Rio2016 reviewed

2016_Summer_Olympics_logo.svgOn Sunday 21 August 2016 the 31st edition of the Summer Olympics will come to an end and there would be pundits everywhere seeking anxiously to engage in precisely the type of analysis being undertaken here.
What can we say about the Games themselves?
In arguing the case for development in any country academic point to food, clothing, shelter, health and education as the basic needs of the population.
In the case of the Olympic Games there is not much difference. The Games are, first and foremost about the athletes. It is therefore extremely important that they are appropriately catered for.
The success of any edition of the Olympic Games relies heavily on accommodation, food, transportation and sport facilities for training and competition. Once these fundamental requirements are adequately satisfied then the rest will almost always take care of itself.
The Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro is a private undertaking. It is an undertaking by a private entrepreneur aimed at upper middle class housing for sale after the conclusion of the Games.
The concept of several high-rise condominiums was excellent and in the early preparatory phase, including when the Chefs Seminar was held one year prior to the commencement of the Games, the progress seemed good.
Unfortunately, in the last several months before the Games problems emerged and it appears that there may have been issues with meeting the remuneration of the workers on the project. This inevitably led to some major challenges, not the least of which was outright sabotage. In some cases concrete was poured into toilets, wiring was cut and left straying about the buildings, plumbing was tampered with, and the list goes on.
Not surprisingly therefore early arrivants found themselves located in accommodation facilities that were not yet ready to welcome them. More work was needed. The complaints of the delegations that made it to the international media were not exaggerated. There were major issues.
Ultimately, the Organising Committee was able to procure maintenance crews to address the identified problems. These crews were available throughout the Games as problems continued to surface from time to time.
That the number of beds were adequate meant that every delegation was able to accommodate the team members adequately, offering athletes the opportunity they needed to rest well to give of their best during competition.
There was an abundance of food all around the Games. There could not be complaints about the availability of food and the quantity, especially at the Games Village.
The issue may well have been the fact that there were many concerns expressed by delegations regarding the variety and quality of the food that was available in abundance.
In the Games Village it appears that McDonalds was again extremely popular. This has been the case for several years since the enterprise joined the Olympic family. This remains something of an anomaly since athletes are supposed to work consistently to resist the temptation o f all prey to fast foods.
At the beginning of the Games transportation proved to be one of the biggest challenges.
As has been the case in the past several editions of the Games, except perhaps Beijing, many of the drivers contracted for the Games were not familiar with the routes to and from the different venues. This resulted in difficulties in reaching training and competition venues for the first week.
There was no shortage of vehicles to do the transportation and so this helped.
The decision to facilitate Olympic lanes for vehicles involved with the Games proved invaluable.
Sport facilities
Despite many of the media reports the training and competition venues were adequate. Evidence of their status was readily reflected in the achievements of the athlete sin the several competitions.
Athletes thrive on the support received from crowds in attendance at their competitions.
In the case of Rio this was a major problem and proved a disappointment to the athletes, organisers and the IOC.
Ticket sales were certainly not as robust as some appeared eager to declare in advance of the start of the Games.
Brazil is football country yet during the Games the sport competition received mixed support. The matches involving Brazil were well attended except when at one point in the preliminaries it appeared that the men’s team would not make it through to the next round.
Volleyball, another popular sport in Brazil, was well attended when the host country was involved in the competition. In this regard however, attendance at Beach Volleyball may well have been better, percentage wise than was the case with the Indoor variety.
Swimming got good crowds at the finals rather than at the preliminaries. Of course the fact that Brazil had a significant number of swimmers made the difference here.
One would have expected significantly larger crowds in attendance at athletics but this was not the case. The morning sessions were significantly undersubscribed.
The best crowds at the athletics were on the evening that the 100m Men’s Final took place. Yet even then the stadium was well below capacity in terms of attendees.
Interestingly, despite the problems raised by the international media about Rio several arrests were made by police regarding persons found scalping tickets, an indication that it may well have been difficult for some people to find the tickets they needed at any particular time.
If there is one aspect of the crowds that soured things somewhat at the Rio Games it was the despicable display of unfriendly competition at the athletics on the evening of the Men’s Pole Vault Final.
With the French athlete leading throughout the event he finally faltered at 6.03m, Olympic record height. The Brazilian athlete, Da Silva, was successful at the height on his second attempt, leaving the Frenchman in more than a spot of bother for the very first time in the competition.
When the French athlete started his run up in his third and final attempt the Brazilian crowd in attendance showered him with incessant boos that must have had a very negative impact on the young man.
The despicable behaviour of the partisan crowd resurfaced the follow day when the awards were being presented, leaving the Frenchman in tears on the podium.
IOC President and others have since publicly criticised the conduct of the Brazilians at an edition of the Olympic Games that had come through so many difficulties to a very successful realisation.
Brazilian security forces were everywhere evident but never intrusive. It was enough for all to know that they were there.
While there were a few incidents it was clear that enough work had been done on this aspect of the Games preparation and delivery to allay the fears of those in attendance.
The international sporting community is now well aware that the standards are shifting.
It is also clear that some countries have gone into investing in athletes from other countries enticing them to change nationalities for sporting purposes and global recognition through sport. In the 100m Men’s final, for example, while there were three Jamaican athletes representing Jamaica, there were another three representing other countries, having changed nationality in return for a more lucrative career and significantly enhanced life chances.
The number of world records established at the Rio Olympics speaks volumes of the level of preparation of the athletes, the excellent nature of the majority of the sport facilities for competition and the determination of the athletes to give of their best at the world’s greatest quadrennial sporting spectacle.
That a Puerto Rican emerged the Women’s Singles champion in Tennis is an awesome achievement but also highlights the fact that the medal spread extends now well beyond the significant few countries that dominated the early editions of the modern Olympics.
Generally, the Games of 2016 will be indelibly recognised as one that witnessed a flurry of outstanding performances. There are many names that have come through the previous two editions of the Games, most notably, Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps. Others have etched their names following London 2012 while yet more have entered the records for the very first time.