Rio 2016 Olympics: All you need to know as the sporting spectacle starts

Scots Ross Murdoch and Lynsey Sharp will be competing in Rio (Getty Images)

TODAY sees the start of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

In the next three weeks, over 10,000 athletes from 206 countries will be taking part in South America’s first Games.

Doping scandals and bans on Russian athletes have made the build-up one of the most controversial ever, but the whole world will be watching one of the finest sporting spectacles in the world.

Here’s all you need to know about the event…

The location

Aerial view of Christ the Redeemer, Flamengo Beach, the Sugar Loaf and Guanabara Bay (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Aerial view of Christ the Redeemer, Flamengo Beach, the Sugar Loaf and Guanabara Bay (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Rio de Janeiro has Brazil’s second-highest population and is most famous for its stunning beaches, scenic landscape and the giant Christ the Redeemer statue towering above the city.

Population: 6.32 million

Climate: It’s winter in the Southern Hemisphere, but the temperature will reach an average of 21 degrees in Rio’s tropical climate.

Time difference: Rio is four hours behind GMT.

 

The opening ceremony

The Maracana stadium (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
The Maracana stadium (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

The opening ceremony, held at the famous Maracana Stadium, starts at 8pm local time (midnight UK on August 6) and is being broadcast on BBC One. You may want to record it if you need to be up on Sunday morning as it should last around four hours!

Most of what’s taking place in the ceremony is understandably being kept under wraps, but we do know that the Queen won’t be skydiving with James Bond.

Judging by the picture above, taken at the rehearsal, there will be fireworks along the stadium roof at some point, which is always a treat.

The man in charge of the ceremony, Fernando Meirelles, says the whole thing has been done on a budget.

“I think it is 12 times less [money] than London, 20 times less than Beijing…this makes it very challenging,” he admitted.

 

The Team GB flagbearer

The honour of leading Team GB in the athlete parade falls to our very own Andy Murray!

The Wimbledon champion said it will be one of the highlights of his career.

The Scots in Team GB

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48 Scots will be competing in Rio, including reigning Olympic tennis champion Murray.

Among them is Katherine Grainger, who is hoping to add to her incredible medal haul from four previous games.

Also targeting medal success are some of the Scots stars of Glasgow 2014, including runner Lynsey Sharp and swimmers Ross Murdoch and Hannah Miley.

Canoeing pair David Florence and Fiona Pennie are also worth keeping a look out for.

 

The famous faces in Team GB

Mo Farah with his 2 Olympic gold medals (PA Archive)
Mo Farah with his 2 Olympic gold medals (PA Archive)

 

Many of the famous faces from London 2012 will be competing in Rio for Team GB.

‘Super Saturday’ in London saw Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Greg Rutherford claim gold medals in front of the ecstatic home crowd in the Olympic Stadium.

All three will be hoping to defend their titles in Brazil.

There’s no Sir Chris Hoy this time around but his fellow knight Bradley Wiggins will be leading the charge in the velodrome. Double gold medallists in London and engaged couple Jason Kenny and Laura Trott will also be pedalling for glory.

Boxer Nicola Adams, the world’s first female Olympic champion, will be in the ring for GB and diver Tom Daley is once again taking the plunge in search of Gold.

Masters champion Danny Willett and fellow Englishman Justin Rose will be out on the golf course, and the Brownlee brothers are back in triathlon action.

Johanna Konta and Heather Watson join the Murray brothers, Dom Inglot, Colin Fleming and Kyle Edmund on the Rio tennis courts.

 

The others

Jamaica's Usain Bolt (PA Archive)
Jamaica’s Usain Bolt (PA Archive)

There are a few other stars you may have heard of…

Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt will be looking to win gold in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay in a THIRD successive Olympics. With his intention to retire in 2017, this would be his last Games and he’s aiming for the unprecedented ‘triple triple’.

US swimmer Michael Phelps has been in the news for other reasons since London 2012 over a drink driving charge and a spell in rehab. He’s tipped to make a big comeback in the pool this year.

The American women’s football team have a chance of being the first reigning World Cup champions to win gold medals.

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will be taking part in the tennis tournament.

Irish boxer Katie Taylor is also one to watch.

The venues

We’ve put together an interactive map of Rio with all the venues with some key events – click below to browse!

 

The new sports

Olympic Golf Course (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Olympic Golf Course (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Rugby sevens, a seven-a-side version of rugby union with origins in Melrose, takes its place among the events at the 2016 games.

Rugby was last played at the Olympics in an exhibition tournament at the 1936 Berlin games.

The sevens tournament proved popular at Glasgow’ Commonwealth Games, with excited crowds flocking to Ibrox for the matches.

Also reinstated is golf, last played at the Olympics 112 years ago in St. Louis.

Unfortunately for fans of baseball/softball, karate, skateboard, sports climbing and surfing, you’ll have to wait until Tokyo 2020 to see them.

 

The concerns

There has been a lot of talk about the spread of the Zika virus in South America and the risk to athletes and spectators travelling to the event.

Some sports stars, including golfers Jason Day and Rory McIlroy, have withdrawn from the Olympics over health concerns.

McIlroy said: “Even though the risk of infection from the Zika virus is considered low, it is a risk nonetheless and a risk I am unwilling to take.”

While the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the spread of Zika a global health emergency, they say there is a “very low risk” of the virus spreading globally as a result of the Olympics.

In addition to the Zika concerns, some competitors have complained about the state of the facilities in the Athlete’s Village, and there are worries over pollution in the water where some events will take place.

Rio’s high crime levels, continuing civil unrest in Brazil and the global threat of terrorism have all caused major security concerns ahead of the Games.


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