Day 7: Opening Ceremony preparations

It was a BIG day and I will never ever forget a second of it. August 5th, 2016: the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony day, taking place in South America for the first time in history. We had to wake up at 6 am and be in the village as early as possible. Some volunteers and I had to move out to a new place of stay on the same day. So the organization team suggested us that our lugagge will be transported by the logistic guys so that we can concentrate on the ceremony preparations.

The objective of the day, for NOC Assistans at least, was clear but complicated: solve any ceremony-related issues of some ~11.000 athletes, coaches and officials in the village, bring them together in the right place at the right time and make sure nobody is missing and above all the flag bearer, the most important person on this day. We had a briefing meeting 4 hours before the delegations departure time to make sure everybody understood how coordination and communication should go during this evacuation process, who to call in case of problems and where and when each delegation should be.

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It was a hell of an effort. It was amazing how the coordination and synchronization worked: The village is like a small city. Walking from side to side could take up to 30 minutes. There was 31 buildings, where the 208 delegations are staying. Some delegations had more than 600 people, like Australia and Great Britain. There was more than 100 buses divided in waves, a wave has up to 22 buses waiting in specific area of the village and will be leaving with or without the delegation members in a specific time. Each delegation should get into a specific bus and some flag bearers had to take a different one. We had up to 11 Assistants per delegation, building coordinator and flag bearer partner and we had even to consider the elevator’s frequency use inside the building because a bottle neck could pop up. The volunteers troops were just doing an awesome and huge job. Around sunset the buses started leaving the village in a very synchronized way, it was an breath-taking moment. At night the village looked so deserted and empty. Now all eyes go to Maracanã Stadium…

Some volunteers found a way to make it to out there. Raquel, Brazilian, Wesal, Jordanian and I unexpectedly found ours, only one hour before the Ceremony starts. So we grabbed the first taxi and made him drop us off at the Stadium in a record-time. It took us almost one hour to arrive there and 30 minutes to find our gate and get through security. We were literally running on the streets and through the stadium halls. Adrenaline level is on its top. We made it, but were 30 minutes late. The emotions when I first saw the stage and the ceremony field were a deep long shudder through my whole body. We were exactly where the whole world’s eyes are, and it was simply speechless. The show was breath-taking from the non-marching athletes seats. Seeing the ceremony from the inside has a totally different taste. We enjoyed every single second. I could feel the Brazilian pride in every corner. They should be. It was a hell of an achievment. They impressed the world.

I made it home around 2 am. Getting out of the stadium was a real challenge. around 100.000 people were there and most of them were heading to the closest metro station. I was stunned by the ceremony and the performance the whole way, but I had to focus to find out at that late time where my new stay is. Thank God the amount of excitment and positive energy I received during the ceremony were more than enough to keep myself in a good mood and smiling. I never wanted this day to end…

To be continued…

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