Looking back on the Rio Olympics
Published on August 13th, 2020
Four years ago, Scuttlebutt editor Craig Leweck was in Brazil to report on the Rio 2016 Olympics. With the Tokyo 2020 Games postponed until 2021, we keep that Olympic Flame alive through Leweck’s observations from the Carioca nation… here was his ninth report:
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (August 14, 2016) – My Rio experience at the Olympic Games began when my morning commute from the hotel to the sailing venue took to the walking path along Flamengo Beach. I had to see more than the windows of my transport allowed, and there’s no better way than to mix amid the locals.
With expansive Guanabara Bay to my right and sloping hills that greet Christ the Redeemer to my left, trust me, I was not suffering.
The path divides the beach from the park, and even at 8:30am, it is a lively time. Along my 25 minute transit, exercise camps are active, even spotting the Danish Sailing Team getting ready for the racing. I see other competitors on a morning run alongside the locals. While it was too early for beach goers, there was no shortage of sights.
The ticketed viewing area for Sailing soon interrupts the path, requiring a slight detour around it. I hear this is where the monkeys can be found, though I have yet to witness them. So far it’s just been yellow birds, viney trees, and a skateboard park, but I will keep looking.
Soon the Sailing venue – Marina da Gloria – comes in view, or I should say, the entrance queue. This is where security begins. Think airport TSA without the frisking. The line can get long. I brought an umbrella on a rainy morning but we moved right through. If we arrive after a shuttle unloads, patience is required.
Nobody gets in the venue without accreditation, and I got to say, it is pretty cool getting into the venue.
I have a son that just graduated from university and is now working for the San Diego Padres, a professional baseball team in the U.S. Every day he goes to the stadium, working for a team he has always cheered for and a sport that is his passion. He’s not sure if the excitement of going to work will ever abate, and as I spend time at the Sailing venue, I have the same feeling.
I haven’t been to other Olympic Sailing venues, but this one is pretty cool. You get through the queue, walk up sixteen steps and reach an open level above temporarily vacated commercial space, with the view overlooking the launch ramps, boat park, and marina. The flurry of activity below is that of dreams, sacrifices, effort, and accomplishment. It is a gripping view.
The venue is expansive, wrapping around the marina to the measurement area in one direction, and the beach launch zone in another. This is where the Nacra 17 and RS: X fleets are based. So appropriate for these classes to be on the sand and surf, with grass and trees for rest. I particularly like the tent and rigging area for the windsurfers. These people are long, lean, and lovely… the beach volleyball players of our sport.
Then there is the container zone, that area where teams can really set themselves apart. If you weren’t sure which are the better funded teams, a walk through this area is a big tell.
Forty-foot boxes, at their very basic level, are workshops and storage. Bring in the designers and you have interior paneling, air conditioning, televisions, meeting furniture, exercise and office equipment. Some have fancy doors, like real doors, not steel container doors. The Brazilian team, with the best location overlooking the Bay, is alone with exterior paneling. Very fly.
There is much more, like the ‘Athlete Only’ lounge for food, the ‘Mixed Zone’ to corral the media, and the ever present armed forces. It is now normal for me to stand aside heavy weaponry as I use the urinal. All the stuff needed for the broadcast stretches far. There can be a lot of walking each day, but every step takes me past the magic of the Games. I welcome each one.
When the Games end, I will miss it all, and will understand a bit better why my son loves going to work each day. We should all be so lucky.
Racing was staggered among the 10 events from August 8 to 19.