If there were Olympic gold medals for partying in the stands, Brazil would be sitting pretty on top of the medal table.
At the Deodoro complex of Olympic events in western Rio, spectators have managed to create a memorable atmosphere even in sports in which there is little tradition in Brazil, such as canoeing, hockey and rugby.
On Sunday (7 August), among the hardened canoeing fans from Canada, Great Britain and Australia were hundreds of locals determined to make a party of their big day out.
It’s not hard to spot a carioca Olympic fan. Yellow-and-green clothes, flags and face paint are almost obligatory. Add a seemingly limitless reserve of energy for dancing, cheering and smiling and it really doesn’t matter that for many this is the first time they are watching a sport that isn’t football.
“I had never even heard of canoeing, but I live close by and I couldn’t miss out on the party,” said Fabiana Aparecida, who lives in the Deodoro region and bought random tickets without knowing which sport she would be watching. On Sunday, she was shaking her stuff with the best of them.
“I’m going to buy more tickets. It’s amazing.”
Haroldo and Elza da Silva came fully prepared for a patriotic party, complete with Brazilian flag, even though they didn’t know that a Brazilian – medal hope Pedro da Silva – was competing.
“I had no idea,” Haroldo said. “I had seen canoeing on the TV and found it quite interesting, but I learnt the rules properly just now on the big screen video.”
The couple will be back to Deodoro soon to watch the BMX cycling for another big day out.
“It’s a privilege to see an Olympic event here,” Elza said. “It’s party-time in Rio.”