RIO DE JANEIRO—Before the start of the Rio Summer Olympics, a consensus opinion was building that the Summer Games would be overshadowed by a slew of mounting problems. Much like the 2014 Winter Olympics, the hashtag #RioProblems was gaining nearly the same traction as #SochiProblems.
There were widespread reports of the Zika scare, muggings, slow transportation, food shortages, empty seats, a green diving pool and heavy winds painting an ugly picture of the first Olympics in South America. At times, the complications seemed to dominate coverage so much that the Games appeared doomed for failure.
However, as the Games progressed the problems began to mostly dissipate and either seemed exaggerated in the first place or exacerbated by petty whiners.
Similar to Sochi, the more than two weeks in Rio actually turned out to be a success. There has been mostly excited yet responsible fan engagement, the competition has been intense and respectful, and the weather, aside from a few scattered showers, has generally been pleasant. Only some questionable actions by American male swimmers has tainted an otherwise impressive August in Rio.
Spectators walking along the Olympic Park provided mostly positive reviews of their Olympic experience.
A 21-year-old German man walking the grounds with his training group described the city of Rio as "beautiful" and said, "everyone has been helpful and very nice." He also described the volunteers, easy to spot in their yellow-collared shirts, as "very nice and helpful."
Local Rio residents and Brazilians visiting from other cities raved about how the Olympics' organization. Daniele Cavalcante, who lives in the Barra da Tijuca neighborhood, felt that the tickets were too expensive but said, "for Brazil, the Olympics have been more accessible" than she would have expected.
"(Overall) the service in Brazil is [usually] bad," Cavalcante said, with her friend from the capital of Brasilia nodding in agreement.
Ken and Toi Lay, a married couple from Orlando, Florida, had big praise of Rio and the Olympics.
"From a safety point of view, the presence of the police and the military has added to the feeling of safety," Ken Lay said. "(There were) a few dicey neighborhoods that we have taken a cab through and glad we didn't have to stop there. But for the most part we have felt pretty safe."
Toi Lay had been to the 1996 Olympics while living in Atlanta, and said there were better transportation options than Rio, but still spoke glowingly of Rio and the Games. "It's been a great experience —I mean the city's great," she said.
However, the Lays weren't pleased with the transportation as Uber connections have been spotty, and were quick to dismiss the cuisine at the concession stands. Toi gave the tin-foil-wrapped food an "F grade," and Ken said it was "one of the worst experiences we had." But both were very pleased with the dining options outside the Olympic grounds.
It would be hard to argue with them. The bland double cheeseburgers and flavorless chicken sandwiches at Carioca Arena tasted like something one would find at a bad elementary school cafeteria, while restaurants in neighborhoods like Copacabana, Leblon and Ipanema were met with high marks.
Steve Grainger made the trek from Newcastle, England, with his two sons and made sure to check out cycling events. He spoke about his Rio Olympics experience with great fondness.
"It's excellent. It's a really friendly city with really good fun and a really good atmosphere. The Olympics have gone well," Grainger said.
But it hasn't totally been a smooth ride.
"Well, I was pick pocketed [on the subway]," Grainger said with a light laugh. He added that the petty theft could have happened anywhere.
"It was my fault. I should have been wiser."