RIO DE JANEIRO – Phil Dalhausser of Team USA held the ball in his hand as the rest of the beach volleyball players prepared themselves for his serve. The Brazilian fans at the Copacabana Beach stadium let out a cheer: ‘Ohhhhhhhhhh!’
They kept it going until Dalhausser jumped and hit the ball, like an American football crowd getting revved up before a kickoff. And then, in unison, they completed the cheer:
And thus, the trolling of American athletes continued.
“I was telling him, I didn’t realize that’s what they were saying,” said Nick Lucena, Dalhausser’s teammate.
“I wish someone would have told me that. I would have pretended I was spraying myself in bug spray,” said Dalhausser, mimicking the action with his arms.
As the Games have progressed, this has become a national mockery of some U.S. athletes by Brazilian fans: Seizing on the pre-Olympic hysteria over Zika, the mysterious virus spread by mosquitos.
Golfer Jordan Spieth and NBA star Stephen Curry were two athletes who allegedly factored it into their decisions to skip the games. And then one athlete that did decide to go, Hope Solo of the now-eliminated U.S. women’s national soccer team, did this before traveling to Rio:
— Hope Solo (@hopesolo) July 22, 2016
And then Brazilian fans responded with this when the Americans began their Rio tournament:
Olha aí a torcida mineira pegando no pé da Hope Solo. pic.twitter.com/0kJtGWhdPK
— Uai Tevê (@uaiteve) August 3, 2016
They chanted “Zika” and singing “Ole Ole” with Zika inserted into it.
Even after Solo was ousted from the Games, the chants remain, as Dalhausser and Lucena heard. (Curiously, it’s not evident when American’s Kerri Walsh-Jennings and April Ross play their matches in beach volleyball.)
But this is the kind of passion we’ve seen from Brazilian fans during the course of the Olympics, even if their enthusiasm has at times pushed the envelope so far that the IOC has had to address it.
“What we’re looking for here is to balance passion and good behavior, without killing passion. It’s a process of approaching the fans, discussing things with them, through the media, through the social networks, but we like to have passion around and we like them to be passionate about sport,” said Mario Andrada, Rio 2016 spokesman, early on in the Games. “We’d rather have some passion than none.”
While Solo, Dalhausser and Lucena were singled out, Brazilian have also spread the “Zika!” chant to other rivals, using it at a recent men’s soccer match against Colombia.
Listen to Yahoo Sports’ Greg Wyshynski podcast from Rio on GRANDSTANDING, featuring Olympians and NBC cultural correspondents Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski!
Live from Rio: Tara & Johnny Q & A, green fart water, and more: