Road to Rio: 8 fast facts to get clued up about this year’s Olympics

This could be the most colourful Olympic games in decades, here are some fast facts about Rio 216

Graham Ruthven
Graham Ruthven - Special to Al Arabiya English
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Four years have passed the great and good of the sporting world gathered in London. Now it’s Rio de Janeiro’s turn to host the Olympics, with the Brazilian city set to put on a spectacle this summer. The build-up has certainly not been without its controversies, but Rio knows how to throw a party. This could be the most colourful Olympic games in decades. Here are some fast facts about Rio 216.

Europe, North America, Asia and even Australasia have all hosted the Olympic games at one point over the event’s 120-year history, but this will be the first time that the games have been hosted by a South American nation. Rio de Janeiro saw off competing bids from Tokyo, Chicago and Madrid to host the Olympics and will showcase the best of Brazilian and South American culture.

A number of different sports have been inducted as Olympic sports in recent years, and now after success at the Commonwealth Games Rugby Sevens will make an appearance in Rio de Janeiro this summer. The seven-a-side variant of the sport sees matches last only 15 minutes, with the USA expected to win medals as Rugby Sevens is given its first outing as an Olympic sport.

Golf was last played at the 1900 and 1904 Olympic games but after a decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) the sport will make its return this summer. However, many of the game’s biggest names have pulled out citing concerns over Zika virus. Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy, among others, will be missing in Brazil this summer, but Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler and Justin Rose will all be targeting the gold medal.

Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium is one of sport’s great sporting venues having hosted two World Cup finals and countless football matches over the course of its 66-year history. Now it will host the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2016 Olympics, with its capacity for 78,000 spectators making it one of the biggest Olympic stadiums of all-time. It will be a fitting setting for the opening of the games.

For the first time in the history of the Olympic games, athletes forced to flee their homelands will be allowed to compete under the Olympic flag. The IOC said five to 10 refugees are expected to qualify for the event, with the famous rings shown as their flag instead of the flag of their home nation. What anthem will they sing on the podium, however, if one of those athletes wins a medal?

In the current climate security is as important as ever when it comes to large sporting events, and nowhere will that be accentuated more than at this summer’s Olympic games. Around 85,000 policemen and soldiers will be deployed in Rio this summer, meaning that the security presence will be twice as big as it was in London four years ago.

The Olympic games stretches any city which hosts it, and this summer’s event will be no different for Rio. There will be 33 different venues for the games, with those venues grouped in four different regions of the Brazilian city - Copacabana, Barra de Tijuca, Deodoro and Maracana. Football matches will also be held in the cities of Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Salvador and Sao Paulo, spreading the games across the entire country.

The most popular events at this summer’s games in Rio de Janeiro will be football, basketball, volleyball and handball, with ticket prices ranging from $40 for some of the swimming events to as much as $3,000 for some of the premium seats at the Maracana opening ceremony. 7.5 million tickets in total will be available, making this one of the best attended sporting events in history.

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