By Alexandra Ulmer
RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Families, pensioners and young couples in Brazilian shirts cheered on the country's female beach volleyball players competing on Rio's Copacabana beach on Friday.
The catch is, the crowd was not clapping from inside the imposing 12,000-person beach volleyball arena.
In fact, they were camped out on the beach - plopped on a big sand mound that allowed them to partially see into the arena, hear the music blare and referee whistle, and catch all the action on a big screen facing them.
They could not actually see the game, but the dozen or so Brazilians perched just meters from crashing Atlantic waves on Friday still soaked up the raucous arena's atmosphere.
"Here I don't pay anything!" laughed retired metallurgist Aluisio Marcelino da Silva, who lives in the Copacabana beach district, where sun-lovers from across the economic spectrum famously converge.
While delighted that his city - which he referred to by its nickname "Marvellous City" - was hosting the Games, he lamented that Olympic tickets to see Brazilian pair Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas were out of reach for him.
With some 20 percent of Rio's residents living in slums and the country mired in a tough economic crisis, many Brazilians have little cash or appetite for Olympic tickets.
Spectators, unlike London in 2012, have not rushed to snap up tickets and television pictures, broadcast around the world, show empty seats in almost every venue.
But beach volleyball, one of Brazil's favourite sports, defied the norm on Friday, with fans rushing to scoop up tickets to see the Brazilian pair face off against China's Fan Wang and Yuan Yue.
When some Brazilians were left without tickets, they resorted to "jeitinho," a local word that refers to using flair for improvisation and ingenuity to resolve an issue, to still get a slice of the Copacabana experience.
Maria Luiza Santos, for instance, made her away around the arena, kicked off her sandals, and watched the game on the screen inside the arena.
"It's very nice here, with the beach, this Copacabana breeze," said Santos, as vendors tried to tempt the growing impromptu crowd with cassava snacks and shrimp.Will she come back again?
"I plan to!" (Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer.; Additional reporting by Stephen Eisenhammer. Editing
by Neil Robinson)
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