We are in the last week of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and I was lucky enough to receive some tickets from friends to watch some games, which was a different experience from being a volunteer.
Because I read a lot of reports from other people I’ll tell you first about my point of view of how it is to be a spectator. I thought: why not writing my own? It counts, right?
Well, let me tell you a little secret: this is my first time in Rio de Janeiro. Ok, I have lived in a municipality of Rio state before, I’ve passed through Rio, I’ve been to the MAC in Niteroi, but never really stopped to visit to Rio de Janeiro: to stay at the beach in Copacabana, Ipanema, visit the Sugar Loaf and all those beautiful places that everyone already knows about.
So let’s start: there are a lot, but really A LOT of tourist here. Much more than usual and even with all the warnings of not to come because of the risk of getting infected by Zika virus, violence, fear of terrorist attack and everything else… And that was shouted out so loudly in the media that the National Force was called in to protect and be in touristic areas and at the Olympic venues. It is really hard for you to spend more than 5 minutes without seeing three officers with heavy machine guns ready to protect the place. I don’t know if that makes me feel safe or not, but the fact is: everyone seems very chilled and felling safe. Tourists with cameras in their hands and taking pictures all the time now seems natural in the landscape – at least in areas where it is expected tourists to go to.
To go to the games there’s a huge information wall in each subway station so you can find the best way of public transportation for each one of the Olympic complexes, but you may also just follow the crowd!
Moreover, the tourist paths, have enough signs indicating the points and maps of the area within 5 minutes of walking distance and is distributed around downtown.
For those who goes to Olympic Park, you have two ticket options: normal RioCard that you need to take normal BRT to the “Rio 2” stop, or to take the metro line 4, which is exclusive for Olympic RioCard holders (which costs R$ 25.00 for a day ticket and R$ 40.00 for three days) and then take the BRT to the Olympic Center. Both paths are easy to go. As I am a volunteer, I have access to line 4 too, so I ended up using more this route, which seemed to me a bit faster than the other: an hour and a few minutes to get to the city center. (For those that don’t have the Olympic ticket and the day ticket, there is also the light rail option, which is a bus that makes a similar route of the metro line 4, but does not go to the area of the Olympic Park)
Just found it annoying the amount of transfers I had to make: from downtown, you need to get metro line 1 to General Osório, then line 4 to Jardim Oceânico and there get in the BRT to the final stop – then later there is still a good walk to the entrance of the Olympic Park – the good thing is that it is an excuse for doing some exercise ;). The other good thing is that you just need to follow the crowd to get to the park… Seriously, it’s almost a straight line with people of Visit Rio indicating with giant inflatable hands what direction to go on the sidewalk of Avenida Ambassador Abelardo Bueno, there are the event services volunteers – remember, those are green! – Seated in lifeguard chairs – those very high chairs? – cheering the crowd and telling where the entrance is. In fact, not only there, I also saw them in the way to Maracanãzinho. But even being so easy, some people also have asked me for directions to get to the Olympic Park. I don’t know why, maybe just to be sure.
People in green are the ones responsible for informing visitors
To get to Deodoro, who is in the Olympic Park have to take the BRT Olympic Center in the Outeiro direction and get off at Vila Militar, there you just need also to follow the crowd.
And who is close to downtown, you can take the train and get off at the Central Magalhaes Bastos. There are also games at Maracanã, Maracanãzinho and Copacabana, which are as well easier to access by public transport.
Honestly? I have nothing to complain about going to the games by public transportation. Even when there are long queues at BRT Olympic Park they are very fast because whenever a bus is full it leaves and another one enters to be filled as fast as possible. The Olympic Park (and especially Deodoro) is far from the center! You must keep in mind that to get there it will take at least an hour for all transfers from the Olympic park. And there are a lot of people sharing the path to get there with you.
Inside the complex
The entrance to the complex (and in all Olympic venues open to public) are well controlled in terms of safety: sometimes there are big lines because you have to go through the X-ray and metal detector like those airport boring procedures! Then this: liquid above 200ml (twice of what is permitted in airplanes) do not pass – but do not throw away your bottle, can you fill it in again once you are in! – as well as sharp objects, explosives … and what angered me a bit: food has to be industrialized and still closed to be allowed in, just as were bought it! But it is understandable, isn’t it? This way you are “more sure” that what is there is really food, not drugs, right?
And I advise you to take your own snacks! In my opinion, the food inside the complex could be much better. The prices inside are a bit overpriced, I admit!
As Visa is the official partner of the Olympic Games, they do only accept Visa cards or cash as form of payment. So take your Visa card because the queues for payment by Visa are much smaller than for those for cash payments. Oh, and if you forgot your Visa you may also buy a prepaid Visa to put credit on it!
About the lines
I think whenever you have a lot of people together in one place it is expected lines to be formed. And the Olympics is no different: there are queues to get in, to eat and to take the BRT. But I’ll be honest: every time I got in a line, It did not take long! I thought it was very quick!
And depending on the time, you have even to queue to enter the megastore (advice: go early because in the afternoon it is pretty crowded).
About the tickets
There’s tickets from R$ 70.00 for adults and you can buy it on the Internet, tickets shops at the entrance of venues or at other parts of the city. Additionally, you may also find groups on facebook of people that are selling tickets that they won’t use.
To enter the arena, you need to have on hand the ticket to be scanned. In the complex, which has more than one arena it is also necessary to present ticket because the entrance is only for ticket holders. (Not even the volunteers have access to arenas and complex if not specified in their credentials!)
The first two days seem that it has been quite complicated for tourists, but things have improved, at least the organizational part I can say that things are now in place. Of course we have to remember that there are a lot, but a LOT of people, so there will be queues!
Another thing: public transport to see the games is the best option. Even with the metro line 4 closing at 1 am, a BRT is provided to replace it on its route.
For those who live in Rio, some changes in traffic were made and also what ends up upsetting a bit is that and the local population does not have access to line 4. But from what I’ve been seeing with the locals, it seems that there has been major improvements in public transportation I hope that it continues to improve with time.
And what is the take home message for me is that the Olympic Games are in Rio and has arrived making the biggest party ever in Rio de Janeiro. Of course there are some problems, but there will always be problems.