Jamaicans Revel In Rio!

Jamaicans Revel In Rio!

Once again the Jamaican tenacity and splendid athleticism have left the world in awe. This past summer, the XXXI Olympiad staged in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil showcased Jamaica’s undeniable talents and fervour to the world. Our athletes, have most definitely dominated the track and captured the hearts of people worldwide. It is with utmost pride and respect that we say, congratulations!  Thanks to all athletes for your immeasurable sacrifices and dedication; your efforts that produced medals, broke records and claimed multiple spots in the annals of history. Without those spectacular performances of our Olympians, there would be no Jamaican excitement and pride exuded through the activities that were hosted at Jamaica Tourist Board’s (JTB) Jamaica House.

The JTB and Jamaica House

The Ministry of Tourism through the JTB took the opportunity to relaunch Jamaica House in Brazil following its premier success at the 2012 London Olympics. The overarching objectives of the Jamaica House initiative were explained to PANACHE by the Director of Tourism at the JTB, Paul Pennicook. He stated that “the Jamaica Tourist Board uses the Jamaica House platform at major international sporting events to promote Destination Jamaica and share Jamaica’s culture, heritage and cuisine. He added that “Jamaica House was also the nucleus for successful networking sessions for the destination. Tourism officials, as well as our partners, engaged local tour operators, travel agents and airline partners in business-to-business meetings to drive visitors to the island.”

Brazil and Jamaica share a love for music, food and socializing, therefore, the atmosphere created in this staging of Jamaica House was expected to attract much attention from locals and tourists alike. When compared to the 2012 event in London which had approximately 35000 patrons giving support, this staging saw support from some 20000 patrons. Though the numbers were substantially smaller in Rio, it must be noted that a large portion of the support received for the London event came from members of the Jamaican diaspora.

The Atmosphere

The event was held from the 10th – 21st of August at the Prado Jockey Club, Gàvea which is located to the southern end of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.  The festivities ran from 2pm to midnight and showcased Jamaica’s culture in the form of presentations, culinary exposés, dance classes and consumer promotions. The cuisine was prepared by Glenroy Walker, senior group Executive Chef at Sandals Resorts; his menu included authentic Jamaican Jerk Pork and Chicken, Curry and a plethora of other dishes. Without a doubt, music was a central attraction and the event had a resident disc jockey, DJ Narity, who entertained patrons nightly.  Additionally, other performances were done on select nights by some of Jamaica’s musical ambassadors namely, Kymani Marley, I-Octane, Nature and Luciano.

DJ Narity gave PANACHE his overview of the event in saying “Once I arrived at the venue, it literally reminded me of Jamaica, the layout of the venue itself had a laid back yet fun vibe to it.” He expressed that throughout the days Reggae music was the dominant genre being played but the crowds were quite fine with whatever he chose to play.

According to the JTB, Jamaica House Rio 2016 was ranked as one of the best places to be by Brazilian media houses and was captured by other entities such as CNN, MSNBC, E News along with others throughout the period of the Olympic games. It was also mentioned that not only was there appeal to locals and tourists, a myriad of athletes from multiple countries visited the event as well; as a result, thousands of people had to be turned away each night due to the unavailability of space. A further example of the large numbers of patrons that arrived was given by the JTB; it was stated that the maximum quota of 1000 meal servings per night was always exceeded due to the large crowds and the high demand for Jamaican authentic cuisine.

The Experiences

PANACHE is delighted to share some of the wonderful experiences had by Jamaicans who visited the Jamaica House.

Director Pennicook stated: “I had the opportunity to be there, and each night, long lines of patrons snaked around the street to experience a taste of Jamaica through music, live performances, food and beverage offerings.  In fact, activities at Jamaica House whet the appetite of the over 20,000 patrons with the diverse and unforgettable experiences that await when they choose Jamaica as they vacation on the island.”

As the resident DJ, Narity shared that there were many things to mark as memorable happenings in Jamaica House every night. “On any night Jamaica competed in a final there was a heightened level of excitement. But I would say my most memorable moment was when Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, Kemar Bailey- Cole and Nickel Ashmeade won the 4x100 meter final. It sealed Usain's record as being the only Olympian to achieve the feat of winning 3 gold medals in 3 consecutive Olympics. The venue was full to capacity and everyone there was jumping and celebrating.”

Mrs Jean Lowrie-Chin, Communications Consultant, Seniors Advocate, Author and Newspaper Columnist also took the time to share her Rio, Jamaica House memories.  Mrs. Chin summed up the experience in three words: “Lovely, really excellent.” She commented on the quality of the food and lauded Chef Glenroy Walker by saying that “the food tasted really authentic, the Chef was wonderful.” With respect to the musical performances, she stated that “one of the memorable events for me was the night Kymani Marley performed his father’s classics. It rained that night and what amazed me were the long lines of people outside standing in the rain with the hope of entering the venue.”

Mrs Chin’s message to the athletes was simply this, “a big thank you, you made the trip worthwhile and you made us Jamaicans extremely proud.” For Jamaicans, she added that “it was a huge achievement on the part of our athletes at this Rio Olympics, and we must remember that with or without medals they are all Olympians.” 

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