Your Official 2016 Rio Olympics Cheat Sheet
Opening ceremony details, athletes to know, and WTF is happening in Rio.
BY Maggie Maloney | Aug 6, 2016 | Fitness & Health
The Rio Olympics have finally arrived! Here's everything you need to know about the biggest sporting events and a breakdown of exactly what's happening in Rio right now. From the many stars of Team USA and the creation of the Refugee Olympic Team to a Gisele appearance (!!), don't miss a single exciting moment of this year's summer Olympics.
The Opening Ceremony
The 2016 Olympics kicked off with an epic opening ceremony at the famous Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. The ceremony included a procession of the athletes, including Team USA's flag bearer Michael Phelps and performances by top Brazilian performers.
CNN revealed some of the night's highlights, including a 12-year-old rapper, two legendary Brazilian singers, Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso, and dancers from 12 samba schools in Rio. Anitta, the 23-year-old Brazilian musician who is known for contemporary pop music that fuses hip-hop, Jamaican reggae, and Brazilian beats together, will also perform, according to The Los Angeles Times.
And since we have Brazil to thank for some of the world's most stunning supermodels, you can expect some appearances that will rival the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. Gisele Bündchen appeared as the "girl from Ipanema." Lea T, another Brazilian model, made history with her appearence as the first transgender person to play such a role at an Olympic opening ceremony.
Just days before the opening ceremony, organisers cut a controversial skit in which Gisele is apparently robbed by a black child from the slums of Rio. Critics said it reinforced a racist stereotype about young black men.
There is one way the Rio opening ceremony will differ from past Olympics—its budget. Brazil is currently experiencing one of the worst recessions in the country's history, so the ceremony will reflect the more reserved economic climate.
Fernando Merielles, an acclaimed movie director and one of the three creative directors working on the opening ceremony, told CNN that the budget for the four main events—the opening and closing ceremonies for the Olympic and Paralympic Games—is USD55.9 million. Merielles is best known for his 2002 film City of God, which depicts the horrible violence gripping Rio. For the film, he received an Academy Award nomination for best director.
"Most of this money is for security, and all the stuff around the show. I think it is 12 times less than London, 20 times less than Beijing," Merielles explained. "This makes it very challenging."
"This is not an opulent event given the situation in Brazil," Marco Balich, who is an executive producer of the ceremony, told Reuters. "It does not have the grandiosity of Beijing, the huge special effects of Athens, the eccentricity and technological skills of London. It is an analogue opening ceremony."
The show will highlight Brazil's natural wonders, the Brazilian smile, and "gambiarra," a Brazilian expression that means to solve a problem with improvised solutions.
Budgeting issues aside, there were 4,800 volunteers taking part in the ceremony, along with about 11,000 athletes from more than 200 countries. Three billion people around the world were expected to tune in. But there's only one Gisele.
Athletes to Know
Team USA, Swimming
Star event: 800-meter freestyle
At 19-years-old, Ledecky is already considered the "most dominant swimmer in the world" and Rio marks her second Olympic appearance. People are still talking about her stunning victory in the 800-meter freestyle at the London Olympics, where she broke a 23-year-old American record. Now, Ledecky holds the world records in the 400, 800, and 1,500 meter freestyles and is expected to win Olympic gold.
Team USA, Gymnastics
Star event: Individual all-around
She's been called the "best gymnast that has ever lived" and "in a class all by herself" by gymnastic greats Nastia Liukin and Mary Lou Retton. She is the most decorated American female gymnast ever, has her own gymnastics move, "the Biles," and is no doubt headed for Olympic gold.
Refugee Olympic Team, Swimming
Star event: 100m freestyle
18-year-old Mardini is heading to the Olympics as part of the first-ever Refugee Olympic Team. Mardini and her family escaped Syria in August 2015, according to The New York Times. When the engine failed on her overcrowded dinghy bound for Greece, Mardini and her sister swam the boat to an island for three and a half hours. The games haven't even started, but Mardini already embodies the strength and resilience of a true Olympian. Her friend, fellow Syrian refugee and champion swimmer Rami Anis, is also part of the Refugee Olympic Team.
The Trio to Rio: Leila, Liina, and Lily Luik
Team Estonia, Track and Field
Star event: Women's marathon
Leila, Liina, and Lily Luik, 30-year-old triplets from Estonia, are called the Trio to Rio. Believed to be the first set of triplets to ever qualify for the Olympics, the sisters will be competing in the women's marathon event.
Team USA, Fencing
Star event: Women's individual sabre
Muhammad is a rare find on the US fencing teams for a number of reasons. Most notably, she is the first American woman to wear a hijab in the Olympics. But Muhammad is also unique because this is her first appearance at the Olympics at the age of 30. The only fencer who is older is Mariel Zagunis, who will be appearing in her fourth Olympics.
Team Jamaica, Track and Field
Star event: 200-meter dash
Rio marks Bolt's fourth time at the Olympics, proving that the world's fastest man has still got it. The most decorated springer of all time currently has six gold medals in the 100m, 200m and 4x100 relay from previous games and will be defending all of them in Rio. But his favourite event? The 200m, according to the New York Times.
Team USA, Track and Field
Star event: Decathlon
Eaton had his breakout moment during the 2012 Olympic trials when he not only made the Olympic team but also broke the event's world record. And that was just the trials. He went on to win gold in the event, and then broke his own world record in 2015. At Rio, he'll be defending that gold medal. His wife, Brianna Theisen-Eaton, is also an Olympian and will be competing in the heptathlon events in Rio. A match made in Olympian heaven.
Team USA, Wrestling
Star event: Men's freestyle wrestling
Burroughs established his own personal motto "all I see is gold," with good reason. The three-time world champion will be back in Rio to defend his Olympic gold medal from the London Olympics in wrestling. He's determined to be the third American wrestler to win a second freestyle gold because, as he told NJ.com, "it will cement me as one of the greatest."
Team Great Britain, Diving
Star event: 10m platform
Daley is only 22, but Rio will be his third Olympics appearance. The champion diver won bronze in 2012 on the 10m platform event, but he is more determined than ever to win Olympic gold. "I'm more advanced with my experience, my power, my ability, just my mental stability and how I want to fight for every single thing in a competition," Daley told The Guardian. "I'm in a different place than I was four years ago."
Team USA, Swimming
Star event: 200m Butterfly
Yes, Phelps at the Olympics isn't newsworthy. He's the most decorated Olympian of all time, but this Olympic appearance is still historic: Phelps is the first man to make a fifth appearance on the US Olympic swimming team. After announcing his retirement after the London Olympics, he returned to swimming in 2014 and is already back to his gold-medal shape. In his first Olympic appearance back in 2000, Phelps swam the 200m butterfly and came in fifth place. He now has two gold medals and the world record in the event but got silver in London, making this year's 200m butterfly one to watch.
Rio in the News
The Rio Olympics, like past Olympic Games, have been in the news nonstop. Unlike past years, however, this nonstop coverage is mainly about turmoil in the host country of Brazil. Here's a quick review of the problems plaguing Rio.
Political crisis: Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was suspended on May 12, 2016, over accusations of breaking budget laws and is now being impeached. Michel Temer has stepped in as acting president but he is also deeply unpopular.
In June, the state government of Rio de Janeiro announced a "state of public calamity," which authorized "exceptional measures" in the form of cash aid from the federal government to ensure that the Olympic Games go on as planned, according to The Telegraph.
Economic ruin: The state of Rio is bankrupt. Although the entire country is facing a deep recession, Rio has been hit particularly hard. The state government has struggled to pay the salaries and pensions, while public hospital have been lacking basic supplies, The Washington Post reports. The New York Times cites the expansion of the government payroll and reckless spending in preparation for the Olympics as two reasons the financial disaster is so dire. The biggest financial concern: security. Rio was granted an USD860 million loan to cover the cost of security for the Olympics.
Security concerns: Security is a paramount issue in Rio, both as it relates to the Olympics and in general. NPR reported on statistics that show how significantly crime is on the rise: murders are up 15 percent and robbery is up by 30 percent from last year. The political and economic crises have cut the state's security budget by a third. That means that police and firefighters have also not been paid and, subsequently, aren't doing much to keep the city safe. They even warned tourists they couldn't keep them safe in Rio, according to CNN. But the country is attempting to keep athletes and fans safe. Brazil will deploy 85,000 soldiers and police officers, which is about twice the number that was used for the London Olympics in 2012.
Zika: The Zika outbreak is probably the most widely-known issue ahead of the Rio games. A number of athletes, including Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Lee-Anne Pace and Simona Halep decided to stay home instead of risk contracting the disease. Hope Solo, the goalie of the US soccer team, faced backlash after voicing her concerns about Zika. During a soccer game against New Zealand this week in Rio, she was booed by the crowd that was chanting "Zika, Zika." The CDC has a travel warning for those traveling to the games, although back in May, Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CNN, "there is no public health reason to cancel or delay the Olympics." Another widespread health concern is with the heavily polluted water some athletes will be competing in.
Olympic Village and Housing Concerns: When athletes began arriving at the Olympic Village in late July, a new batch of problems became known. First, the team leader of the Australian Olympic team decided to keep their 700 athletes and staffers outside of the village because of electrical and plumbing problems for two days, according to People. But then, when the athletes were allowed to move in, many of them took to social media to show their less than luxurious living situations.
And with that, the Games has begun. Check NBC for full coverage of the Olympics in your area.
From: Esquire US