Scott Says

A black market for bottle caps? Olympic rule has made me carry them everywhere

I keep some of these bottle caps handy at all times, because in the Olympic Park you can’t buy a bottle of water or soda without the attendant taking the cap off. I bought other drinks elsewhere and kept the caps.
I keep some of these bottle caps handy at all times, because in the Olympic Park you can’t buy a bottle of water or soda without the attendant taking the cap off. I bought other drinks elsewhere and kept the caps. Scott Fowler

One of the most sought-after items among journalists inside the Olympic Park in Rio costs practically nothing to make. You can often find them littering the ground in a parking lot in the United States.

But there is something of a black market in bottle caps – so much so that I have taken to keeping 3-4 of them around at all times in my backpack.

The reason is simple. At the Olympic venues, for vague “safety reasons,” they will sell you bottled water or a bottled soft drink but they will insist on taking off the cap first. Then they hand you your drink, which is fine if you plan on gulping it all down right then but not so fine if you are trying to balance a computer, an iPhone and a tape recorder as well.

The first time I found this out I had made a 30-minute near-sprint across the vast Olympic Park from one event to the other. I bought three bottled drinks (they don’t sell fountain drinks at the venues at all). They were two bottled waters and a bottled Coke. The woman who sold them to me insisted, in Portugese and by demonstrating, that the tops were coming off first.

So there I was, trying to hold three drinks and all my stuff at once.

I solved this by gulping down one of the waters and managed to balance the other two without spilling them onto my computer. Ever since then, I have kept bottle caps around (from drinks I bought in other places). And I have seen several journalists trading them back and forth like pins.

PADDLER PROBLEMS: While the seven American swimmers based in North Carolina have had all sorts of success at the Olympics, the two whitewater paddlers who live in the Charlotte area have not been as fortunate.

Kayaker Michal Smolen did not advance to the final of his lone event on Wednesday, ending up with a 12th-place finish.

Then Casey Eichfeld, who made the U.S. team in two events, finished seventh in single canoe on Tuesday. Eichfeld, a three-time Olympian, and his partner Devin McEwan have one more chance to medal on Thursday. They will compete together in the double canoe.

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