to the best person, not the best state. Such games would attract little glamour or public money but it would be a more honest Olympics for true lovers of sports. The IOC could then hold its drug-assisted festivals of chauvinism for what are de facto government employees.”

    While some focus on the issues of the Village and the Russian doping scandal, two-time United States Olympian Megan Kalmoe points her attention elsewhere.

    Olympian Megan Kalmoe. (Getty Images)
    Stop trying to ruin the Olympics for Us” Kalmoe states in her latest blog post. (Warning: Mild Explicit Content) Kalmoe is a member of the U.S. Rowing team and is tired of hearing about the quality of Rio's waters.

    "I will row through sh** for you, America" she states.

    Kalmoe ended her narrative with, "... I will defend fiercely the dignity of the people who are doing their best to make everyone happy while we are all guests in their beautiful country. I will do it, and I will try to discourage you from taking away even the tiniest bit of magic or excitement from a single one of my teammates who have earned this trip with their blood and sweat, and all of whom deserve to have a really positive experience in Rio".

    The Rio 2016 Olympics will begin on Aug. 5 and conclude Aug. 21.

    Homepage photo: Getty Images

    Written by Courtney Colquitt and Kevin Nutley

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