Residents try to cash in on Rio 2016 Games they don’t see

In the scruffy streets around the gleaming venue in Rio, local residents are hoping to make a bit of extra money during the Games..

By: Reuters | Rio De Janeiro | Published: August 19, 2016 7:07:48 am
A man carries chairs to be rented to visitors on Copacabana beach Some are selling drinks and snacks from their homes while some are selling beer and other snacks on beaches.

Inside the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, athletes from around the world are seeking glory and making history. In the scruffy streets around the gleaming venue, residents are hoping to make a bit of extra money.

Some are selling drinks and snacks from their homes. A car repair shop on the corner by the stadium plaza has tins of beer for sale in a coolbox on a table set up in front of a pile of tyres.

“I’m unemployed, so this is an opportunity, a very good opportunity,” said a man named Wagner.

Wagner was sitting on a chair outside his house on Rua Bento Goncalves watching boxing on a television perched atop a beer crate during a lull in the athletics programme.

A rough sign above the door said: “Toilet 2 reais ($0.62), Beer 6 reais.”

Wagner, 32, said plenty of people, Brazilians and foreigners, stopped to buy beer or use the facilities, and he would go the warehouse later for a resupply. He also had a variety of national flags for sale.

The Engenho de Dentro (Sugar Mill) area is mostly working-class. Tight-packed houses, many in need of a coat of paint, open directly on to the pavement. Imaginative graffiti and cartoons depicting Rio life are on the walls.

The great Brazilian musician Jorge Ben Jor immortalised Engenho in song, saying: “Look around honey, wisdom and money in your pocket, chicken soup does not hurt anyone.”

The Joao Havelange Olympic Stadium, known as the Engenhao (Big Sugar Mill), was built on a former piece of railroad land for the 2007 Pan-American Games when the organisers were looking for big, cheap space. The soccer club Botafogo now play there.

The development brought some better infrastructure to the neighbourhood and a refurbishment of the grand old railway station, but it still has a rundown air and is a far cry from Rio’s more glamorous spots.

Further down the street, Ester Moreida da Silva, 54, had set up shop in her front yard and was selling beer through the bars set in a wall topped with razor wire.

“I sell salgados, bolinhos. All made here in my house. Very fresh,” she said, referring to typical Brazilian snacks. “At night we do a churrasco (barbecue). “I’m making some money, but a lot of people go by in a hurry.”

She was open every day during the Olympic Games though she also sets up on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Business is good when Botafogo play.

Da Silva said she liked the Olympics but would not get to see any events inside the stadium.

“I’m working. I watch it on television,” she said.

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