Former RLI doctor talks about life behind the scenes at Rio Olympics

Brazils former volleyball player Isabel carries the Olympic torch in front of the Christ the Redeemer statue on its way for the opening ceremony.
Brazils former volleyball player Isabel carries the Olympic torch in front of the Christ the Redeemer statue on its way for the opening ceremony.

Retired hospital consultant Dr John Davies is out in Rio to volunteer at the Olympics as part of the ‘field of play recovery’ medical team, and he will be sending us a diary of his experiences, beginning with Friday’s opening ceremony.

“Tonight, downtown Rio is like an occupied city.

Dr John Davies, who will be volunteering as a medic at the Rio Olympics. He is pictured during his stint at the London Olympics in 2012.

Dr John Davies, who will be volunteering as a medic at the Rio Olympics. He is pictured during his stint at the London Olympics in 2012.

Traffic is diverted from whole streets so that military lorries can park en echelon, guarded at each end by squads of soldiers, while the nonchalant Cariocas, the Rio residents, walk by.

The biggest street of all , the Avenida President Vargas, normally four carriageways with a total of twelve lanes, is blocked off in one direction. Brazil is determined that these Games shall be safe and as peaceful as they should be.

Peaceful , but not quiet! The Old Docks of Rio, long derelict, have been given a new dress. The best graffiti in the world, multichromed images of indigenous people, from Inuits to Australian Aboriginal people and of course South Americans, cover half a kilometre of wall facing the harbour.

Complex black and white designs of dense jungly growth face them and the effect is the dry opposite of boring architecture.

The road leads to Prada Maua, Maua Place, designated an Olympic Fan Zone, so that all those without the privilege that I’m looking forward to can watch the Games on giant screens.

And I am with them tonight, as I am not required in the medical team until tomorrow evening.

Cariocas are naturally enthusiastic, and they were already dancing, cheering and singing along with favourites played by the bigest DJ I’ve ever seen.

He was working so hard that how he keeps that bulk I don’t know, dancing on stage, working his decks and the crowd, so they were ready for the opening ceremony.

And what a good one!

Brazil had made clear that the budget was a lot less than the UK had spent but the film director Fernando Meirelles made clever use of digital images, the samba skills of Rio, and the Olympic Rings not just in fireworks but green forest seeds.

I’m really looking forward to a great Games.”