Wow, its already been a week since I started as NOC Assistant (National Olympic Committee Assistant) at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. My place of work is right in the middle of the Olympic village between all the athletes and delegates, where the whole world is represented!
The first few days I had to explore how it all works here and what they expect of us, however, I have now developed a routine. Passing through the security gates to enter into the village, to check in for a lunch voucher and a bottle of water at the NOC Service Centre, before going through to the office of the delegates.
I have been allocated to the Tunisian NOC. They speak French and Arabic but fortunately some people speak English and German. I started to learn Portuguese as French is not my strongest language but it makes communicating difficult sometimes. The delegation consist of approx 60 people so it’s not too big! Read more here about the Tunesian athletes: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunisia_at_the_2016_Summer_Olympics
The delegation has 4 assistants available. I am working with 2 French people and one Brazilian. Every day is exiting as we don’t know what comes our way. The first few days we made a list of who lives in which room. This a a precise job as many people have similar names such as Mohamed, and are often shortened. I have also been busy with organizing cars and drivers and making sure people get to there destinations. Also doing some shopping and exchange money is part of our job!
During the training we were taught to be creative in finding solutions to the so called “Aiaiai’s. In one instance we were locked into an office because the wind blew the door shut and forced the lock. Part of the team (including myself) were locked in, while the other half was on the outside. It was quite a job to obtain the phone number of the reception so someone could come to our rescue. In my best possible Portuguese, I had to explain to someone on the other side to get help from the reception to show them our predicament. Finally after 15 minutes a technician turned up to free us!!
Welcome and Opening Ceremony
This week we had 2 important events. The Welcome Ceremony on August 1 and the Opening Ceremony on August 5. In this official ceremony the delegates were installed into the Olympic Village. We had to make sure the lollypop with flag were present, that the delegation had a gift for the organizing country and that everyone arrived on time, especially that is major challenge!
On Friday all the NOC Assistants received a briefing on how to get all the people to the Maracana Stadium, that is a big operation! In different shifts, the delegates are transported to the location by bus. First the people gather in front of the delegation’s apartment, then walk as one group to the bus where the hop on and are fare welled. A few days before the official opening, I had a taste of the ceremony at the Dress Rehearsal, that was SUPER! The Brazilians are certainly capable in organizing such a show! I was speechless as I watched the official opening on TV, at my host’s house!
Today and tomorrow are my 2 days off, time to reflect on all the events of the last week and to get a bit of rest. So far I am thrilled by the whole experience. Apart from meeting the delegation, I meet many other people in the elevator or during searches for information all over the village. The barrier to talk to others is low and very enjoyable to meet people from different cultures. During meals I often meet other volunteers. From close by, I see athletes entertain themselves on bikes and skateboards, which makes the stay in the village so enjoyable. I look forward to what’s ahead in the next coming weeks!