Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Olympic spirit at crunch time

Syrian swimmer Rami Anis, center, is part of the 10-member refugee team competing in the Games.

Associated Press

Syrian swimmer Rami Anis, center, is part of the 10-member refugee team competing in the Games.

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Even if only for two weeks, can "Faster-Higher-Stronger" overpower deadlier, scarier and bloodier? Can the Olympics still offer the world momentary levity, distract it from terror, shootings, poverty and other worries in globally grim times?

U.S. women's and UConn basketball coach Geno Auriemma thinks so. He called the Olympics "a two-week haven where people can get away from it all."

"Every time you get here, get settled in, nothing seems to matter to any country other than the competition — as it should be," said Auriemma, at his third Games. "These two weeks, the joy and spirit of competition seems to win out."

If not, what use is the multibillion-dollar celebration of youthful endeavor and mostly niche sports?

Through no fault of their own, the athletes who will march in massed, joyful ranks behind their nations' flags in tonight's opening ceremony for the first Olympics in South America shoulder expectations beyond their own ambitions for gold, silver, bronze and personal bests.

No Olympics in recent memory has opened under so many dark clouds, both within recession-battered Brazil and beyond. Yet Olympic organizers can't be faulted for trying their best to distract people, with their "Together we can change the world" slogan and OlympicPeace social-media hashtag.

Tonight in Maracana Stadium, 10 refugee athletes will march as one team behind the white Olympic flag, a reminder to the world that they aren't solely defined by their lack of a place to call home. Cold War boycotts aside, the Games remain a symbol of global togetherness, even if an increasingly commercialized one.

And speaking of commercialization, reports about the Zika virus, polluted water, crime and political unrest in Brazil have helped NBC's advertising sales, network executives said Thursday.

"It just made people more aware that there is something going on down here," NBC Sports advertising head Seth Winters said.

He said NBC had already sold $1.2 billion in national advertising time, at a pace about 20 percent above the 2012 London Games, and is holding back inventory for additional sales. The network hit its internal target weeks in advance, and often that doesn't happen until after the Games start, if the target is reached, he said.

Though not expected to have as grand an opening ceremony as past ones, Rio still expects to wow.

"The Athens ceremony (in 2004) was classic, and Beijing (2008) was grand, was musical. London (2012) was quite smart. We're going to be cool," said creative director Fernando Meirelles.

And even on the streets of Rio, some Brazilians are beginning to embrace the moment and all it means. "Finally people are beginning to feel the Olympic spirit," said Ilene Pessoa, a college administrator who lives in Rio's Copacabana neighborhood. "The eyes of the world are on us."

Olympic spirit at crunch time 08/04/16 [Last modified: Thursday, August 4, 2016 10:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays rally comes up short, freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays showed a little bit of offense on Saturday, but that wasn't enough to change the results that are becoming ridiculously routine, the 7-6 loss to Seattle the 12th in their last 15 games and 21st of their last 30.

    Rays first baseman Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth inning.
  2. Rays journal: Jake Odorizzi has another short outing in loss

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jake Odorizzi turned in another short outing Saturday, failing to pitch four innings during the Rays' 7-6 loss.

    Wearing white armbands, umpire Chris Guccione (68), left, Carlos Torres (37)(not wearing armband), center facing, Dana DeMuth (32) center right, and Paul Nauert (39) talk before the start of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017. The World Umpires Association announced that umpires will be wearing white wristbands during all games to protest escalating verbal attacks on umpires and their strong objection to the Office of the Commissioner?€š€™s response to the attacks.
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Mariners game

    The Heater

    SS Adeiny Hechavarria doesn't always look like he's going hard, but he showed impressive reactions Saturday in reversing field to catch a ball that clanked off the catwalk then firing to second to double up Guillermo Heredia on an attempt to tag up.

  4. Bucs journal: Simeon Rice gives master class on sacks to defensive ends

    Bucs

    TAMPA — As the Bucs seek their first 10-sack season from a player since Simeon Rice in 2005, who better to help that cause than Rice himself?

  5. Bucs' annual Women of RED preseason party attracts nearly 2,000

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Theresa Jones is primarily a college football fan, but she wanted to get a taste of the Bucs. So the 46-year-old Tampa resident bought a ticket for the team's Women of RED Ultimate Football Party at Raymond James Stadium on Friday.

    Lee White of Seminole tries on a helmet at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers female fans descended upon Raymond James Stadium for the ultimate football party, the 2017 Women of RED: The Takeover, supported by Moffitt Cancer Center. CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times