Behind the Scenes at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

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We know all about the stunning opening ceremony, the torch relay, and the displays of raw emotion on the medal podiums, but it’s not often we think about the levels of preparation that go into the Olympics showcases.

Though behind-the-scenes work is often overlooked, it is the backbone of any functioning event. This is no less true for the largest amateur sporting event in the world. For the past year, Rio 2016 had the goal of hiring 90,000 workers for the Olympics and Paralympic Games, including 5,000 positions from its partnership with ManpowerGroup and 85,000 contracted jobs.

ManpowerGroup is a human resources consulting firm that was responsible for recruiting the organizing committee for the Rio Olympics. Seventy percent of these posts are leadership related, with workers responsible for coordinating teams such as technology, arrivals and broadcast. Meanwhile, 85,000 jobs are outsourced to third-party contractors, primarily in the service area. Positions include drivers, bar staff, sushi chefs and the like.

The Rio 2016 Organizing Committee estimates that by the start of the Games, they will have around 8,000 directly employed workers. According to the Rio Times, positions such as Systems Assistant received over 2,000 applications by 2013. Other popular positions include Licensing Manager (over 1,500 applications) and Sponsors Relations Specialist (more than 1,400 submissions). There are also venue managers, document controllers, and tour services coordinators.

Third-party construction workers have had a lot on their plates in preparing new competition venues including the three Carioca Arenas (Basketball, Judo/Wrestling, and Fencing/Taekwondo), the Aquatics Stadium (Swimming/ Water Polo Playoffs), and the Velodrome (Cycling/Women’s Basketball Preliminary Round). Workers have also set up temporary competition arenas specifically for the 2016 Olympics, including Copacabana Stadium (Beach volleyball) at the famous Copacabana beach, Deodoro Stadium (Modern pentathlon/Rugby), and Future Arena (Handball).

The city of Rio de Janeiro has also undergone urban renovation and infrastructure improvements in preparation for the Olympic Games—renewals that have displaced up to 70,000 residents, according to Rio on Watch. Workers have been building public networks for water supply and electricity, sanitation treatment plants, a new tram running throughout most of the city and more than 200 kilometers of security fencing.

Let’s not forget preparations for the infamous opening ceremony. Despite the low budget of the Rio 2016 opening ceremony (only 10 percent of London’s in 2012), organizers are hopeful for the outcome. The ceremony is being directed by Fernando Meirelles (the director of City of God) and is said to likely feature Brazilian themes such as carnival, samba, and the indigenous community. In addition to workers preparing the stadium for the big day, an ensemble of 6,000 volunteers make up choreographer Deobrah Colker’s cast of dancers.

As the 2016 Olympic Games approaches, many have raised concerns over the Zika virus, sanitation issues, political instability, economic crisis, security concerns, and a plethora of other issues in Rio de Janeiro. However, even critics must admit that much work has been put into preparing the city to host teams from all around the world.

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