TO SAY that the 10 athletes in the Refugee Olympic Team (ROT) aren’t used to grand welcomes, would be an understatement. But as they waded into the village on Wednesday, it wasn’t just the routine welcoming party armed with samba dancers and drummers doing their bit. There were hundreds of athletes from around the world, who unlike swimmer Rami Anis and runner James Chiengjiek have the privilege of representing their home countries, who had gathered to cheer for them. Anis, who originally hails from Syria, made the most of it too recording the entire ceremony on his phone before showing off his own samba moves. The group included swimmer Yasra Mardini, who’s earned worldwide renown for having saved 20 refugees from drowning in the Mediterannean. Their historic entry was followed by the flag-raising ceremony as the ROT athletes, who have all fled their conflict-riddled homes, huddled under the Olympic flag.
Bolt checks in
IT’S NOT like he doesn’t turn heads otherwise, but still Usain Bolt loves to make impact appearances, as much as he does running the 100m in the split of a few seconds. This time, the ultimate showman chose to don the role of a cameraman and instead give his fellow Jamaicans a chance to shine under the spotlight as they checked in. But it was still Bolt who stole the show as he went about interviewing his compatriots, and even asked competitor Yohan Blake about his chances against the champion. Bolt not suprisingly will be the only Jamaican to get his own room in the village. We know he’s earned it.
‘Minimalistic, chic’ yet cosy, says Airbnb listing
Traveling to Rio and desperate for last-minute accommodation? Why not check out the ‘Rio Olympic Village’. It just costs you AUD 104. And the ‘cosy’ rooms have bedding that ‘meet the 1949 Geneva Convention norms’ while your living room is ‘adorned by the romantic crackle of live wires’.
That is according to an official listing on Airbnb, the universal vacation home online portal, which describes the 10-bedroom apartment as ‘minimalistic, incomplete and chic’ with 7 beds and 0.5 bathroom but good enough to hold 16+ guests. The neighbourhood is said to have a 50m Olympic swimming pool, which you are advised to use with your mouth closed and a world-class gymnasium which is made from material ‘desperately required by the nearest favela’.
The house rules are pretty candid too and range from no Russians being allowed to shower curtains expected to be hand-stitched by the guests themselves along with a daily provision of ‘clean urine’.
The Union Jack colonises Rio
IF A plumber wasn’t enough, the accesory and furniture list of homegrown products for the British contingent at Rio, which they have carried in 22 shipping containers, goes something like this: 249 sofas, 350 Union Flag cushions, 121 Ikea kettles, 72 Union Flag deck-chairs and 5500 PG Tips tea bags. Not to forget the large bottles of hand sanitisers with stickers that read, “Germs cost medals”. They also have shipped in Union Flag doormats and a mascot soft-toy for each bed in their block.
The Brits are known to be a tad pedantic. But they don’t just seem keen on feeling at home in Rio, it’s like they want to turn it into their homes.
And for now, the massive contingent that includes 366 athletes and 467 non-playing staff–though the likes of Andy Murray won’t be staying in the village–seem very comfortable mingling with their own lot, playing cards or Mario Kart on Playstation while some have spent most of their off time with their colouring books. The swimming team on the other hand organized their own quiz night.
When the stars aligned
DESPITE BEING the most celebrated Olympian of his time, swimming legend Michael Phelps has been known to put a high price on his privacy when inside the village. Unlike tennis sensation Novak Djokovic, who is renowned for his extrovertness. But when the two accidentally bumped into each other, it was Phelps who extended the first greeting leading to the two megastars posing for an indulgent selfie.