Fans arriving at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro get more than just the chance to witness sporting history. As well as enjoying world-class competitions, spectators can try new sports for themselves.
International Federations across a variety of disciplines are offering a total of 15 sport experience activities, allowing visitors to Olympic venues to get a feel for something different and perhaps even inspire new interests.
In the first week of Rio 2016, those with tickets to the archery at the city’s famous Sambodrome venue could get to grips with a bow and arrow. Along with 10 targets for fans to hit, volunteer coaches were on hand to give tips and advice as Olympic supporters lined up to take aim.
At the Deodoro Olympic Park, newcomers to rugby could try out the inflatable pitch in the rugby experience zone before heading in to see the sport make its return to the Games after an absence of almost 100 years.
The International Fencing Federation (FIE) organised quick training sessions with coaches and plastic equipment before and after competitions at the Carioca 3 arena.
“We are always working to increase the popularity of fencing around the world,” said Alisher Usmanov, President of the FIE. “The introduction of new rules and technology will make fencing easier to follow for spectators, which will enable the sport to attract greater audiences. Rio 2016 will provide a gateway to a wider fan base in South America, a region where the sport has not historically been as popular as in Europe.”
With golf also making its Olympic return, spectators have two opportunities to test their skills across four different activities that run from 11-14 August and again from 17-20 August. They include inflatable golf coaching nets, golf simulators, a six-hole putting course and a 10-metre long putt challenge. After the Games, the equipment will be donated to the Brazilian Golf Confederation so the host nation can continue to grow the sport.
“Spectators are an integral part of any golf tournament, and the International Golf Federation is excited to welcome Bridgestone as the exclusive, presenting partner of the interactive Fan Zone located on-site at the Olympic Golf Course,” said Antony Scanlon, Executive Director of the International Golf Federation (IGF). “This is truly an historic week as golf returns to the Olympic Games after 112 years and the Bridgestone Fan Zone will bring an additional level of excitement to the overall experience for the thousands of spectators and help them discover why millions of people worldwide love our game.”
Among the events with sport experiences running throughout Rio 2016 are badminton, boxing and equestrian. At the Deodoro equestrian centre, fans will find a one-ton mechanical horse simulator normally used by professional and amateur riders to practice their balance, along with picture opportunities and information about the sport.
“It’s a departure from tradition, some might say it’s pretty radical, to be reaching out to new audiences in this way and we’re excited to help unravel some of the mysteries of our sport and enable everyone to get involved,” said Sabrina Ibáñez, General Secretary of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI). “We have a sport for all ages where men and women compete side by side, and there’s nothing quite like the magical partnership between horse and rider.”
She added: “Equestrian sport has been part of the Olympic movement for 104 years and is growing in popularity across the globe, so it is the perfect opportunity to harness the excitement and inspire a whole new world of fans to engage in the sport.”