The build-up to this summer’s Olympics was essentially all doom-and-gloom, but as usual the pre-Games hysteria subsided with the Opening Ceremony, and from afar it seems most things have gone smoothly enough in Rio.
Up close, the impressions aren’t quite as positive. Poynter’s Ed Sherman asked a bunch of journalists currently in Rio how they’ve viewed the Games, and the responses were mostly negative. There’s a lot in here — from concern over the (maybe fabricated?) armed robbery of Ryan Lochte to a story about trying to trying to bride a cop with Oreos — and you should read it all, but here are some of the most interesting responses.
From Christine Brennan, who also expressed concern about crime in the wake of the Lochte incident:
“No one wants to hear about the media’s issues, but I will say the signage is the worst I’ve seen at any Olympics. I went to the Deodoro Olympic Park the other day to cover the U.S. women’s field hockey team and no one, I mean no one, had any idea where the stadium was. There were no signs, no nothing, I found it, but it wasn’t easy.”
From Los Angeles Times sports editor John Cherwa
This is Cherwa’s ninth Olympics. He calls Rio’s effort “by far the worst job done by any organizing committee.”
“By far the biggest problem is transport,” he said. “Buses do not arrive and depart on schedule if they arrive at all. Apparently bus drivers are quitting in mid-route, drivers are constantly stopping and asking for directions. It’s as if they hired the person who ran it in Atlanta.”
The hotels are fine compared to the ones in Turin and Sochi, Cherwa said. But there are other problems.
“Early, I nicknamed this the ‘shortcut Olympics,’ he said. “If they could cut a corner, they would. There was no printed transport guide, you had to use their app, which didn’t work half the time. Things like results are never printed. You are told to take a picture of the scoresheet.”
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel columnist Gary D’Amato had a more positive review, saying concerns about crime and Zika were overblown.
“The only complaints I have — and they are minor — is that there is a very limited selection of food items for the media at several of the venues, and the men’s restroom for the basketball arena venue has one toilet (to service, at times, up to a couple hundred of us).”
“Really, though, those are minor problems. I hear reporters complaining about their accommodations, but when you cover an Olympics, you should know you’re not going to be staying at a Four Seasons.”
Of course, media accommodations are really relevant only to the media members who have to deal with them, so we shouldn’t get too caught up in evaluating how comfortable reporters are (as we did in Sochi… remember all the pictures of toilets?). Still, these kinds of assessments offer some kind of perspective on how well-run the Games are, and it seems Rio’s organization leaves something to be desired.