Nilton Santos Stadium, which will serve as the track and field venue at this year’s Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, is reportedly currently without power and hasn’t had running water in a month due to unpaid utilities.
Stephen Wade of the Associated Press reported the shut-off is the result of a dispute between the city of Rio and soccer club Botafogo over which side is responsible. The city claims Botafogo is at fault, while the club told the AP that Rio’s government owes it funds toward the bills, which total $250,000, according to Brazilian outlet Globo Esporte.
“We have to find out who is responsible for the debt,” the club told Wade.
This news is just the latest in a series of setbacks for the Rio Games, which have been rife with difficulties in controlling costs and criticisms over worker safety.
Construction on buildings lagged months behind expectations, with the infrastructure in Brazil paling in comparison to the relatively smooth 2012 London Games. Work was shut down last April at two different sites over safety concerns, which came to the forefront after multiple worker deaths during early preparations.
Making matters worse, Brazilian citizens have been in an uproar over the cost of the Summer Games amid a deep economic recession. That led to an October announcement of a 30 percent cutback in expenditures, which were meant to keep the project on budget. Changes were to include taking on fewer volunteers, making cuts to the opening ceremony and substituting structures for removable objects like tents when possible.
“The days of lavish spending are over,” communications director Mario Andrada said, per Wyre Davies of BBC Sport. “We need to be creative in the way we find these savings.”
Obviously, this is another setback from a public relations standpoint whether or not Botafogo is at fault. The entire Rio Games process has been a mess from the outset, and Brazilian officials have to merely cross their fingers that the actual event goes off without a hitch. If so, maybe the public will eventually forget about all of the problems leading up to this summer.