I’m here in Rio de Janeiro for PEDESTRIAN.TV, and it’s been a solid few days. The Brazilians pulled off a really great opening ceremony, despite initial concerns within the media it all feels relatively safe around here, and the weather has been great – with the exception of some heavy winds on Sunday causing drama for some outdoor sports.

But there’s still a whole bunch of stuff going on at Latin America‘s first Olympics that we’ve noticed along the way.

The military is everywhere.


Four Things Going Down In Rio You Prob Won’t See On The Primetime Broadcast

The Brazilian Armed Forces is a pretty major military force in the Americas, with 318,480 troops in active duty. Nonetheless, Brazil tends to keep its nose out of international conflicts, and the country has never really been considered a target for terrorist attacks.

Obviously the Olympics is a different kettle of fish entirely, and soldiers are everywhere around Rio right now. Not only patrolling the streets, but also stationed at venues – there were a whole heap of them at the opening ceremony, but also a few sweating their arses off in the 30ºC heat around the beach volleyball arena on Copacabana.

It’s not uncommon to see processions of military vehicles moving up and down the city’s major thoroughfares, with fully kitted out soldiers in the back with their rifles at the ready. It’s all pretty intense, and a replay of similar scenes during the World Cup last year.

There are a lot of parties going on – if you’re invited.

Four Things Going Down In Rio You Prob Won’t See On The Primetime Broadcast

The Olympics is all about brands and sponsors – and each of ’em have a house set up somewhere in Rio. Many of them are throwing big parties for the athletes and celebrities setting up shop in Rio.

We also managed to swing an invite to Swiss watchmaker (and official Olympic timekeeper) Omega‘s party in Ipanema. There were a lot of rich, well-dressed, extremely attractive Brazilians there, which stood in sharp contrast to my jeans and t-shirt. My futile attempts to pass myself off as a Mark Zuckerberg-esque tech billionaire fell flat and it was pretty obvious I did not belong among this crowd.

Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne was there, but the sheer volume of selfies he was forced to participate in featuring what I can only imagine are the prospective cast of a planned Real Housewives of Rio had him leaving quite quickly.

For those not interested in the oil money/slicked-back hair black tie set, the party was still kicking on at local samba clubs. They may be lit up like a damn supermarket, and the old blokes are about a thousand times better at cutting shapes on the dancefloor than you’ll ever be, but they’re a good time.

Four Things Going Down In Rio You Prob Won’t See On The Primetime Broadcast

Event planning hasn’t gone as smoothly as it could.


Four Things Going Down In Rio You Prob Won’t See On The Primetime Broadcast


See this pic? There’s a lot of empty seats in the beach volleyball arena. But that doesn’t mean those tickets haven’t been sold – the punters are just queued up for about half a kilometre outside the venue.

Spectators have to travel through a metal detector to enter Olympic venues, and that process is pretty slow. It looks like there were a few people who missed the Australia vs Costa Rica beach volleyball game because of the line for security.


It was the same deal at the opening ceremony – a whole lot of punters, and not a whole lot of movement through the security gates. One bloke managed to sneak through a full DSLR camera and a GoPro just by putting them on the plastic tray while walking through the metal detector, which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

Also, food and drink at the venues tend to be in short supply. At the opening ceremony, the lines for popcorn – the only food left by halfway through – quickly became very, very long. Ditto beach volleyball: if you’re looking for some water to cool yourself down in the stands, you’d better have nicked some from wherever you’re staying.

Cops are clashing with locals in a bunch of continuing anti-Olympic protests.


Four Things Going Down In Rio You Prob Won’t See On The Primetime Broadcast

Many of the poorer residents of Brazil have long opposed the Olympic Games, believing they are a wasteful and corrupt expense given that so many people live in poverty quite close to venues. As the Games have begun, the protests have continued – including one in Copacabana on the afternoon of the opening ceremony, which attracted upwards of 15,000 people according to organisers.

Protesters managed to extinguish the Olympic torch during the run, and pelted the torch procession with stones at one point. Signs like “We don’t want a torch / We want our homes!” were being waved, and photos of allegedly corrupt politicians were held aloft above the crowd.

The protests aren’t necessarily about the Olympics alone – but many people are angry against the current administration of Brazil, many of whom are accused of corruption, and have forced many out of their homes in order to stage the Games.

Photo: Getty Images.