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Rio Mayor Admits Australia Was Right About Dodgy Rooms, Gets Kangaroo

Have a kangaroo, Eduardo.

28/07/2016 9:09 AM AEST | Updated July 28, 2016 09:55
Edgard Garrido / Reuters
Breaking news: Yet again, the Olympic mascot looks like a computer-generated blob.

It's safe to say Australia has not exactly been the favourite country of Rio mayor Eduardo Paes this year.

Back in February, the Australian Olympic Committee was the first such national Olympic body to formally ban athlete visits to Rio's favelas, and relations soured further between Paes and the AOC earlier this week when our first athletes arrived in the Olympic Village to find shonky plumbing and wiring and a woeful standard of cleanliness.

Those issues have since been sorted, and our athletes have moved in. Overnight, Paes changed his tune, officially welcoming the Australian Team to Rio. He even took the step of offering Australia's Chef de Mission Kitty Chiller the keys to the city in recognition of the friendship and respect between the people of Rio and Australia.

We're the only nation thus far to receive such treatment.

Edgard Garrido / Reuters
"Oi" means "hi" in Portuguese, so Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!

"I hope you guys enjoy Rio, enjoy Brazil, this is a very special country," Paes said in a ceremony within the International Zone of the Olympic Village.

"We have our problems but we are very proud of our city. It is is an amazing place, it is going to be a great celebration with amazing people, like you guys in Australia. So welcome to Rio!"

The fact the 46-year-old mayor has come around to our Olympic team's concerns is a clear admission that Rio has major problems with crime as the August 5 opening ceremony looms. Channel Nine reporter Christine Ahern was the victim of an attempted mugging on Copacabana beach on Monday, in the latest of a string of attacks across the city.

He is also now admitting that the Olympic Village facilities were not initially up to scratch. When Chiller first complained, Paes mockingly offered to put a kangaroo in front of the Australian athletes' accommodation to help them feel more at home.

He's now talking a lot straighter.

Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters
"Oh, no. Why did I taunt the Aussies?" Paes beside IOC president Thomas Bach.

"We got together with the Australian team last Friday, I came to the village and I saw that things were not well and this was the worst feeling," he said.

"I recognised the problems that we faced and I really wanted to come here today to also make a formal apology. "Australia is going to be my second team. I hope you get all the other gold medals."

In a lovely touch, Chiller presented Paes with an official Australia team shirt and boxing kangaroo mascot. Chiller was also in a conciliatory mood. She even broke out the Brazilian Portuguese.

"The passion and the commitment and the willingness of your people to help us has been outstanding. Muito obrigado estamos felizes"

That translates as "Thank you very much, we are happy". Here's hoping the goodwill lasts.

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