At every Olympics, some volunteers get the opportunity to attend the full dress rehearsal for the opening ceremony free of charge as a thank you for donating their time.
Rio was no different.
We all received an email – although some of us received it days after the first ones were sent out and Bryan logged onto his Volunteer Portal straightaway and was lucky enough to get one of 2,000 tickets available. We also heard from some of our other volunteer friends to say they had been lucky too.
But Jody wasn’t 🙁
But then 2 days before the ceremony, Rio sent out more emails saying they were adding another 1,00 tickets into the draw.
This time Jody wasn’t going to miss out and thankfully, 2 hours after entering, she also received an email saying she had got a ticket. Yeahhhhy! 🙂
So the very next day was ticket collection day and we set off up to the Maracanã Stadium and queued for our tickets. In the queue we bumped into our friend Benjy whom we met on our first group get-together and we met more UK volunteers who were on the UK Volunteers going to Rio Facebook page.
So tickets in hand, Sunday afternoon, 6 of us gathered at our favourite ‘pay-by-weight’ restaurant 686 Gourmet for a pre-ceremony lunch. We didn’t know if any food was going to be available inside and we wanted to stock up!
As it turns out, Ariana and her mum had made a huge batch of chocolate brownies but then we read the ticket which said ‘no unsealed food’ would be allowed inside the area and it seemed such a waste of such a lovely treat. So there and then we vowed to eat them all before we went in. We just needed our lunch to go down first which was going to take a while as we were stuffed. How many 100s of grams Emma V?.
It was a hot sunny day and as we arrived at Maracanã very early. There were no queues despite 46,000 people being due to arrive, so we found a shady patch of concrete and sat down together to eat Ariana’s brownies. There was no way we were going to allow security to confiscate those – they were much too yummy!
Eventually it was time to go in. Emma V had a seat on her own somewhere but Benjy and Pam (the lady we met in the queue) were right next to us. Ariana and her mum were also in a different section so we all split off and arranged to meet back up afterwards for the trip home.
Once in our seats, we realised what a fantastic view we had. Right at the end facing the backdrop of the favelas and with the mountains peeking up over the roof in front of us. Perfect!
The show got underway and we were a little baffled by some of it but Benjy is a fluent Portuguese speaker and filled in the missing information for us which helped it all make sense. The area was pretty empty though – just a great white floor space and no scenery or props were visible at all except the favela buildings at the back. Curious.
V had now joined us too as there were loads of empty seats around us and it seemed sad to think of here sitting down there all on her own. We texted her and she found us up in the 2nd level.
We are not sure if she traded in a better seat to sit with us though as she had been lower – much closer to the action before she moved.
The show got underway and was really good. The white floor space revealed it’s purpose as a large blank screen and the show included some great lighting effects projected on to it all the way through. The best bit though, was when we were watching a section where squares were projected onto the plain white floor. It didn’t really have any impact on us until Benjy shouted out – “look at the screens”.
We looked up to one of the large screens placed all around the top of the arena and it was amazing. The shapes on the floor had become 3D buildings and the people running and jumping around on the floor now appeared to be leaping from one building to the next. Brilliant!
For the Athletes parade – probably the most exciting bit if you are an athlete but one of the most boring bits to watch if not – the organisers emptied one section of the arena of it’s spectators. They were taken back stage and asked to parade behind the flags as pretend athletes. How cool was that?
We found out later that Ariana and her mum had been in this section and got to walk out with the Union Jack and the Brasilian flag. They were both so thrilled and were were thrilled for them too. What a memory for them.
One of the things they like to keep you guessing about is how the olympic rings will be displayed. We all remember that iconic moment from London 2012 when the rings suspended over the stadium were lit up in a shower of fire – it was spectacular.
As we write this it is still a secret and we won’t be publishing this entry until after the event has taken place – we don’t want to give anything away.
The unveiling of the olympic rings here in Rio certainly won’t beat London for the spectacular but lets just say it was perfect for Brasil. Again though, watching it from the ground was comical – it was definitely a “look at the screen” moment for sure.
We got to see every Brasilian iconic thing displayed during the ceremony – from the jungle and the animals and birds there, the girl from Ipanema, Carnival, the favelas, the beaches and the music culture. We had the indian natives represented and the modern developments. It was all there.
Or was it?
The whole event was brilliant but there was a distinct lack of anything football related during the ceremony. The Brasilian passion for the game is famous world-wide so why wasn’t it included in the ceremony?
Which still keeps us guessing as the week goes on – how are they going to light the flame. As we write this – days after the rehearsal, we are sitting here trying to guess if Pele is going to come out and kick a football into something which will ignite.
Well whatever they decide to do, it had been a great night out and it hadn’t cost us a penny either. We felt like we had attended the actual opening ceremony itself as we got to see everything except the Olympic flame which they always keep as a big secret until the unveiling for the fee paying spectators. They had even set off a firework display – probably more to make sure they work rather than to give us a firework display. But that didn’t matter we loved it all.
The grand ceremony for real is in just 5 days time and this time, we shall be watching it from the beach on a big screen with all our new volunteer friends on Copacabana. As long as they get the screens up in time that is – still no sign of them yet….!