Olympic Previews – PanAm Games Opening Ceremonies


 (Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

After a mind-numbing 5 hour flight from San Diego to NY, a 6 hour layover in JFK, a 10 hour flight to Sao Poalo, and a 24 hour stop in that city that included 4 magazine interviews and a TV interview describing Getty’s Images Editorial Sport coverage, I finally landed in Rio De Janeiro ready to cover the XV Pan American Games, minus one camera bag that Delta lost somewhere inbetween.

This would be my third Pan-AMs, with my mixed experiences in Winnipeg in ‘99 and Santo Domingo in ‘03, I was very much looking forward to all that Rio had to offer. After a short run along the infamous Copacabana Beach, I headed to the Maracana Stadium to meet my collegues which included three photographers (Harry How, Streeter Lecka, and Jeff Gross) one editor (Rebecca “The Queen of Red-Dots” Butala), our local Brazilian account executive, fixer, and all-around nice guy, working on our still lost luggage (Denis Lacerda).

The security at Pele’s old football home stadium where he lost the 1950 World Cup Final to Uraguay, was quite possibly the most lax I have ever experienced, which was nice but at the same time made me a bit nervous. As two of my fellow Getty shooters where there earlier sorting out the roaming positions on the ground, my job was to find a nice elevated position where I could cover a lot of ground without having to move a lot. Within minutes of walking into the door, I found an uncrowded shooting position, a large hot dog and a delicious Acai flavored Gatorade. I was pretty content.

When the show and fireworks started, my pleasant Rio experience continued. The Brazilian Olympic Commitee and organizers put on a good show with beautiful costume design and choreagraphy without busting the bank with a huge budget. Sure they didn’t have the fantastic fireworks from the Olympic Openings or the 100 million dollar budget from Doha last year I was told about, but it was nevertheless well done.

By the time we packed our kit and took the bus back to the hotel it was already close to midnight. So we went to the local restaurant in Copacabana where Streeter had “his boy” serve us some delicious local fare and more caprihinas that I needed since I had a 6 AM wake-up call the next morning for the marathon swim. But hey, the Pan Am’s only happen every four years and we’re in Rio…

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