Olympic teams suffer through problems at Rio’s Athletes’ Village


RIO DE JANEIRO — The Summer Olympics are just days from opening, and organizers have been forced to mount a “massive operation” to fix a deluge of plumbing and electricity problems at the Athletes’ Village in Rio.

It was the latest upset for an Olympics taking place amid a severe economic recession, a Zika epidemic, the impeachment process of suspended president Dilma Rousseff and a spike in crime in Rio state — which is so broke it needed a government bailout to pay police salaries in arrears.

The latest crisis began on Sunday, when the Australian team said its building in the Athletes’ Village was uninhabitable because of problems with plumbing and electricity.

Now, with those issues resolved, the Australians have moved in. But other teams have complained about conditions in many of their apartments. The Argentine committee said that two of the five floors of its building were uninhabitable, and it had to rent apartments nearby for some of its technical staff. The Belarus Olympic committee published photos of dirty windows and blocked drains on its official page. Egyptian athletes had no hot water and their toilets did not flush, while a Kenyan wrote “Please fix my toilet” on a notice board in the Olympic Village.

A squad of 600 plumbers and electricians has been scrambling to repair everything.

“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’s communications director, told The Washington Post. The operation was on course to finish by Thursday night, he said.

But even that operation has run into trouble.

On Wednesday, officials from Brazil’s Ministry of Work inspected laborers’ conditions and found the emergency team had been contracted informally, without the proper documentation. Fines could be levied if the subcontractors who hired the workers don’t produce the necessary documents, the ministry said in a statement published on its website.

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A spokeswoman for Rio 2016, speaking on condition of anonymity because of internal regulations, said organizers had presented the necessary documentation to the ministry.

But questions remain: How bad were the problems, and why wasn’t the village ready when athletes began moving in on Sunday?

On July 26, TV Globo’s nightly news program, Jornal Nacional, said one company contracted to fix the issues found problems in 57 out of the 272 apartments it was working on, including a lack of power and showers that did not work.

Filmed in shadow, an unidentified engineer working there said he believed the defects stemmed from the construction of the complex, built by a real estate consortium with plans to eventually sell the units. Rio 2016 is renting the complex of 3,604 apartments from Ilha Pura.

“I believe they had deadlines. They had to deliver the works on the date, and they delivered it the way it was,” the engineer said.

Ilha Pura, or Pure Island, the real estate developer that built the complex, said the company had delivered the apartments in pristine condition.

“The construction work was 100 percent finished,” a spokeswoman said in an email. “No kind of structural problem was found.” She spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing internal regulations.

Ilha Pura supplied technical teams to help finish the work, the spokeswoman said, and its priority was to offer athletes “the best hospitality infrastructure.”

That was not what the Australian team found when it conducted a “stress test” of the apartments on Saturday — turning on toilets and taps on several floors at the same time.

“The system failed. Water came down walls, there was a strong smell of gas in some apartments and there was ‘shorting’ in the electrical wiring,” delegation chief Kitty Chiller said in a statement. “In our mind, our building is not habitable,” she later told reporters.

Andrada, the spokesman for Rio 2016, said the complex had been turned over to organizers at the end of May but water and electricity were connected in June.
“The main cause for the delay was that water and electricity were connected too late” and there was no time to check the units before they were handed to the national Olympic committees, he said.

Andrada said it was not clear whose fault that was.

“Ilha Pura could maybe have delivered some of the apartments in better condition,” he said. “We should have done better testing. But we are not discussing this now.”

“Now the focus is on the resolution of the problem, not the cause of the problem,” he said.

On Wednesday evening, some athletes described the problems they found. Shimaa Hashad, a member of the Egyptian shooting team, had no hot water when she arrived at her apartment earlier that day, and her toilet did not flush. “We told them and they fixed it,” she said. “My friends from other countries told me about the same problems.”

The Dutch team brought two technicians of its own after facing similar issues at Olympic Villages in London and in the Russian city of Sochi. But Rio was worse, said spokesman John van Vliet. Dutch field hockey player Mink Van Der Weerden said those efforts meant his apartment was in good condition when he arrived.

“They did a bit of work,” he said. “And now it’s all good.”

Kiton Muca, an administration assistant for the Albanian team, said its members had faced some small issues on arriving, such as toilets that didn’t flush, but these had been resolved. “For each Olympic Games, this is the situation,” he said. Rio is his third.

Others faced more serious issues. The Argentine Olympic committee rented apartments in a nearby condominium for some of its technical staff because two of the five floors were “uninhabitable”, its president, Gerardo Werthein, told reporters in Buenos Aires on Monday.

“It was very bad but it is being repaired,” Eduardo Moyano, the team’s communications director, told the Post, adding that the problems would probably be resolved in two or three days.



Team USA Roster For Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Team USA

BATTLE CREEK, Mich., July 28, 2016 – After a challenging season of trials and qualification, all Team Kellogg’s athletes have officially been named to Team USA. Through their dedication, hard work and perseverance, Team Kellogg’s has proven they have what it takes to representthe United States at the 2016 Olympic Games as first-time Olympians. By showcasing what gets them started each day, the athletes have shown fans firsthand what drives them towards their Team USAaspirations, and gets them through the daily grind of training and competition.

“It has been thrilling to watch Team Kellogg’s transition from Team USA hopefuls to official first-time Team USA members. By examining what gets them started, we’ve learned what inspires these athletes to push themselves to success in their sports and in life,” said Noel Geoffroy, Senior Vice President, Marketing & Innovation for Kellogg’s® U.S. Morning Foods. “We are extremely proud of Team Kellogg’saccomplishments over the past few months and wish them the best of luck on their Road To Rio.”

Kellogg’s is excited to announce the newest member of Team Kellogg’s and Team USA. First-time Olympian in men’s basketball, Jimmy Butler, has been a partner of the company for several years and a natural addition to Team Kellogg’s. Butler joins the existing Kellogg’s team which is made up of first-time U.S. Olympic athletes: Ajee’ Wilson (track and field – 800m), Julie Johnston (soccer), Simone Biles(gymnastics) and Tom Shields (swimming – 100 and 200m fly). While the official Team USA Paralympic announcement comes out in a few weeks, Natalie Bieule has been nominated for Rio, having placed first in U.S. Paralympic discus trials in early July.

“I’m really excited share my first Olympic Games experience with Team USA and my fellow Team Kellogg’s members,” said Simone Biles. “Kellogg’s has helped get me started since I was a kid, so I’m proud to be representing their team with this incredible group of athletes. We are all very excited to experience Rio in August.”

Baseball-Dee Gordon apologizes before rejoining Miami Marlins

MIAMI — Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon issued an apology addressed primarily to his young fans as he returned from an 80-game suspension for a positive drug test.

“I know I let you down, and I’m sorry,” Gordon said in a video from the UNINTERRUPTED. “Complacency led me to this, and I’m hurt. I urge you guys to be more responsible than I am about what goes into your body. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.”

BREAKING NEWS: Dee Gordon (@FlashGJr) sends apology to fans before returning to the @Marlins tonight.

Gordon, who won the National League batting and stolen base titles last year, was reinstated before Thursday’s game against St. Louis.

Gordon tested positive for two performance-enhancing substances and was suspended in late April. Gordon acknowledged in April that he unknowingly took the banned substances.

Marlins president David Samson said then that the second baseman had betrayed the team and its fans. On Wednesday, Samson said the Marlins are glad to have Gordon back.

“I believe that America and our fans and our players and us, we’re a pretty forgiving society,” Samson said. “It’s important Dee ask for that forgiveness, and he has, and he’ll receive that. He’s got to continue to work to get himself back in with his teammates and the fans and my son.”

In his video, the 5-foot-11, 170-pound Gordon said he learned from his mistake.

“I thought being the smallest guy I would never fail a drug test,” he said. “I didn’t pay attention at all and I didn’t meet the standards. That’s my fault and no one else’s. But don’t give up on me.”

To make room on the roster for Gordon, the Marlins designated for assignment infielder Don Kelly, who had two triples in Sunday’s victory. Even without Gordon, the Marlins have remained in contention for their first playoff berth since 2003.

Last year Gordon batted .333, stole 58 bases, became an All-Star for the second time and won his first Gold Glove. The season earned him a $50 million, five-year contract in January.

Courtesy ESPN

NBA to move All-Star Game from North Carolina over LGBT law

Charlotte, NC-July 21st 2016- A North Carolina law limiting the state’s anti-discrimination protections has prompted the NBA to move next year’s All-Star Game from Charlotte.

League commissioner Adam Silver warned last month at the NBA Finals and again earlier this month that the law, which has caused an uproar in the gay and transgender community, could prompt such a move.

Among the problems the NBA and other critics have with House Bill 2 (HB2) is that it mandates transgender people use public restrooms corresponding to the sex listed on their birth certificates and omits gay and transgender people from discrimination protection.

“While we recognize that the NBA cannot choose the law in every city, state, and country in which we do business, we do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2,” Silver said in a statement.

“The NBA will make an announcement on the new location of the 2017 NBA All-Star Game in the coming weeks.”

NC’s cancelled gigs

A host of high-profile entertainers have already cancelled concerts in North Carolina in protest of the anti-discrimination laws.

Silver said the NBA removed the game from Charlotte “with the hope of rescheduling for 2019,” but added, “provided there is an appropriate resolution to this matter.”

An attempted compromise bill did not go far enough to satisfy league concerns.

“We do not endorse the version of the bill that we understand is currently before the legislature,” an NBA statement said earlier this month.

“We remain committed to our guiding principles of inclusion, mutual respect and equal protections for all.”

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), America’s largest LGBT (Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender) organization, hailed the NBA’s decision.

“The NBA and commissioner Silver sent a clear message that they won’t stand for discrimination,” HRC president Chad Griffin said.

“The NBA repeatedly warned state lawmakers that their hateful HB2 law created an inhospitable environment for their 2017 All-Star Game and other events.”

Silver said he had been working with city and state officials and business leaders trying to avoid the “enormous economic damage” of losing the All-Star weekend spectacle.

“Since March, when North Carolina enacted HB2 and the issue of legal protections for the LGBT community in Charlotte became prominent, the NBA and the Charlotte Hornets have been working diligently to foster constructive dialogue and try to effect positive change.

“We have been guided in these discussions by the long-standing core values of our league. These include not only diversity, inclusion, fairness and respect for others but also the willingness to listen and consider opposing points of view,” he said.

Months of advance preparation are needed for the NBA’s mid-season showcase, putting pressure on the NBA not to wait for North Carolina politicians to return from a summer break.

Silver said he was confident the environment at home games of the Charlotte Hornets, owned by retired NBA legend Michael Jordan, would be inclusive for all.

“Charlotte and the Hornets organization have sought to provide an inclusive environment,” Silver said.

“The Hornets will continue to ensure that all patrons — including members of the LGBT community — feel welcome while attending games and events in their arena.”


USA-Cricket finding a home in land of basketball

Fort Wayne, Indiana USA, 3rd July 2016: For many players on the Fort Wayne Warriors cricket team, being able to play the game means a lot because of where they’re from.

Sagar Govani, 25, is originally from India and found opportunities to play in Connecticut and while attending college at Purdue before moving to Fort Wayne and joining the team.

“Most of us are from India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka,” Govani said. “They’re trying to make it popular, but it’s a slowly growing sport in America. We love playing. I’ve played ever since I was 5 years old and when I found out they had it here, I was amazed.”

The game is played on a circular field allowing players to try to hit the ball in any direction and the objective is to hit the ball and score runs.

“A lot of times when people describe cricket, they compare it to baseball,” Govani said. “If you can learn baseball, you can learn cricket. It’s not very difficult. You have to hit the ball and try to score as many points as you can.”

Indiana USA

Each team is made up of 11 players. The bowler throws the ball and the striker tries to protect the wicket while also hitting the ball well enough to score runs. The striker and non-striker then run back and forth from end to end, scoring runs.

In test cricket, there are two innings (instead of nine) with each team getting 10 outs each (instead of three).

If the ball is hit and crosses a boundary, four runs are awarded if the ball bounces before it crosses or six runs if it didn’t bounce.

To be out, the ball can be caught (like in baseball), bowled out when the bowler hits the wickets directly with the ball or leg before wicket, when the ball hits the batsman’s leg and had their leg not been there, the ball would have hit the wicket.

A run-out can occur if the ball is fielded quickly and a wicket is put down while the striker or non-striker is out of their ground.

Cricket is the second most popular sport in the world behind soccer.

Courtesy Journalgazette

Baseball star Ivan Rodriguez to Raise Awareness of Threat of Zika Virus in Puerto Rico

Ivan Rodriguez

EWING, N.J., June 21, 2016 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ — Church & Dwight Co. Inc., the maker of Trojan™ Brand Condoms, and the National Coalition of STD Directors announced today a partnership with Major League Baseball player, Ivan Rodriguez to raise awareness around how to prevent the spread of the Zika virus in Puerto Rico. Rodriguez, a native Puerto Rican, will voice a radio commercial in Spanish set to air across Puerto Rico, highlighting the importance of condom use in combatting the spread of Zika.


The commercial, part of the brand’s ongoing effort to combat the Zika outbreak, clarifies Zika, while primarily spread by mosquitos, can also be sexually transmitted by an infected man to his partner. In the radio spot, Rodriguez reinforces the importance of wearing a condom to avoid the consequences of Zika for pregnant women and those who may become pregnant while infected. Infection with Zika during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects. The commercial will air across 118 radio stations throughout Puerto Rico this summer.

“Zika is an incredibly harmful disease and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), could infect as many as 1 in 4 Puerto Ricans by the end of this year. We are proud to partner withIvan Rodriguez as we continue our ongoing efforts to call attention to the fact that unlike many other mosquito-borne diseases, Zika can be transmitted through sexual contact,” said Bruce Weiss, Vice President of Marketing for Trojan™ Brand Condoms. “We are committed to investing in sexual health and raising awareness around the importance of using a condom each and every time during sex. To protect against Zika virus, this is especially important for couples who are pregnant or may become pregnant. A man may transmit Zika to his pregnant partner, even if he does not have symptoms at the time or if his symptoms have gone away. Condoms can protect a pregnant woman from getting Zika from sex.”

“While I played Major League Baseball in the U.S. for more than 20 years, Puerto Rico will always be my home. I was shocked to hear the alarming rate at which the Zika virus is spreading across the territory,” said Ivan Rodriguez. “I am honored to partner with Trojan™ to help raise awareness around the importance of protection for those that live a sexually active life. The consequences of contracting Zika can be devastating for pregnant women, and I want to encourage Puerto Ricans to understand that aside from abstinence, there is no better way to protect against giving or getting Zika from sex, than using a condom.”

In May, the maker of Trojan™ Brand Condoms donated more than 150,000 condoms to aid the CDC Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) efforts to help prevent the spread of Zika virus to women who are pregnant or may become pregnant, because Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects. Trojan™ Brand Condoms will be included in Zika Prevention Kits being distributed in areas of high risk including the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa as well as the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

Zika virus is generally spread by the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquito, but it can also be passed during sex by a man who has Zika to his partner1. Based on recent evidence, sexual transmission of the virus may be more common than previously thought2. Men and women who live in or travel to an area with Zika and who are concerned about trying to get pregnant, should talk to their healthcare provider. CDC recommends pregnant couples with male partners who live in or travel to areas with Zika, take steps to protect their pregnancy. These couples should use a condom every time they have sex or not have sex during the pregnancy. To be effective, condoms must be used correctly from start to finish, every time during vaginal, anal, and oral (mouth-to-penis) sex3.

In addition to helping combat the spread of Zika virus, the maker of Trojan™ Brand Condoms is committed to investing in public health efforts to support sexual health. Last year, Trojan announced the launch of a 10-year partnership with the National Coalition of STD Directors to donate more than 1,000,000 Trojan brand condoms to health departments across the country every year for 10 years.

More information about the Zika virus and sexual transmission can be found on CDC’s website (http://www.cdc.gov/zika/transmission/sexual-transmission.html).