– no, not Peter Allen… Peter Jones, who sat down for a chat with ASE about his Olympic experience.
Photos by Peter taken on his iPhone
ASE: Peter you have attended a few Olympics now – tell us about them and why you go to them.
PJ: Rio was my 5th Olympics – started in 1996 in Atlanta. I missed Athens as our daughter was born that week so I thought I’d better stay home. Why – it’s the biggest show on earth and you see how events on this scale really work. I’ve learnt lots and pinched a few ideas along the way. Plus, it’s a unique experience and I do love a bit of sport.
Let’s start with the Opening Ceremony – your impressions from inside the arena (compared to what we saw on TV)
Not the scale of London and Beijing but still pretty impressive. They relied on projection, rather than large props flying through the air. And no real superstars, as it was very much an all Brazilian line up (with the exception of Gisele Bundchen of course). Great pyros and a lovely torch/cauldron lighting moment but simple. The biggest issue with the ceremony is the length of time it takes to get all the athletes in. Almost 2 hours and it’s a bit hard to sit there, so it almost took that long to get out and order a hamburger.
Andrew Walsh (producer of the Melbourne Commonwealth Games ceremonies) proposes that all good ceremonies take the viewer on a journey. Did you feel that you were taken on a journey?
Yes and no. There was a definite storyline but it all kind of got a bit lost because it went so long. Maybe there is room for a 20/20 version of an Opening Ceremony.
Comparisons are inevitable, but compare this to others you have seen.
Beijing and London where truly spectacular, partly due to the budgets and the fact you had Danny Boyle directing (London). I still remember the precision of the drumming sequence in Beijing – absolutely perfect, and the chimneys rising out of the ground in London with Mary Poppins flying everywhere. And London of course had plenty of rock stars!
You went to Rio as a punter – no clients to pander to or anyone to please except yourself. Describe the visitor experience from your point of view.
Loved Rio but wouldn’t go back. Great scenery and iconic landmarks but once you got past that, it’s a little on the tired side. The city was very welcoming but I got the impression that they really didn’t care if it was on or not. Mind you, when someone from Brazil was playing, they went berserk! They are very passionate.
There were media reports around security – did you feel safe in Rio?
No issues with not feeling safe, as I was hanging out in the right areas – I’m too old to be at dodgy nightclubs! Didn’t even see a pickpocketer but I’m sure it was happening. Although, there were tanks and armed guards on a few corners.
Corporate sponsors are now an integral part of the Games experience. What corporate presence impressed, amused or interested you?
Lots of corporates. Usual suspects – Samsung, Coke, Nissan. Best branding job was the hotel Nissan took over on Copacabana Beach. They renamed it Hotel Kicks (after a car) and had swimmers coming down the side of it. And you couldn’t use a credit card unless it was VISA.
What did people queue up for (and did you)?
Had to queue to get through the security but that was OK. Sometimes it took over 30 minutes to get in. Biggest queue was for merchandise. The checkout area was hidden away so when you buy something you have no idea what you have to do to pay for it. 45 minutes to an 1 hour – I didn’t bother and found smaller outlets.
What did you see that you would like to use in one of your events?
Lots of projection mapping as part of the lead in entertainment before competition commenced. It was done very well.
What was your most memorable experience in Rio?
Getting my luggage back after 4 days!! Besides the Opening Ceremony, Beach Volleyball went off – particularly when the Brazilians were playing. And seeing the Russians get booed was interesting.
And there was sport as well – what was your favourite sporting moment that you were witness to?
I thought the cycling and handball were very exciting to watch, as I’d never seen them live before. The crowd really got behind the competitors.
And a selection of photos of the opening ceremony from the official Rio 2016 media feed (supplied by Getty Images)