THE HERALD FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 02 2016
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West Wales media consultant Robert
Lloyd is spending time in Rio de Janeiro volunteering at the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics. He will be reporting exclusively for The Herald newspaper series on his adventures.
This is a very much an ‘in between’
week for Olympics and Paralympics volunteers. About 200 ‘Brits’ are staying over
from the Olympics to help with the Paralympics. Another 500 or so are arriving at the
airport, as I write, to swell the ranks of the so-called ‘Rio Souls’. Our work on the Paralympics has
started – training days and the first bits of ‘system testing’ to get everything running smoothly for the athletes who are arriving now for the start of the Games in the middle of next week. My job in the ‘Paras’ is different to
my technology role in the Olympics. I will be based at the Olympic and Paralympic Village in Barra and my job will involve making sure the athletes have everything they need as they prepare for their competitions. The ‘gear change’ between Olympics
and Paralympics has freed up some time. It’s not been all work and I’ve finally managed to get some sight-seeing in. Next week, I’ll bring you up to speed
with all that’s happening with the ‘Paras’, but, for now, here’s my A to Z guide to Rio . . .
A Athletes: In total, around 4,350
athletes from more than 160 countries will travel to Rio. Supporting these athletes will be about 3,000 team officials, many of whom will also be staying in the village, alongside referees, judges and other sports personnel. The village is located in Barra da Tijuca in western Rio, near Barra Olympic Park. Among the first athletes to move into the village yesterday were those in the delegations of home nation Brazil, plus the USA, Cuba, Canada, Denmark, Namibia, Great Britain and the Netherlands. On Wednesday alone, 2,500 people will be settling into their new homes – plus a few guide dogs for visually impaired athletes. In the days since the ending of the Olympics on August 21, a series of changes have been made to the village to adapt the huge complex to the needs of Paralympian athletes. Although all the buildings in the village were designed to high standards of accessibility to provide more space for wheelchair users, beds have been taken out of some of the double rooms, and chairs have been removed from the giant canteen. There are 31 buildings at the site and all have units adapted for people with an impairment or with reduced mobility. The doors are wider, showers taller and corridors larger, and the lifts have room
for two wheelchairs at a time. During the transition period since the Olympic Games, healthcare company Ottobock, the official prosthetic and orthotic service provider for the Paralympic Games, has also installed a specialist repair centre in the village. In total, more than 9,000 people, including 2,000 volunteers, will be working at the village for the duration of the ‘Paras’.
B Barra Olympic Park: The Barra
Olympic Park is the main centre in Rio for Olympic and Paralympic events. With events space covering 1.18 million square metres, the park will host nine Paralympic sports. The main Barra venues are - Carioca Arena 1: basketball,
wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby (capacity: 16,000) Carioca Arena 2: wrestling, judo and boccia (capacity: 10,000) Carioca Arena 3: fencing, taekwondo,
paralympic judo and paralympic fencing (capacity: 10,000) Future Arena: handball and goalball (capacity: 12,000) Maria Lenk Aquatics Center: diving,
synchronised swimming, water polo (capacity: 5,000) Olympic Aquatics Stadium:
swimming, water polo play-offs and paralympic swimming (capacity: 15,000) Olympic Tennis Centre: tennis,
wheelchair tennis and football 5-a-side (capacity: 10,000 Main Court) Rio Olympic Arena: gymnastics and wheelchair basketball (capacity: 12,000) Rio Olympic Velodrome: track cycling (capacity: 5,000). Currently, for the Paralympics, the
organisers expect to use 21 different arenas in the Rio de Janeiro area. Competition takes place for medals in 23 Paralympic sports. The opening and
closing ceremonies for the ‘Paras’ will be held at the world-famous 80,000-capacity Maracana Stadium.
C Cariocas: It’s the term used to
describe someone who was born in or comes from Rio. According to linguists, the term Carioca is not derived from the word Rio, as in ca’rio’ca. It is actually a Tupi Indian term (kara’i oca), roughly meaning ‘white houses’. That’s what they called the houses built by the Portuguese. Some will tell you that you don’t have to be born in Rio to be a Carioca. All you have to do is relax into the city lifestyle, and soon you will become one. It’s a badge of honour for us ‘Gringos’ to be told, ‘You, Carioca.’ One of the most important things to remember about the local Cariocas is that time is a flexible concept. Unless you are talking business meetings, half an hour late means perfectly on time.
D Dance: The Brazilians love a party.
And they love Samba, which is both a form of music and a dance. Now that I have tried it – and managed to keep both hips from dislocating – it will be hard to resist requests from Mrs Lloyd to attend Samba classes when I get home!
E The economy: It’s been something
of a roller-coaster ride for the Brazilian economy. When Brazil won the right to stage the Olympics, everything was looking good. Now, it’s all political turmoil, corruption scandals, job cuts. The unemployment rate in Brazil is expected to be 11.70 percent by the end of this quarter. The inflation rate is expected to be 8.50 percent by the end of this quarter, The Brazilian economy shrank 0.3 percent on the quarter in the
first three months of 2016, following a downwardly revised 1.3 percent contraction in the previous period. In the middle class suburbs, people are worried about redundancies. My landlady works in the electricity industry. She visits local firms every week and she reports regular news of redundancies and cuts everywhere. Her husband works in accounting, but, realising that may not be a long-term option, he is embarking on a five-year ‘night school’ class in law. On the streets, the Brazilians must be one of the most entrepreneurial people on the planet. There are street stalls on every corner and hawkers everywhere willing to sell you everything you can imagine.
F Favelas: The first favelas appeared
in the late 19th century and were built by soldiers who had nowhere to live. Today, the term is used to describe any general slum area in urban parts of Brazil. People from deprived area of Brazil – such as the north-east – flock to Rio in the hope of a better life. The shanties, constructed from everything from cardboard, wood, corrugated iron and breeze blocks, are frequently stacked one on top of other like Lego blocks. Sanitation is poor. Electricity supplies are frequently stolen by so-called Cats, illegal lines from powerlines. The most notorious favela in Rio is Rocinha – a place where the soundtrack to the evening is punctuated by gunfire. Other favelas have been ‘pacified’ and are usually safe to visit, provided you are accompanied by a local. I visited a couple. The people are always friendly, courteous and polite, but the poverty is shocking.
G Girl from Ipanema. The song
composed by the composer Antonio Carlos Jobim and the poet Vinícius de
Moraes, drinking buddies at an Ipanema bar. It’s one of the most recorded songs of all time – after The Beatles classic Yesterday. Who could forget Brazilian supermodel Gisele ‘catwalking’ her way across the floor of the Maracana during the Olympics opening ceremony?
H H Stern: This is the world famous
jeweller. The firm has shops throughout Rio and gem workshop in Ipanema where you get the chance to see rough stones cuts into fabulous jewels. The tour is free – the gems bordering on priceless!
I Impeachment: Dilma Rousseff is
a ‘hard-as-nails’ Brazilian economist and politician who served as the 36th President of Brazil from 2011 until her impeachment and removal from office just this week. She is the first woman to have held that office. The TV courage of the impeachment process has been extensive. On Monday, Rousseff gave her own lengthy ‘explanation’ to Senators, followed by a question and answer session. It lasted from about 9am until 4am the following morning. Compulsive viewing – even when you can’t understand the language that well!
J Janeiro: Rio de Janiero (River of
January) was given its name by the explorer Amerigo Vespucci, who sailed with a mission led by Goncalo Coelho in January, 1502. Just in case you need to know for any future pub quiz!
K Killings: Murder rates are high in
Rio, but not as high in more deprived north-east areas of the country. The statistics show crime rates are surging in Rio—especially in the favelas controlled
Sugarloaf mountain: Check out that view!
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