My short bio: Hi everyone! I was a volunteer (EVS - Event Services) at the Future Arena (handball exclusive) at Barra Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games! An unusual task for a marketing guy which spends most of the time in front of the computer. I will also take part on the Paralympic Games at the Olympic Village in September.

It's my time to share this experience with you!

My Proof: My credentials and my experience

Comments: 150 • Responses: 54  • Date: 

barnakopacsi30 karma

Did you meet any 'big' athletes?

cobawsky39 karma

Yes! Actually I saw many of the big ones on handball, specially the Brazilians. We had rotative positions there, and in some days I was responsible for the access control at the athletes entrance, so I was able to get some handshakes and pins from the big ones!

EDIT: orthography

UncleWinstomder26 karma

I read that volunteers worked terrible hours and weren't given much food to go on throughout the day. What was your experience in terms of hours and food?

cobawsky66 karma

I had no problems regarding hours at the beginning. What happened later is that some people abandoned the programe for some reasons. Some of them could not take the whole journey (some old people), not even the normal one. Others had too much expectations on the programe believing that they would spend all the time working beside the match area so they could watch the matches, which is ridiculous if you think about it properly. Due to these absences, SOME people chose to stay a little longer during the worktime to help everyone. They did not ordered us to stay, some of us did because we wanted to help. Well, we were a team, a family. We wanted to help each other. Also, the committee started to call in some people who were still waiting for the invitation letter, so they could fill these empty slots.

About food, well, the breakfast was not a marvelous thing but we had one at least. The lunch was a masterpiece, it really exceeded our expectations. We also had free ice cream for desert in some days. The major problems happened only during the first day of the games, later on it all became normal, accordingly.

weren't given much food to go on throughout the day

This is not true, we had food yes. Perhaps not a good quality breakfast? Yes, but we had breakfast.

redditmodssuckass1 karma

Whats a quality breakfast in Brasil? Pao de queju?

cobawsky6 karma

hahahaha, yes, Pão de Queijo is part of a good breakfast. In my region we have bread, fruits, ham and cheese in the morning. Specially lots of fruits. They gave us a pack of popcorn and a small cupcake.

ElrondofVvardenfell-14 karma


cobawsky22 karma

About food, well, the breakfast was not a marvelous thing but we had one at least. The lunch was a masterpiece, it really exceeded our expectations.

genericusername121614 karma

Did you get a free trip to Rio and what was the accommodation etc like ?

cobawsky20 karma

No, unfortunately. But I got a free accommodation because a friend of mine lives there. Also, my trip was not free, I paid for it. The only support the games provided were food and transport on my workdays.

Strykah13 karma

Were you present when any big Olympic records were broken(Phelps, Bolt, etc)?

cobawsky17 karma

Unfortunately not. I was able to be present on some finals only when my schedule ended, on the last weekend of the Olympics. Before that, I was working at the Future Arena only.

barnakopacsi13 karma

What was your main job?

cobawsky24 karma

The EVS role is to take actions and care of the visitors on the queues, tickets, entrances, rows and seats, access control and to maintaing the good mood on the queues whenever needed. Also to provide information and aid to people who were lost at the park. Inside the arena we were designated to be a helping hand for the people who were lost looking for their seats, and as a bonus, we could watch the matches.

Enthalok12 karma

Do you feel like the hate reddit put on the Olympics was out of proportion to the actual event?

Edit: grammar

cobawsky18 karma


DavidLuis19811 karma

What was the mais reason you became a volunteer?

cobawsky29 karma

The main reason I became a volunteer is because I am a sports guy, I love to run and get my bike to run some trails. Aside from that, I always wanted to be part of a major event, a world event like the Olympic Games, and also because being a volunteer, for me, is like being part of a noble cause.

Also to feed my altruistic profile :).

DavidLuis1986 karma

It was difficult to became one?

cobawsky15 karma

It depends on how you imagine this kind of "difficulty". They analyze your profile, your skills on languages, your mood, we make some online tests at the games portal and many other things.

So, if you have the skills, you're in. It's not difficult because these tests are only made so they can be 100% sure that you fit the needs. And luckily, I was chosen to be one. :)

Its like a job interview.

100mik10 karma

Best experience as a volunteer?

cobawsky29 karma

Being part of a wonderful group of people working for the same objective and having contact with athletes and amazing visitors! Feeding your altruistic spirit all the time and being part of this major event where athletes give their best to overcome themselves.

Wasla6739 karma

How much did the tickets for Handball games cost?

cobawsky12 karma

From 50 Brazilian reais to 320 on the finals.

Forvalaka9 karma

What really happened to all of those condoms that were distributed?

cobawsky13 karma

Any reliable source? Haven't heard about that so far.

Tony49UK2 karma

Every Olympics especially since Sydney 2000 there's always hundreds of thousands of condoms distributed to the athletes. The athletes like to claim that they're massive studs and if they're not competing they're shagging like crazy. This year of course with the Zika virus going around there's been even more condoms distributed then normal. The Aussies have gone through about 3 batches so far although TBH they're probably just using most of them as water ballons.

cobawsky5 karma

lol, I was not aware about that.

Thanks. I will be working at the Olympic Village during the Paralympics. Let's see what happens lol.

ferlgatr9 karma

What country was the worst to deal with?

cobawsky32 karma

Brazilians!! Definitely! We complain too much. The event was perfect, but Brazilians are always trying to compare our country with first world countries, so, every now and then someone would say "yes, that's Brazil, only here...", when something was out of place, or not working properly. They just don't know about the amount of things happening at the backstages, all the planning and stuff...

All the foreigners were very happy and receptive, I was very well treated by them.

SingleMalhado3 karma

Eu vi os voluntários reclamando muito dos Russos e dos Turcos.

cobawsky6 karma

Na Arena do Futuro foi tudo as mil maravilhas. Sem incidentes.

TheLastJuan7 karma

Do you see a lot of european Volunteers complaining? It's what the news/media here in Germany says

cobawsky12 karma

No, I had a Spanish working with me and she was very helpful. No complaints, actually she even stayed a little over time because she felt like. Aside from her, I did not met any other European volunteer. Perhaps they were working in other arenas. But we, Brazilians ourselves, had problems regarding food and organization at the beginning but only in the first 3 days.

simplysuperman7 karma

are you overall happy with the experience, was it worth it ?

cobawsky7 karma

For sure! Getting to know more people everyday, having fun with other volunteers, watching games. Being part of this major event and getting back home with this feeling of "job done"!

It's a noble feeling I would say!

Ermischiella5 karma

What do you think to the recent news that Rio does not have enough money to complete the original plan for the Paralympics (venues are being changed/downgraded, and media centres shut), due to overspending on the Olympics?

Where I am this feels incredibly unfair on the Paralympic athletes, and as if they are second-class athletes.

cobawsky11 karma

Rumors only. The mayor was at a talk show last night saying the oposite. And I will also be there, working... Its all going normally. I received my schedule, workplace map... etc... Everything ok.

Zan_H5 karma

Thoughts on the controversy surrounding this Olympics and are you employed by Brazil or the IOC?

cobawsky11 karma

None of those, I was a volunteer, I didn't sign any contract. BUT considering your question, I would sai IOC. I was a volunteer under their flag.

About the controversy. Well, we complain as much as the French are complaining about their government these days, but we can't compare our economy to theirs... if you know what I mean. No French would move to Brazil in the present days. So, yes, we complain to anything as a result of this crisis we are having.

hihihi1273 karma

In your opinion, how do you think the Rio games went? Were there any big gaps that caused disruption, or did it run fairly smoothly?

cobawsky10 karma

It went 95% ok. We had problems at the beginning, shortage of food in some arenas and problems with the access control for the visitors which caused delays on the queues. Aside from that everything was fine. The first 4 days were very difficult, but in the end everything went fine.

Forvalaka3 karma

Lyin' Lochte aside, what crimes did visitors experience that haven't been widely publicized?

cobawsky15 karma

I heard about a pickpocketing thing in Copacabana and a car accident that killed a member of the german slalom team. Aside from that, I haven't heard about anything. Well, the National Force, Army, Navy and Air Force personnel are currently everywhere in Rio. The biggest "crime" in my opinion was the lack of english speakers to provide information for the visitors at the games.

tidimus3 karma

Do you feel that Rio was really ready for the backlash and in depth news coverage, regarding them not being ready for the Olympics? Was it something that maybe they didn't care about, or was it about what they expected?

cobawsky13 karma

No, Rio was not ready for the backlash but the aftermath really showed the world that we did it! Perfectly! The government really cared about what the news could say about the Olympics and the worked very hard to fix the problems and make all the efforts to ensure that the games would work perfectly. I watched some interviews withe the Rio's mayor and he really tried his best, at least it was what he said.

southdetroit10 karma

I'm an American, I wrote a paper about the Rio Olympics for my university South American Politics class a year ago. Once I started reading Brazilian news sources and the application documents from the government of Rio I thought it was clear that it was always going to be fine. The international media made it sound like there were going to be events on dirt floors under tin roofs or something. I hope that the Games helped show both to you Brazilians and to the world that even if times are bad now you have plenty of potential.

cobawsky5 karma

Thanks man! The games were perfect, wether for Brazilians or foreigners. You know, the media needs audience, so, if any celebrity goes out at night with full make up but a blurry thing on the eye, the media will get their macro lens and show exactly that small spot. So, if you know what I mean, I could really see the difference about what the media was saying and what was really happening in the Olympics.

The games showed the world, and specially the foreigners who came to our city that we are charismatic, humble and very receptive people.

IcedLemonCrush3 karma

Sério? Eduardo Paes me deu uma vibe muito "liguei o foda-se" nessas olimpíadas. Ele fez tudo certinho, mas parece que ele cansou de se preocupar com a opinião dos outros.

cobawsky4 karma

Eu me cansaria também.

c_the_potts3 karma

Is it true you got a "goody bag"? If you did, what was in it?

cobawsky5 karma

A squeeze, a watch, a small notebook, a bottle hanger... is that what you meant? I am talking about the volunteer bag. But I got no "goody bag", the way you say at least.

vegatripy2 karma

In overall. Do you think Rio 2016 was good or bad for the future of the country? Due to the unsolved problems and recession Brazil actually has, do all the investment worth it?

cobawsky5 karma

Actually Rio 2016 will be good for Rio only. It won't get us out of our current crisis or anything like that. The Olympic legacy will provide a new place for our athletes, and new sports training centers. Perhaps sports that never had attention here before. What was good nationwide speaking about the games, is that now most of the world and people who came here got back with a nice impression of our people's charisma, receptivity and humbleness.

I am not so informed about the return of the investment yet. We will have the Paralympics next month and perhaps after that we will have a notion about this.

vegatripy1 karma

I'm from Madrid and I'm glad we didn't made it to host any of the Olympic Games we applied (from 2010 - 2020. Now we have a new Mayor from a different party and they stop the madness). Tons of money has been already invested and 10xtons of money would be invested if we had won any of the hostings, throwing Madrid in a bigger hole of debt while corrupt politicians would give an important part of that money to their friends, family, or even themselves. That would only feed that big corrupt and fatty baby while making Madrid the most indebted European capital.

I have the same fearings for Rio. I wish the impact will be positive, and help to raise the economy in the whole country. Of course you're going to get more tourist from now, but that's a double-edged sword.

cobawsky2 karma

We are already in an economic crisis, so, nothing changed I guess. I just hope that Rio gets this return of investment from the games at the end.

Question for you, what's the legacy of the games in Spain during the 90s? I heard that Barcelona still "harvests" good things from it.

vegatripy2 karma

Looking from a country perspective, It was useless. In 1992 we had both the Olympic games in Barcelona, the Universal Exposition in Sevilla and some other big projects like Hispasat satellite. Our government invested tons of public money on those and the result was the biggest public debt we had in our history. The next year we suffered the biggest recession we had ever and our unemployment rate grew up until 24%.

Speaking just about Barcelona.. Well Its hard to tell because Barcelona always was a very touristic and artistic city. Its the closest to Europe, and have so many tourist-baits.. its hard to tell how much Barcelona 92 influenced that. Of course it highlighted his position in maps. Many foreign people still believe Barcelona is Spain's capital. (Just like Sydney and Australia)

But now the truth is Barcelona citizens are sick of tourism. Tourism increased the prices to the top, and nowadays live in Barcelona's centre is almost impossible because most of the apartments are for vacation rental and growing up the rent prices. (actually they're trying to put some limits )

cobawsky1 karma

Thanks! It was something that I was always thinking about. The Rio2016 Megastore was selling some pins from 1992 games.

Actually I am planning to move to Barcelona. I have a Brazilian friend already living there, working for Google.

Forvalaka2 karma

How was working in Future Arena? Did it feel like a temporary venue?

cobawsky7 karma

It was cool. The FTA was very wide and tall. It was inspiring. I was able to watch some of the matches and the technology used one the game was very nice. All the project of the Arena was modern and it provided good accessibility for the public.

Temporary? Hmmmm, I think we volunteers, tried not to think that someday it was going to have and end. But the FTA is a temporary stadium. It will be disassembled to become 4 sport schools for our youngsters.

KE0BVT2 karma

I'm a little late to the party, but as an Olympics superfan, are there any pieces of Olympic signage or anything that they're taking down and going to get rid of that you could grab for me? I just think it would be so darn cool to have something actually from the Olympics, and I'd be willing to pay for shipping if so.

It's kind of an odd request, but I figure I'd ask. Either way, thank you for volunteering! These awesome games couldn't happen without people like you!

cobawsky3 karma

PM me.

AgoraiosBum2 karma

What did you think about the organizational side of things that don't actually show up on TV - the training of volunteers, the coordination of schedules, the transportation of volunteers, workers, and athletes, and the overall logistics of making sure things end up where they need to be?

Feel free to answer as much or as little as you like.

cobawsky8 karma

The training was ok. The problem for was that I am 600km far from the place I was being volunteer. So, I could not show up for the trainings in Rio, like "My Role on the Games" and "Local Training". There were these two trainings which I could not be present. Anyway, I received a brief training on my first day, and to be honest, the tasks were totally ok without the other trainings. Schedules were ok, transportation very ok, all the rest was ok.

The main problems in the first days was that our coordinators, some of them, were unexperienced on Olympic Games, so, many problems happened at the beginning. There was a lack of information posts in the park, also some problems on directions. Food shortage for the visitors and delays on the queues due to bureaucratic processes on the access control caused by the police. But 3 days later everything was working fine and it remained that way until the last days of the games.

Jarmahent1 karma

Were the conditions there in general as bad as people say it is on the news? I seem to only hear negative things about the Rio Olympics.

cobawsky4 karma

The media always overrate stuff. You probably know that. Everything was working fine in Rio, the police and armed forces are doing their job perfectly. No Zika, no Dengue. Everything went perfectly fine in my point of view. My concern about the Olympics legacy goes around the fact that perhaps some reforms are going to be forgotten and become obsolete or in complete disarray.

Handy971 karma

Did you get to bang an athlete? After all they seem to be pretty horny

cobawsky1 karma


Maslor1 karma

Were you one of those guys riding a flowery bike in the opening ceremony?

cobawsky2 karma

No, but they provided those same bikes at the Olympic Park's courtyard on the last days for those who wanted to take a small ride, pictures and such.

GodofWar12341 karma

What do you generally think of this year's Olympic games?

What steps could've been taken to make the Olympic in general a lot better for everyone?

cobawsky2 karma

The Olympic Games went fine as an Olympic Games should in matters of their standard.

But I think that part of the profit should be donated to local institutions, like orphanages or infrastructure that are not Olympic related. Etc...

Mrxcman921 karma

I'm late and am sorry if this has been already been answered, but what is your favorite sport at the paralympics?

cobawsky2 karma

athleticism, specially the paralympic athleticism with those mechanic legs. It fascinates me.

SkyCrusher9871 karma

I know a lot of the internet ripped on the 'apocalympics' so my main questions are, how was the overall general attitude by the visitors? And did you ever get sick?

cobawsky6 karma

I had more problems with Brazilians than foreigners visitors. The foreigners already came here with low expectations while Brazilians are always trying to "get the best spot and eat the best food", this is a saying here. So, Brazilians were always complaining because some of them want it all to be perfect.

I got sick yes, but not by Zika or anything that was being broadcasted by the media lately. I got sick from my stomach then intestine. But went to work anyway.

skybastion1 karma

What are the glaring differences between the set-up and preparations for the Olympics and Paralympics, if any? Are the accommodations different, and are the athletes treated the same?

cobawsky2 karma

Actually I can't inform you about that yet because I will start my work journey on the next week only. I will arrive there some days earlier to do some training with my team.

76lollypops1 karma

I'm probably a bit late, but how are you?

cobawsky1 karma

I am fine, despite some problems. The usual life problems.

newsjunkie81 karma

Did you volunteer for the World Cup too?

cobawsky3 karma

No. I like the Olympics. Perhaps I am the only Brazilian that hates football.

Blakwulf1 karma

Serious question here, bare with me, and also don't know if you'd know the answer to this.

The Olympic villages are semi-notorious for being very sexual, what with athletes in peak physical shape coming from all over the world to the same spot. I read this year that they allocated something ridiculous like 400,000 condoms. Do the Paralympics have the same... outcome?

cobawsky1 karma

Sorry, but I haven't heard anything like that. And I also did not know about these 'details' to be honest.

cobawsky2 karma

Lol, this is new to me. Seriously, and I am pretty sure that many people does not know about it.

DJay1011 karma

Which sports were you allowed to watch and you did watch?

cobawsky1 karma

I was allowed to watch the games on the arena I was working in, but I was given some other tickets from the committee, like Boxing and such.

TheGuyWhoLikesThings1 karma

Were you scared due to all the media coverage saying these Olympics would be possibly dangerous?

cobawsky2 karma

Well, my family was scared of terrorist attacks but, I am a big fan of politics and geopolitics. And given the present situation and the reasons involving the attacks around the world, I knew we would be safe. So, I was not scared, not even a little bit. What concerned me a little was going to another city far away alone, no friends. But all changed in the moment I arrived.

TooOldForThis---1 karma

What does the regular Brazilian man on the street think about the Ryan Lochte mess?

(Sorry if already answered, I skimmed and I'm way late to this party)


cobawsky2 karma

There were a lot of memes trolling him, and the media broadcasted a lot of things about him in a negative way.

TooOldForThis---1 karma

Thank you for answering. We had the same meme/media lalapalooza here but people weren't sure what to think about it all. We eventually found out about their behavior at the gas station and that their story did not add up. The thing is, though, that they were drunk and they were confronted by a man in a policeman's uniform holding a gun on them at night in a strange country. Given that and the language's kinda murky.

I am not defending their drunken behavior or the lying. Lochte saying that the guy put the gun to his head after he refused to lie down was especially outrageous. He is rightfully reviled as a liar and a drunken vandal here. Do Brazilians that you know think that your government made a big deal out of this mostly because they didn't want Brazil to look bad during the Olympics?

I'm sorry if I have offended you or your country by asking this. That was certainly not my intention...Politicians in the USA are so awful right now that we can't throw stones at anyone else!

Obrigado e prazer em conhecê-lo

cobawsky2 karma

It's ok. The great majority in the country were against the World Cup and the Games as well. Even though, the Arenas were almost on full capacity.

othersideofthestreet1 karma

How far before the games did you have to apply? I'm seriously interested for Tokyo!

cobawsky2 karma

The website started hiring in 2014, but I got to know about it only in july 2015, applied and invited for an interview one month later, then did some tests, then in january this year I was approved.

Neenunuuva1 karma

How much do the volunteers usually get paid??

Shadow7uk8 karma

Best question I've ever seen on an ama

cobawsky3 karma

Must give gold.

just_had_2_comment-3 karma

would you face any type of punishment or consequences if you said something negative, but true on here?

cobawsky10 karma

Definitely not.

just_had_2_comment2 karma

blink twice if they are watching

Hamsternoir-4 karma

From what we saw on the TV most of the events had poor attendance and the stadiums were mostly empty. Was this your experience and if so do you know why?

cobawsky6 karma

No, actually it happened in SOME arenas, but not for all the matches. The Future Arena was almost full most part of the time. This happened due to the bad times were are having regarding our economic crisis. People did not support the games, and these same people did not attend to it.

This won't happen during the Paralympics, I am pretty sure.

DigiMagic-5 karma

The people who organized the Olympic games invested billions of dollars to build and renovate the arenas. That, for the goal of earning more billions of dollars. Why volunteer for them?

cobawsky5 karma

Their money has nothing to do with my personal goals.

Mantisbog-6 karma

Was rio terrifying?

cobawsky11 karma

No, very safe. Armed forces everywhere.