Rugby player forced to wait 90 minutes for Olympic ambulance

Officials said EMS “didn’t know where to go”


RIO DE JANEIRO — The New Zealand rugby star Sonny Bill Williams waited nearly 90 minutes for an ambulance after being injured at the Rio Olympics.

Williams ruptured his achilles tendon during the second half of New Zealand’s August 9 game against Japan. He was escorted off the field in a golf cart, but was unable to enter an ambulance because EMS personnel was unable to find its way to the rugby stadium in Deodoro.

The massive delay illustrated the concerns of International Olympic Committee Vice President John Coates, who called the Rio Olympics the “most difficult” event he has ever organized.

New Zealand's Sonny Bill Williams, is driven out of the stadium by medics during the men's rugby sevens match against Japan at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
New Zealand's Sonny Bill Williams, is driven out of the stadium by medics during the men's rugby sevens match against Japan at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

Coates says that officials have struggled to put together venues, additional infrastructure and procedures required to handle the hundreds of thousands of spectators visiting the city. While preparation was underway in 2014, the IOC official expressed concerns that the city was “not ready in many, many ways.”

This isn't the first technical gaffe that's put emergency medical services in the public eye at the Summer Games — just last Saturday, footage surfaced of a stretcher holding an injured gymnast being dropped on the way to the ambulance.

“It’s still difficult,’’ Coates told The Daily Telegraph. “Luckily it was an achillies and not concussion.’’

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