The 2016 Olympic Games are set to kick off this evening at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. When they do, one of antiquity’s greatest traditions will set in motion nearly three weeks of competitions ranging from swimming, to rowing and basketball, to archery and volleyball, to table tennis.
It takes a lot to navigate the world’s most collaborative athletic endeavor, which this year will feature over 10,000 athletes from around the globe. Canadians from coast to coast will soon be cheering on the 313 athletes who will sport the maple leaf at Rio 2016.
Before the cauldron is light, did you know…
- They take (more than) a village
7.5 million tickets are available for sale, with prices ranging from $40 to $3,000, which is what it’ll cost you for an elite seat at the Opening Ceremonies. Those will take place at Maracanã Stadium, site of the highest attendant soccer game in history — the 1950 World Cup Final where 173,000 squeezed in that day despite a capacity of just 78,000.
It’ll take 60,000 meals per day to feed the athletes, made by many of the 70,000 or so volunteers required to host the events. The games are expected to prompt the assignment of 85,000 soldiers and police officers, the most ever deployed for a single event in the history of Brazil. The security presence will double that of London’s in 2012.
- They’re going where they’ve never gone before
The Olympic torch will be in unfamiliar territory when it finally completes its 3.5-month journey to Rio on Friday. The summer Games have never before been hosted in South America. Representatives from 206 countries are set to compete in what will be a historic tournament from the start.
- They features the fleetest of foot
The Rio Games will be the last hoorah for Usain Bolt, the fastest man alive and one of the two most recognizable Olympians in the world. His achievements are unmatched: Bolt is already the first sprinter ever to win consecutive golds at the 100 meters, 200 meters and 4×100 meter relay. Now he’s eyeing a third straight gold in each. But the way he wins may be even more impressive: Bolt takes only 40 to 41 steps to complete his 100 meters, while other elite sprinters require 42.5 to 46 steps, according to Sports Illustrated.
- They feature best on the bars too
Japanese gymnast Kohei Uchimura, known colloquially as “Superman” in his country, is looking to become the first man to repeat as all-around champion since Sawao Kato, also of Japan, did so in 1972. Uchimura has won six straight world all-around titles, while no other gymnast has ever won more than three, according to Sports Illustrated.
- They will have golf, once again
Olympic athletes will hit the links for the first time since 1904, as golf’s 112-year absence in the Games comes to an end this year. However, sixteen of the world’s top 100 players won’t be participating due to concerns over the Zika Virus. The list of stars staying home includes No.1 Jason Day (Australia), No.2 Dustin Johnson (USA), Jordan Spieth (USA), Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland) and Adam Scott (Australia), according to CBSSports.com
- They’ll have another newcomer, too
Rugby is also returning to the Olympic Games, for the first time in 92 years. The United States took gold in rugby’s final Olympic year, 1924, defeating heavily favored France, who was also the host nation, 17-3, in a championship match watched by 50,000 spectators. This year’s games will feature rugby in its modern “sevens” form, which will be a part of the 2020 Games as well.
- They have an eco-friendly mascot and an inspiring slogan
The motto of the Games is “Viva sua paixão,” translated from Portuguese to mean “Live your passion. The Olympic mascot, named “Vinicius,” after musician Vinicius de Moraes, is a walking, jumping, colorful mixture of Brazilian animals.
- They aren’t over in August
Some of the world’s most inspiring and amazing athletes will compete in the Paralympic Games from September 7 to September 18. Athletes will compete in 24 sports including Paralympic-specific sports like goalball, sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball.
Enjoy the Games! Go Canada!