We’re already more than halfway through the 2016 Rio Olympics and it's been go, go, go - both for the athletes and for us. In 10 days, I have met more than half of the Australian delegation, with over 200 care packs distributed. The most inspiring encounters have taken place - and I touched more medals than I could ever imagine (and yes, they weigh a ton!).
Every day at the Edge is an adventure but the highlight of this work trip definitely has to be visiting the Athletes' Village. The security to get in is obviously very strict and for the first time, families and friends are not allowed in on a regular basis.
As you pass the gates, you find yourself in the ‘international zone’ where authorised media are allowed to go and interviews happen. There, athletes can enjoy an outdoor lounge with a big screen to ensure they don’t miss a moment of the Games, a beach volleyball court, a general store and most importantly, a McDonald’s. As it’s free for all athletes and coaches, you can imagine how long the queue is for a cheap meal or a well-earned treat! Some athletes, like badminton player Sawan Serasinghe, surely indulged a feast after his defeat…(Source)
The village gives off the vibe of a university campus, with tall towers each displaying their country’s flag. There's even an internal competition running for the best decorated building! Of course, the iconic Aussie kangaroo and emu proudly hold fort at the reception of our green and gold tower. On the first floor of the Australian tower, a hub is available for athletes to relax. Couches, bean bags and TVs displaying Ch.7 best sports are on 24/7. A camera is also available for athletes to do live crosses with Ch. 7 studio.
But the best part is without a doubt the village facilities. Athletes can cycle, run or walk around the village and it’s not surprising to see athletes training all the time. A polyclinic is also available to all - the biggest countries like Australia travel with their own doctors and specialists, but other smaller countries can use the opportunity to have dental treatments, eye care services and more.
I must confess that the most intimidating part of all this was the moment I entered the village fitness centre. Imagine walking inside a gym and being surrounded by hundreds of athletes from hundreds of countries, all at the top of their game, all working out in the same room!
Our visit concluded in the main dining room - a huge cafeteria where all athletes and coaches congregate on a daily basis. During the first week of the Games, each nation sits with their own, but as the Games progressed, the cafeteria slowly becomes a kaleidoscope of colours. Opponents who fought in the ring one morning would be having dinner a few tables apart the same night.
Unfortunately, for first-time Olympians, high profile athletes like Usain Bolt don’t stay in the village as they get harassed. Even US men’s and women’s basketball teams are currently staying aboard a luxury cruise ship, docked at Pier Maua in Rio, to ensure they have the best environment possible.
Oh, and the rumor is true… 450,000 condoms were delivered for the athletes in Rio – that’s a shocking 42 per person! Athletes are invited to ‘celebrate with a condom’ and distributors are located everywhere in the dining hall.
And the funny thing is they are so noisy, so goodbye subtlety!
So let’s celebrate the remaining days of these Games and don’t miss my next blog post about some key brand experience I encountered here in Rio.