RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A laptop and team shirts have been stolen from Australia’s accommodation at the Olympic athletes’ village while the building was being evacuated because of a small fire, the head of the team’s delegation at the Rio Games said Sunday.
Kitty Chiller said other computer equipment was “rifled through” but was left behind during the theft on Friday.
She said security seems to have improved, but called the theft “concerning.”
Security is high on a long list of many problems – including the Zika virus, water pollution and slow ticket sales – that are confronting South America’s first Olympics.
“When you’ve got 15,000 beds, you’ve got a lot of people walking around the village,” Chiller said. “I’m not accusing anybody, but there’s a lot of non-accredited – if you like – workers, cleaners, housecleaners, and maintenance workers walking around.”
She said “unfortunately, theft is going to be inevitable.”
She said the “three or four shirts” stolen were long-sleeve models designed to be worn to prevent mosquito bites. Mosquitoes carry the Zika virus, and many teams are using long-sleeved shirts for protection.
Australia has been hard hit so far in Rio.
It declined to enter the village on the official opening day a week ago, citing gas and water leaks, electrical shorts, and general filth in its building.
The team began checking in on Wednesday, but on Friday a small fire broke out in the basement of the building, which forced an evacuation. There were no injuries.
Despite the problems, Chiller said the delegation felt safe in Rio. She said security at village “seems to have been stepped up,”
She said she had received no reports of problems at any of the training sites or venues.
But she added: “We have reminded all our team members, especially in the village, that you keep your doors locked – your bedroom door and the apartment door.”
Australia is one of the delegations that has prohibited its athletes and staff from visiting Rio’s hillside favelas – or slums.