Almanac Olympics: What you don’t see on TV

There are many moments that are not captured on a Ch 7 broadcast, ok there is very little captured in the Ch 7 streaming or broadcast. The Olympic Games is an event for Television, everything you see at events indicates this. For example a victory ceremony at the Fencing I witnessed the backs of the athletes were facing the spectators and family but directly in front of the media and TV cameras, you get the picture.


It is impossible to capture the true flavor or essence of the global watering hole on TV and what the media reports appears to be based around success or negative stories. When a friend arrived in Rio recently and asked about security and the dangers, my comment was the safest place to be is nowhere near the media pack, it seems all the bad things are happening around them.


I have caught buses late at night, yes the same buses that journalists fear to catch, I have travelled through favelas, endured the lonely walk home from Olympic Park to a not so attractive neighborhood, been lost in dark streets, stranded on bus terminals and have not encountered, touch wood, any sense of danger. I suppose this is what journeys are made of and the Olympics certainly creates its own unique set of experiences.


Watching the Olympics is a sport in itself

What no-one prepares you for when going to watch an Olympics is how much training you have to do. Months and months of walking and waiting will get you in prime condition as you will be required to call upon all your reserves.


Deodoro events are held a 40 minute walk from where the Olympic bus terminal deposits you, then you wait through checkpoints for prohibited items, including water. You can only buy the sponsors product inside. MCG take note.


The main Olympic Park is a solid 20 minute walk from Olympic Terminus, again you are directed to walk further in order to get through allocated screening aisles and then again to have your ticket scanned and then again when you enter the respective Stadium.


Inside the venue, to buy an overpriced water you need to pay for the item, receive a ticket and then go to another person with said ticket, wait while they work out what you purchased and then provide your water. Then they will take the cap off and throw it away, why? Perhaps when you spill it everywhere you have to come back and get another, or those caps make for hostile projectiles. For whatever reason your man in Rio decided to bring his own disused water cap into the stadium and foiled their plans.


Olympic Spirit

The Brazilians are vocal supporters. Especially when their team is playing and bad luck if you are against them. The locals turn up in Brazilian Football jumpers, Rio Olympic merchandise, just about all the local Brazilians are wearing clothing of support. Does it matter that they don’t know the rules of some of these foreign sports? No. They will boo, cheer, get rowdy and vociferous if they don’t like something and that goes for any team they happen to be supporting. Yes, they will support the underdog and against any bad sports, Russians included. Then they will change the support depending on how the contest is going.


People watching is another exclusive Olympic sport.


Road Cycling – but for a fleeting moment they passed me by

The first week of my Olympics was spent in the beautiful area of Barra de Tijuca, in Pepe Beach, where the Brazilian leg of the World Pro Surfing is held. This spot reminds me a great deal of Bondi, great beach, lots of cafes, Restaurants and the beautiful people pass me by.


It was also featured in the Cycling Road Race, Men’s and Women’s. I know this because I heard the helicopters circling, of course there were no signs indicating something of significance was about to happen. I waited behind a barricade for 40 minutes watching the helicopters in the distance and observing the locals wanting to get to the beach on a hot day being restricted by these metal barriers. They didn’t understand the Olympic Road race was about to pass by, they wanted to get to the beach.


I waited and waited and suddenly the procession of police, cars and then cyclists flashed past, followed by a train of support vehicles. That was the Road race, over in a minute, all was ok, the barriers were removed and beach life resumed.


Babel Fish – lost in translation

In Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Arthur Dent inserted a babel fish in his ear to instantly understand any language. In Rio, very little English is spoken and when you find a person with some understanding of what you are trying to say, the meaning is often lost in translation.


I wish I had a babel fish.


Countless times I have referred to my trusty translator, Google and exchanged texts to translate for me. I caught a taxi down from Christ Redeemer, not something you should do and was taken a very long way away from where I wanted to go, then was caught in traffic, a common event, however the meter was showing twice what I paid earlier and I was still a long way from my destination. Enter Google. I typed in uppercase, that the best thing for the driver was to turn off the meter, settle on a fixed rate and let’s not both stress. Of course this was not exactly word for word but you get the gist. Thank you google and lucky I had my mobile travel pack that allowed data roaming otherwise it would have been an expensive trip.


Google translator, don’t go to Rio without it, Obrigado!


Motor Police and the open road

One of the few benefits for Rio as a consequence of the Olympics are the new roads. Out near the Olympic Park and towards Deodoro Park are magnificent wide open roads with no traffic, tunnels, all the way to the Military district. These roads are not yet available for locals to drive on, not until September 28th and then they will be tolled.


In the meantime, police escorts and military motorbikes are loving it. Open road, full throttle on their Harley’s whooping it up. It is a sight to behold and I suppose some compensation for their poor remuneration.


An Olympic Collection

No Olympics would be complete without the compulsory collector’s piece. The games are no different and befitting the global watering hole, beer cups have become the new must have collection. Each cup indicates a different sport and many Europeans are going for the entire collection. It is not uncommon to see spectators with Denmark, Belgium or Dutch flags holding tall stacks from the day’s events.


To date I have been poor in my selections, looking for someone to trade doubles and triples. Too many weightlifting cups.


Why do Officials walk in front of Athletes?

A final note. I watched the Opening Ceremony and couldn’t help notice the old dudes and dudettes at the front with the flag bearer. There they were jumping, taking selfies, having a hoot. Please, enjoy the moment but let the athletes have the glory. Yes, there is an oath of Officials, they are very much a part of the games, you can’t have competition without them, but we want to watch the athletes, not the Officials.


The Track Cycling starts today and I will be leaving Rio on Saturday, my work is done.


This has been my Olympic Odyssey, a journey that has taken three years. With this journey I have been enriched and fortunate to witness an Olympic preparation from a personal perspective.


The Men’s Team Pursuit may or may not win Gold, it would be a terrific end to my story but they say life is not about the destination but the journey.


Lookout Tokyo 2020.

About David Parker

A keen observer of all things sport and a Swans tragic, David likes to dabble in sporting documentaries including the Max Bailey doco for Fox Footy. David is currently filming a documentary on the Australian Cycling Men's Team Pursuit squad as they prepare for the 2016 Rio Olympics.


  1. Yvette Wroby says

    Wonderful journeying David. Its been a pleasure to read your stories. I will meet with you in Tokyo 2020 all being well. I love the stories in the background, they are usually so much more interesting, as you have shown.

  2. Thanks Yvette, I think we should organise an Almanac delegation for Tokyo 2020.

  3. Great update and frankly speaking, it leaves CH7 for dead. Lots more to talk about than the negative, headline grabbing stuff that is being thrown at us.

    Good luck with the Men’s pursuit and whatever happens from this point on the track, the story must be told off it. I look forward to you telling it.

  4. ned_wilson says

    Great stuff David. Fingers crossed for tomorrow!

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    Fantastic David, great insights!

  6. jan courtin says

    So pleased the trip was a worthwhile experience Dave. Have really enjoyed your journey.
    Go Bloods!

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