Rio 2016 Diary: The circus is in town

Off The Ball's Richie McCormack is our man on the ground in Rio...

Rio de Janeiro, Olympics, Rio 2016,

Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

As I make my way to the Maracanã stadium for the opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games, and despite protestations that the cost is well below Beijing or London, you can see how badly the money may have been needed elsewhere.

With London, there was talk of legacy, and on the bus you wonder what that would be in the case of Rio de Janeiro. None of these people are ever likely to have access to the pristine venues, and are even less likely to experience an improvement in their living conditions as a result of the Games. 

The opening ceremony was a joyous occasion, a celebration of the country's history and culture, again with the emphasis that it had cost far less than previous editions. As the party inside the stadium was all happy faces and dancing people, it was hard to escape the sensation that Rio has simply plastered a broad clown smile onto a frowning face.

After taking in the atmosphere in the less than glamorous surrounds of the Maracanã, I decided to head back to my apartment. In the car, the Uber driver is a guy from a humble part of the city, and says that he's a pretty average guy who grew up just two doors down from Jose Aldo.

He also tells me that the organisation to date has been haphazard at best; the city's Governor ordered two days of impromptu holidays because Wednesday's traffic had been so hideous, with two hours of tailbacks bringing transport in the city grinding to a halt.

I ask him if he's going to any of the games, and he backs up the claims that I've already heard a few times since my arrival; that tickets are priced well out of most people's range. A month's salary, he says, is R$800 (€227), and for two tickets for him and his wife to see USA vs. Serbia, it would have been R$700.

The locals aren't the only ones getting priced out of it during these Games, however, as he passed on the anecdotes of customers who had been taken advantage of, as landlords opportunistically rented out their apartments for inflated prices. In one case, he said that he knew of someone charging two years' worth of rent for a three week stay.

Back in the flat, after avoiding a litany of blocked roads, I sit back and watch the show that Rio puts on for the world, and wonder just why was that Tongan lad was so greasy?