RIO DE JANEIRO — Volleyball player Gavin Schmitt says his bed in the Olympic athletes’ village fits his six-foot-10 body just fine.
“It’s long enough,” the Saskatoon native said Tuesday. “They put an extra little piece of bed at the bottom of the bed.”
Canadian athletes joined those from Angola, Malaysia and Figi in a welcoming ceremony for the four countries in the village situated just outside Barra Olympic Park on the west side of Rio.
They were entertained with samba and song beside condominium towers with various countries’ flags draped from balconies.
The opening ceremonies of the 2016 Summer Games is Friday. Canada kicks off competition Wednesday, however, when the women’s soccer team takes on Australia in a preliminary-round game in Sao Paulo.
Canada’s goal is a top-12 ranking among countries in total medals won.
Water leaks, exposed electrical wires and inadequate plumbing delayed Australia’s move into the village. The Australian team was also briefly evacuated last week because of a small fire in a basement car park.
But Schmitt and others in Canada’s contingent of 314 athletes say they have lights, hot water, functioning toilets and good food.
“We feel very fortunate,” tennis player Daniel Nestor said. “From what we heard, we were a little bit worried, but our dorms are great.”
The 43-year-old from Toronto was named to the Olympic tennnis team for the sixth time in his career after Milos Raonic withdrew citing health and Zika concerns.
Nestor didn’t stay in the athletes’ village back in 2000 when he and Sebastian Lareau won doubles gold in Sydney, Australia. But the veteran has resided in other Olympic villages.
“The villages seem similar and the vibe is always great,” Nestor said. “We’ve got a big team and lots of expectations.”
The Canadian Olympic Committee had an advance team on the ground in mid-July ironing out wrinkles in the team’s 68 apartments, according to chef de mission Curt Harnett.
“We liken it to buying a new house and moving in that first day,” Harnett said. “There’s going to be some kinks and some small issues to deal with.
“I think when you look at the scope of that project, the village, you’re bound to have issues and maybe one building had more issues than another. Plumbing, water and electrical issues are not uncommon in these circumstances.”
“We felt we had everything under control.”
Said Schmitt: “I’m sure they went through a lot of work we probably wouldn’t want to have to do ourselves. I have zero complaints about anything.”
When they’re not training or competing, the athletes expect to spend their time in the comfy, secure bubble the athletes’ village provides.
“We had a briefing from an RCMP and they’re confident about everything,” Nestor said. “It makes us confident.
“They said this whole area, this bubble of the venues, the village and the stadium is the safest in the world right now so that makes me feel good.”
The women’s rugby team moved in Saturday. Karen Paquin of Quebec City wants to watch her Canadian teammates compete in other sports when she has downtime.
The women’s rugby team did a familiarization tour of Rio a year ago just after the Pan American Games in Toronto to “get the touristy stuff done.”
“I think it was important to come and see it because it really opened our eyes on how beautiful this place is,” Paquin said. “Coming here and seeing that, it can be distracting from what we have to do.
“I’m thankful that I had the chance to do it at that moment because right now is not the time to do it. We are here to perform.”
Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press
©2016 The Canadian Press