Apparently seeking to draw a line under what was quickly dubbed “#kangaroogate” on Twitter, Paes apologized for “a bad joke.”
“It was not a joke, it was a kind of gesture. I got there and said that what happened to the Australian team was unfortunate,” he told Globo television chat show “Jo’s Program,” which aired Wednesday. “Then I said I wanted to make them feel at home and… put a kangaroo.”
The kangaroo issue blew up over the weekend when the Australian team got hopping mad over what it said were shambolic conditions at the Olympic Village, including blocked toilets, leaky pipes and dangerous wiring.
Paes, whose city is the first South American host of the Olympics, responded by quipping that a kangaroo should be put “in front of their building” to make the athletes feel happier.
Team Australia says that frantic last-minute work in their Village apartments is now close to finished.
They’ve also taken the mayor’s advice and put a large replica kangaroo and emu in the entrance.