News reports across the country are delivering stories of how “dangerous,” “dirty” and “deplorable” the conditions of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro are. But are they really as bad as everyone is saying? Was Brazil, the first host country in South America, not ready for the world to watch? Or do tourists just have unattainable expectations? With the Olympic Games now in full swing, the party is just getting started.
“We only made the last 15 minutes,” Treacy said. “And it was his brother playing.”
Zara Treacy and Jonathan Ames of Great Britain found themselves stuck in a taxi in the middle of Rio, missing their event. Ames’ brother David is a member of the Great Britain field-hockey team.
“We thought we were going to die in a taxi,” Treacy said. “You need to allow four hours before getting to any of the events.”
Due to lack of communication and organization, Ames almost missed his brother’s entire game. His mother, Carole Hodgett, had the same scenario happen to her the previous day.
“From the last games that we were at in London, it’s a totally different setup,” Ames said. “It seems like everything is really badly organized. You’re fending for yourself in all aspects.”
“They just come out in fours, the robbers,” Anderson said. “They stop all the cars and they rob people car by car.”
Kyle Anderson of Long Beach, California, is at the Olympic Games watching friends of his who play on the USA Rugby team. His friends and he encountered a scary situation while returning to their hotel after a match. It’s called an “arrastão.” It’s when people in groups of four rob multiple people in a small area at one time. It happens in the street and on the beaches.
“There was a woman we saw running against the flow of pedestrian traffic with her baby, like frantically running back,” Anderson said.
Safety hasn’t been an issue for everybody though.
“I feel safer now than I ever have, so it’s kind of rad because I was hoping it would be like this — to feel safe,” Patterson said.
USA men’s beach volleyball player Casey Patterson said he feels totally safe here. Patterson and his teammates initially stayed in the Olympic Village but have since moved to a hotel closer to their venue. Patterson says it has all been awesome and no problems have arisen.
With reports of contaminated water scattering around the Internet, Patterson said he has also had no problems with food.
“You have to know what to eat and what not to eat. I blame whoever gets sick on that person,” Patterson said. “I just eat rice, beans and meat, and I drink bottled water, and you won’t get sick.”
“It’s been exceptionally really. It’s felt really safe. I think part of that is because we stayed in a nicer area,” Chris Beauregard of Washington D.C. said.
Beauregard is staying in Leblon, a neighborhood next to Ipanema beach.
“There was no food on Monday,” Colle said.
Thomas Colle of Ireland said the Olympic venues were not ready on the first day of the Games. He said there was no food being sold at some of the venues. He also noted that the consistency of rules at the venues made no sense at all.
“In some places, you weren’t allowed to pay with cash, and in some places, you weren’t allowed to use cards,” Colle said.
Anderson also noted that the food was just plain “awful.” But, the food was only awful if you got it, though … Many venues ran out of food.
“One minute, you’re allowed to come in with water [and] food. The next minute, they’re not allowing water and food, and they’re taking Deet and suntan lotion. “Someone should look at the bigger picture here,” he said.
Beauregard said the events have been great for him so far.
“The events — for the most part — have kind of exceeded expectations. I guess part of that might be because expectations weren’t really that high to begin with,” Beaugard said. “But I’ve been pleasantly surprised.”
“I’ve been getting a chance to practice my English and a little bit of Spanish,” Meneges said.
Joás Victor Byone Meneges stands outside of the Copacabana metro stop on the corner of Praça Cardeal Arcoverde helping tourists find their way to the Olympic Mega Store and Beach Volleyball venue. The 22-year old is one of nearly 90,000 employees putting on the Olympic Games.
Meneges, a native of Rio, is part of the events team and answers any questions people may have about where to go. He said most of the local people in Rio have changed their mindset towards the Olympic Games, which was once very sour.
“After it started, it like changed everything. People are cheering and are so excited,” Meneges said. “I thought that people would complain more, but I think that people got into the spirit.”
With the Olympic Games now in full swing, the world is watching Rio closer than ever.
“To be fair to the Brazilians, they’ve put on one hell of a party. Many of the people we’ve dealt with are absolutely fantastic,” Colle said. “But there is a bit of a bitter aftertaste.”
Elizabeth Wyman is a Ball State University student and writer for BSU at the Games, a group of50 journalism students traveling from Muncie, Indiana, to Rio for the Olympic Games. Follow them at bsuatthegames.com, @bsuatthegames on Twitter and Instagram, and BSU at the Games on Facebook