Water pollution problems plague Rio
Unavoidably, we're going to spend a lot of time talking about what isn't going right at these Olympics. And not just the big things, like the water, as I wrote about today, but the little things (like my credit card getting hacked moments after I used it in the Olympic convenience store in the Main Press Center). So let's talk briefly about something that went right yesterday.
After a morning spent talking to sailors at the sailing venue before chartering a fishing boat for a quick look around Guanabara Bay, I headed over to Fort Copacabana, the headquarters for the marathon swimming and triathlon to see if, by chance, there were any open-water swimmers training. There were not – those events are later in the Olympics – but it was the best-prepared media center I've seen yet: spacious, organized, with better transportation and local info posted than even at the MPC.
Vivian, the manager, was possibly very bored and happy to entertain visitors but certainly extremely competent and informative. She pulled out big diagrams of the area, blueprint-sized, to point out where all the media and competition areas were. (It's a complicated layout in a very public spot at the foot of Copacabana Beach.)
The same media areas will be used for road cycling starting Saturday, an event that has complicated photo logistics because of the vans that take photographers out on the course and the motorcycles that run ahead of the leaders, but there were already instructions on how to sign up and detailed step-by-step descriptions of what to do and where to go.
So I can say for certain there's at least one spot in the Rio Olympics that is 100 percent ready to go and on the ball.
I should also note that our trip aboard a fishing boat to survey the bay Wednesday was a true McClatchy team effort. Kevin Hall of the Washington bureau, a former Rio resident, served as our translator and fixer, and David Eulitt of the Kansas City Star took the photos and video.
As for my credit card, it's looking more likely that the timing of the fraudulent transactions – I returned from the store to the main workroom, sat down at my computer and the alerts started coming in – was coincidental. More likely, malware in the chip reader at a beach cafe in Copacabana on Monday was the culprit. The level of credit-card fraud in Brazil is insane, and even with an overseas-style chip-and-PIN card, which I had, you're not immune. The ATMs at the airport are notorious for having card scanners.
Fortunately, our corporate bank caught the fraud immediately, impressive since it was not necessarily easy to spot when I was making legitimate Brazilian transactions. They're FedExing me a new card, but I think I'm going to lean toward using cash anyway (assuming my ATM card doesn't get hacked, too).
THE DAY AHEAD: The U.S. basketball team has its first (closed) practice at the competition venue, Carioca Arena 1, before meeting with the media in the afternoon. Competition is already under way around Brazil in women's soccer, and the men get started today.
Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, firstname.lastname@example.org, @LukeDeCock