Olympics hopefuls better brace themselves to handle the heat in Rio, because Brazil officials are turning up the thermostat. Organizers have announced that none of the 10,500 Olympic athletes will have air conditioning in their bedrooms.
That's a reversal from previously stated plans, and it's the product of an initiative to but $520 million in spending. The budget cuts are prompted by a deep economic recession in Brazil that is straining efforts to ready Rio for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Those Olympics, set for August, will be played during the Southern Hemisphere's winter. But Rio is so close to the equator that the difference will hardly matter: August temperatures can easily hit the mid-90s in the tropical region.
Air conditioning was cut because organizers didn't consider it a "critical" cost. Athletes can still have an air-conditioned room, but their respective countries will have to pony up the money to pay for the machines themselves. That's likely not a problem for the United States, but smaller, poorer countries might not be able to cover the cost, and that could give developed nations a slight advantage in competition, especially if hot rooms create problems such as difficulty sleeping.
The air conditioning fiasco is only the most recent of several black eyes for Rio's Olympics project. Earlier this week, reports confirmed that the waters slated to host various Olympic water events remain dangerously polluted, with no clear path to correcting the problem in a mere eight months.
Brazil's Olympic representatives have assured media that the problem will be fixed, but they've been saying that for years, and the waters have seen no improvement of their condition.
All in all, it's shaping up to be a real mess of a Summer Olympics. As the opening ceremony draws near, Rio continues to fumble its way through problems old and new. A lack of air conditioning next summer will only add insult to injury for many Olympians.
"Some of them are going to be unhappy," Rio spokesman Mario Andrada told ESPN. "That's normal."
Or at least, it's normal in Rio.