Felipe Wu (Getty Images)
Rio de Janeiro - First, the opening ceremony drew praise from all over the world. Then
there were parties all over Rio de Janeiro, and Brazil's first medallist on
A sweet start to the Olympics prompted the return of a familiar
chant from the 2014 World Cup that had been pushed into the darkness by years
of bad news. "I am Brazilian, with a lot of pride, with a lot of
love," they celebrated.
With the Olympics in full swing, beleaguered Brazil is smiling
"We are not stupid, we know the economy crisis doesn't end
with Olympic Games," 46-year-old volunteer Marcos Silveira said at a bar
hours after an opening ceremony steeped in local culture and history.
"But I just want a break, to feel proud of what we can do,
too. Let me enjoy these Olympics that we built to be great for all. We can do
great things here, too," said Silveira, an unemployed engineer.
On Saturday, some of the proud locals watched as Brazil's women's
handball team beat Olympic champion Norway.
They went on to cheer Felipe Wu to the country's first medal in
shooting in 96 years - a silver in the 10-meter air pistol. A sequence of beach
volleyball and volleyball victories made it up for disappointing losses in judo
and women's basketball.
On the streets of bohemian neighbourhood Laranjeiras, which is
more carioca than touristic, all TV sets were showing Olympic competitions,
regardless of the involvement of Brazilians.
"I wasn't very excited until last night, I admit,"
waiter Wilson Elias said. "But it is so many people criticising us that
now I want them to be proved wrong. We have our flaws, but we have our tricks,
too. If I have the chance to buy a ticket for something, I will."
Reports from the ticket office at a shopping mall in one of the
wealthiest areas of Rio said lines were big all day long.
On Copacabana beach, the nationalistic feel was also present in
light-hearted jokes. After Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt beat Josh Binstock
and Samuel Schachter of Canada in beach volleyball, 21-year-old university
student Carlos Silva predicted more success for his country in 2018 in South
"Be ready, because soon we will beat you at the Winter
Olympics, too. It is all ours now," he said with a strong Rio accent.
At the Sochi Games in 2014, Brazil sent its biggest delegation
ever to the Winter Games: 13 athletes.
Not even news of huge lines to get in the Olympic Park, of a
suspect package near the finishing line of the road cycling race or a stray
bullet shot into the equestrian venue changed the positive atmosphere for
Local fans were gracious enough to celebrate a gold medal for
South American rival Argentina - judoka Paula Pareto in the 48kg category.