Olympic Diary: Day 1

I am sitting in the main room of the Canada House 15 minutes after their opening for the Games. I’m here, ostensibly, to see the Opening Ceremonies. Though I did note there would be food.

On the big screen they are playing the Canadian version of ESPN. But the French version of the Canadian version. On the smaller side screens CBC is on. They’re doing what looks like the classic Olympic television “cultural introduction” to the host country through a local chef showing how some local dish is made. Hard to say what they are actually making —they are outside at a picnic table with a bunch of containers — but the CBC host is definitely gesticulating a lot. Life is mirroring the screen as there is also no food appearing here.

There are, it must be admitted, ample recharging opportunities. Thanks Bell. I’m curious what creatures will be extending from these cord holes in 2024. Or if there even will be cord holes.

The coveted cord hole

Speaking of local food, I presently find myself in an ambivalent position on the topic, after getting terrible food poisoning at a highly recommended neighborhood boteco.

The offending restaurant

It was a truly horrific experience (also for the hotel cleaning person). The last time I threw up was probably from drinking in my mid-twenties. And I don’t really remember it because, well, I was drunk. I did get food poisoning as a child but this was definitely not one of those experiences where you return to your childhood haunts to find that everything seems to have become a bit “less” — the shopping mall has shrunk, the jumping rock is no longer as high as it once was. My memory of food poisoning was bad, but this was so much worse than even my most vivid memories.

Which is part of the reason that I am slightly excited for what I imagine to be the bland, safe food that will be served at the Canada house.

Since arriving in Rio (for the part that I was not sequestered in my hotel room) I have been struck by a few things. First of all, how completely Rio lived up to being “just about but not quite ready”. I felt like this video taken outside of the aquatic center yesterday summed things up just about perfectly.

I have no idea what these guys are actually doing, but in terms of wagering, I’d put a great deal of money on the bet that it’s something that needs to be completed before the Olympics begin.

Speaking of The Olympics

How you feel about the Olympics is an interesting question as it doesn’t break along clear ideological lines. People who otherwise hate sports love the Olympics. People who love sports hate the Olympics.

The first Olympics I remember caring about were the Calgary Games (winter), which took place while I was in elementary school. I made a scrapbook of all the articles I could find about the Olympics and by the time the games drew to a close it was jammed. That was probably the high-water mark in terms of my unambivalent support for the endeavor, but watching humans do things better than I could previously conceive possible is something that continues to captivate me. To be honest it doesn’t have to be an Olympic sport. I am impressed by the guys at the pizza parlor whipping together cardboard boxes with an alacrity that clearly took years to develop.

In terms of summing up the Olympic love/hate relationship I thought that Justin Peter’s Slate article did a decent job of describing the conflict. And did you know that the gold medal is actually only 1% gold (the rest is silver and copper)??

But First, The Opening Ceremonies

I had a hard time paying attention to the beginning of the ceremony, but now it seems like there are a lot of fireworks going off, so that’s neat. Next up is the parade of nations. The sequence is apparently based on alphabetical order in Portuguese of the countries. So that means South Africa becomes “Africa do Sul” and jumps up to third in the order, etc. Which seems fine. What is less fine is that the Rio Olympics site maintains this order for their dropdown menus, even when you change the language to English. This made finding the “United States” remarkably difficult until I figured out what was going on.

Other slightly surprising things include the fact that only 55 of Great Britain’s 371 athletes took part in the opening ceremony, and the other fact that there was already a world record set today (in archery) at these Olympics before the opening ceremonies even took place.

Kim expressing his record-breaking excitement.

As soon as Canada finished their entrance (CBC oddly cut to commercial right in the middle which seemed like insanely poor planning) Canada House began to clear out (which I feel is about as patriotic as Canadians really get). I hung around for a bit afterward. Long enough to learn from people from the Canadian consulate that Olympic athletes have sex six times a day. Citius, Altius, Fortius.

Ping pong at 9am.

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