Favelas ban for Aussie athletes disappoints Rio organisers
SYDNEY: The Australian Olympic Committee has upset Rio officials by imposing a ban on their athletes going to the city’s favelas during this year’s Olympic Games over security fears.
Team chef de mission Kitty Chiller said the urban slums would be off-limits to its 450 athletes, a move that prompted Rio mayor Eduardo Paes to reportedly claim “the Australian committee has been a source of aggressions to Brazil”.
Chiller put out a statement late Wednesday defending the decision. “We love Brazil and we look forward to sharing in the excitement of the Rio Games in August,” Chiller said.
“Rio has made tremendous progress with their Games’ preparations and the Australian athletes are all looking forward to competing in Rio. We have no doubt Rio will deliver.”
But she said after taking security advice it was decided not to allow Australian athletes into the favelas, which are notorious for their crime and gang warfare.
“We have a team of 450 athletes, there is no way we could manage, or police, visits to the favelas by our athletes,” she said.
“We have taken advice from our security expert who is part of the Australian Olympic team travelling to Rio in August.
“He has advised that it would be impossible for us to allow our athletes to visit the favelas because we could not control visits involving a large number of athletes going to different places at different times.”
It is not the first friction between Australia and Brazil in the lead-up to the Games.
There was a backlash in Brazil after AOC president John Coates said in September 2013 that Rio’s preparations were the worst he had experienced, calling the slow progress of “critical concern”.