Samba carnival as Rio Olympics end


It’s another night of festival as Rio de Janeiro bids goodbye to thousands of visitors it received in the past three weeks of the 2016 Olympic Games, reports Pius Ayinor from Brazil When the city of Rio de Janeiro got the right to host the 2016 Olympics, it was never smooth running until the opening day. At a point, it looked like the facilities would not be ready; at a point some of the citizens rioted asking that it be cancelled and then the Zika virus popped up and it looked enough reason to postpone or take the event out of Brazil. But against all odds, the Games started and the closing on Sunday (today) is one the Brazilians are eager to hold having proved to the world that they are capable of any major task. Two years ago the Brazilians successfully held the World Cup but it appeared there were still doubts about the ability of the Brazilians to do a good job of hosting the biggest sports festival in the world especially by the Western media. The security, crime situation in the country was always highlighted and then when the Zika virus emerged, the media got more arsenals to attack. “But we did it well, didn’t we?” a volunteer told The PUNCH at the Olympic Park. “It looked challenging by last year as many of the venues were not ready but by this year a lot had changed and now it’s getting over.” Not all Brazilians were excited by the prospects of hosting initially. Up until this year, there were a lot of demonstrations against the event. It was a mix of political and social reasons. Some felt that it was of economic waste to engage in another big event just after the World Cup. It is indeed a big surprise that rioters did not hijack the Games given the pre-tournament analysis. The carnival-like atmosphere all over the place, especially in Rio, swallowed up all the negatives. The hosts, whether happy or resentful, got caught up in the spirit of the Games and it has been party all the way. The closing events, we expect to be a complete demonstration of the fun and party in the past three weeks. Terrorist threat was a big challenge and that marked the way security was arranged. From the opening day until the closing, nobody has been able to cross any line where your ticket or accreditation does not permit. The Olympic Park and other venues were cordoned off to prevent unauthorised vehicles from gaining entry. It appeared the other venues like the Maracana had their tight security relaxed about one week into the Games as a few roads were opened up but that has changed as the entire Maracana Precinct has witnessed serious traffic in the last four days as more roads have been closed. It started from the day the Brazilian ladies faced Sweden in the semi-final of the women’s football event. Since then , everything including accreditation cards were well screened. There were minor incidents of stealing and robbery all through but it appeared the Rio Olympics should not go without incidents and so what is described as the ‘swimmers robbery’ came up. But it has been proven that the American swimmers lied about being robbed and the Brazilians are not finding it funny. According to media reports in Rio, the Brazilian police say Ryan Lochte and three other swimmers who claimed they were robbed had in fact destroyed a gas station toilet and refused to pay for the damage until a security guard waved a gun at them, disclosed. A source with knowledge of the investigation said the four handed over money after the guard at the gas station insisted they pay. The version of events emerged as police in Rio prepared to quiz the taxi driver who picked up the four after they left a nightclub and resume questioning the three swimmers still in Brazil. Lochte had insisted on his version of events that he really was robbed. A witnessed said, “They stopped at a gas station and they were all really drunk. They went to the toilet and damaged it pretty badly. “The security guy saw them and started arguing with them – telling them they had to pay. They refused and argued back. He pointed his gun at them and insisted they pay for the damage – they gave him some money and left.” That incident nearly eclipsed the attention on the closing events as the Brazilians pushed hard to prove that their country was safe to tourists. But without that incident everyone is waiting to see the Samba ladies again as the Copacabana scenes move practically to the Olympic Stadium. The event has been scheduled to start at 8pm local time which is at 12 midnight in Nigeria. It is a show designed to surpass the opening events. And as the Olympics wind up, it will be different takeaways for different persons and groups. Nigerian athletes, for instance, will again be wondering how it all wrong again after similar experience in London. Hosts Brazilian will be proud of their achievements with the venues and their athletes. But in all the story of Simone Biles will be told for a long time. The 19-year-old petit American wowed millions watching via television and the thousands at the Park. Small but perfectly formidable, some experts chorus that she is probably the greatest female gymnast ever. The narrative of her background explains why many are awed by the number of gold medals she picked up in Rio. At home in Columbus, Ohio, her biological mother Shanon insists she is immensely proud of her daughter, but there will surely be regret that Simone’s extraordinary success is something she has absolutely no claim on. In fact, if Simone had grown up anywhere near her mother, her sporting history would be very different now. Instead, she was raised by her grandfather and step-grandmother, the ‘Pop’ and ‘Mom’ she has been blowing kisses to in the stands during the Rio Games. The ‘science’ of Biles’s incredible success is fascinating experts and fans, who hail the 4ft 8in wunderkind as a perfect combination of small size, huge strength and mind-boggling agility. But her history, say those close to her, is equally crucial to understanding her brilliance. Unlike many stars whose abilities are nurtured and encouraged by devoted, ambitious parents, Simone had bleak prospects at birth. She never knew her father, who abandoned the family years earlier, and knew her mother only barely. But in Rio everyone has come to know her. Even reporters who knew very little about gymnastics had to find a way of seeing the brilliance of this young lady. Tonight she will not be the focus as other young talents in dance and choreography guide us through the night. And what is certain is that when it comes to any manner of entertainment, you can’t put Brazilians in second place. Just in case anyone has forgotten, this is place of the famous Rio Carnival. There may be carnivals in Lagos, Abuja and Calabar but not like the Rio Carnival. The birth place and that is part of what they will serve us tonight.

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