The 31st Summer Olympic Games will be held from the 5th to the 21st of August in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Summer Olympics is the biggest sporting event in the globe and the 2016 Edition of the games will see the participation of 11,383 athletes representing 205 National Olympic committees.
The Rio 2016 will also feature Kosovo and South Sudan for the first time.
Nine athletes will represent Sri Lanka at the 31st Olympics in 6 disciplines.
Athletes will compete in 42 Olympics sport disciplines for 308 sets of medals.
Rugby sevens which Sri Lankan failed to qualify and Golf have been included for the Rio games after it was ratified by the International Olympic Committee in 2009.
The multi disciplined event will be hosted in 37 venues in the host city and at 5 venues in the cities of São Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Brasília, and Manaus in Brazil.
The opening ceremony of Rio 2016 will take place at the Maracanã Stadium on the 5th of August.
An estimated three billion people will watch the ceremony, which has taken five years to produce and includes 300 dancers, 5,000 volunteers and 12,000 costumes.
The 31st Olympic Games will conclude on the 21st of August with the closing ceremony at the Maracanã Stadium.
The 31st Olympic Games will conclude on the 21st of August with the closing ceremony at the Maracanã Stadium.
The Summer Olympic Games or the Games of the Olympiad was first held in 1896, and is organised every four years, by the International Olympic Committee.
Medals are awarded in each event, with gold medals for first place, silver for second and bronze for third, a tradition that started in 1904.
The Winter Olympic Games were also created due to the success of the Summer Olympics.
The Olympics have increased in scope from a 42-event competition with fewer than 250 male competitors from 14 nations in 1896 to 302 events with 10,768 competitors from 204 nations in 2012.
Eighteen countries have hosted the Summer Olympics, with Great Britain 2012 being the most recent.
The United States has hosted four Summer Olympics (1904, 1932, 1984, and 1996), more than any other nation, and Great Britain has hosted three Summer Olympics (1908, 1948, and 2012), all in London.
Three cities have hosted two Summer Olympics: Los Angeles (1932 and 1984), Paris (1900 and 1924), and Athens (1896 and 2004).
The only Olympics held in the Southern Hemisphere so far have both been in Australia (Melbourne 1956 and Sydney 2000).
In 2016, Rio de Janeiro will host the first Summer Games in South America and the first Summer Games held during the local winter season.
Five countries – Greece, Australia, France, Great Britain and Switzerland – have been represented at all Summer Olympic Games.
The only country to have won at least one gold medal at every Summer Olympic Games is Great Britain.
The United States leads the all-time medal table.
Sri Lanka at Olympics
After Independence from Britain, Sri Lanka first participated at the Olympic Games in 1948 in London.
Sri Lanka has since sent a delegation to every Summer Olympic Games, except for the 1976 Games.
However Sri Lanka has never participated in the Winter Olympic Games.
Sri Lankan athletes have won only two Olympic silver medals in the history.
Duncan White won a Silver medle in the 400 metres hurdles in the very first Games in 1948.
However Sri Lanka was made to wait 52 years when Susanthika Jayasinghe claimed Silver in the 200 metres event at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
The official emblem for the 2016 Summer Olympics was designed by the Brazilian agency Tatíl Design and unveiled on 31 December 2010.
The logo represents three figures, in the yellow, green, and blue of the Brazilian flag, joined at the arms and in a triple embrace, with the overall shape reflecting that of Sugarloaf Mountain.
The logo was based on four concepts: contagious energy, harmonious diversity, exuberant nature, and Olympic spirit.
The official mascots of the 2016 Summer Olympics and Paralympics were unveiled on 24 November 2014.
Named after musician Vinicius de Moraes and representing Brazilian wildlife, the Olympic mascot Vinicius carries design traits of mammals.
The mascots’ fictional backstories state that they were both born from the joy of Brazilians after it was announced that Rio would host the Games.
Brand director Beth Lula stated that the mascots are intended to reflect the diversity of Brazil’s culture and people.
The names of the mascots were determined by a public vote won over two other sets of names, tallying 44 percent of 323,327 votes, whose results were announced on 14 December 2014.
The Olympic flame was lit at the temple of Hera in Olympia on 21 April 2016, the traditional start of the Greek phase of the torch relay.
On 27 April the flame was handed over to the Brazilian organizers at a ceremony at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens. A brief stop was made in Switzerland to visit the IOC headquarters and the Olympic Museum in Lausanneas well as the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The torch relay began its Brazilian journey on 3 May at the capital Brasília.
The torch relay will visit more than 300 Brazilian cities (including all the 26 states capitals and the Brazilian Federal District), with the last part to be held in the city of Rio de Janeiro,lighting the cauldron during the 2016 Summer Olympics opening ceremony on 5 August.
For the first time in the history of the Summer Olympics, the main cauldron will not be permanently located at the Games’ main stadiums.
Similarly to the 2010 Winter Olympics, where the cauldron was located outside the Vancouver Convention Centre, the official cauldron will be located on the Port of Rio de Janeiro.
The host city of Rio de Janeiro was announced at the 121st IOC Session held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in October 2009.
Rio becomes the first South American city to host the Summer Olympics.
The bidding process for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games was officially launched in May 2007.
Four candidate cities were chosen for the shortlist on 4 June 2008: Chicago (USA), Madrid (Spain), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and Tokyo (Japan). Tokyo will host the Olympics again in 2020.
The final voting was held on 2 October 2009, in Copenhagen with Madrid and Rio de Janeiro perceived as favourites to land the games. Chicago and Tokyo were eliminated after the first and second rounds of voting, respectively, while Rio de Janeiro took a significant lead over Madrid heading into the final round.
The lead held and Rio de Janeiro was announced as host of 2016 Summer Olympics.
2016 Summer Olympics bidding results
City NOC Round 1 Round 2 Round 3
Rio de Janeiro Brazil 26 46 66
Madrid Spain 28 29 32
Tokyo Japan 22 20 —
Chicago United States 18 — —
Participating National Olympic Committees
All 205 National Olympic Committees have qualified at least one athlete. A team of Refugee Olympic Athletes will also participate.
As host nation, Brazil has received automatic entry for some sports including in all cycling disciplines and six places for weightlifting events.
The first three nations to qualify athletes for the Games were Germany, Great Britain and the Netherlands who each qualified four athletes for the team dressage by winning medals in the team event at the 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games.
South Sudan and Kosovo are expecting to debut in the Olympic Games.
Kuwait was banned in October 2015 for the second time in five years over government interference in the country’s Olympic committee.
Russia was provisionally suspended in November 2015 from all international athletic track and field competitions, including the 2016 Summer Olympics, by the IAAF following a World Anti-Doping Agencyreport into doping in athletics.
On 24 July 2016, the IOC rejected the IAAF and WADA’s recommendations to allow clean athletes to compete neutrally, stating that the Olympic Charter “does not foresee such ‘neutral athletes'” and that it was up to each country’s National Olympic Committee to decide which athletes would be competing.
Due to the European migrant crisis and for other reasons, the IOC will allow athletes to compete as Independent Olympians under the Olympic Flag.
In the previous Olympic Games, refugees were ineligible to compete due to their inability to represent their home NOCs.
On 2 March 2016, the IOC finalized plans for a specific team of Refugee Olympic Athletes; out of 43 refugee athletes deemed potentially eligible, 10 will be chosen to form the team.
Participating National Olympic Committees
Antigua and Barbuda
Bosnia and Herzegovina
British Virgin Islands
Central African Republic
Papua New Guinea
Refugee Olympic Athletes
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
São Tomé and Príncipe
Trinidad and Tobago
United Arab Emirates
Sri Lankans at Rio
Nine athlete will represent Sri Lanka at the Rio Games in six different sports.
The Sri Lankan hopefuls left for Brazil on the 1st of August.
Three-time Olympian and national record holder in the marathon event, Anuradha Cooray will be Sri Lanka’s flag bearer at the opening ceremony.
Three track and field athletes qualified for the Rio Games. Accordingly, Anuradha Cooray in Men’s marathon, Niluka Geethani Rajasekara in Women’s marathon and Sumeda Ranasinghe in Men’s javelin throw will compete at the Games.
Meanwhile, Matthew Abeysinghe became the first swimmer ever from Sri Lanka to meet the qualification standard for the Olympics. He met the B standard time at a qualification meet in July in Hong Kong. Abeysinghe will compete in the Men’s 100 m freestyle event. Sri Lanka also received a Universality invitation from FINA to send one female swimmer, accordingly Kimiko Raheem will compete in the Women’s 100 m backstroke.
Sri Lanka received an invitation from the Tripartite Commission to send London 2012 Olympian Niluka Karunaratne in the men’s singles event.
Sri Lanka has received an invitation from the Tripartite Commission to send a judoka competing in the men’s lightweight category, signifying the nation’s Olympic debut in the sport. Chamara Dharmawardhana will represent Sri Lanka in the Judo Men’s 73 kg weight category.
Champion shooter Mangala Samarakoon will represent Sri Lanka at the Rio Games after NOC received an invitation from the Tripartite Commission to send a men’s rifle shooter to the Olympics.
Accordingly, Mangala Samarakoon will compete in the Men’s 10 m air rifle and Men’s 50 m rifle prone events.
National champion Sudesh Peiris represent Sri Lanka in Rio in the Men’s 62 kg weight category.
The 2016 Summer Olympic program features 28 sports and a total of 41 disciplines and 306 events.
There were two open spots for sports and initially seven sports began the bidding for inclusion in the 2016 program.
Baseball and softball, which were dropped from the program in 2005, karate, squash, golf, roller sports, and rugby union all applied to be included.
In August, the executive board initially gave its approval to rugby sevens—a seven-player version of rugby union—by a majority vote, thus removing baseball, roller sports, and squash from contention.
Among the remaining three—golf, karate, and softball, the board approved golf as a result of consultation.
The final decision regarding the remaining two sports was made on 9 October 2009, the final day of the 121st IOC Session.
The International Sailing Federation announced in May 2012 that windsurfing would be replaced at the 2016 Olympics by kitesurfing,but this decision was reversed in November.
The IOC announced in January 2013 that it would review the status of cycling events, following Lance Armstrong’sadmission of using performance-enhancing drugs and accusations that the cycling’s governing bodyhad covered up doping.
In contrast to the exception during the 2012 Olympics, the International Gymnastics Federation announced that these Games will have a gala event for gymnastics.
Development and preparation
Venues and infrastructure
Events will take place at eighteen existing venues, nine new venues constructed for the 2016 Games, and seven temporary venues which will be removed following the games.
Each event will be held in one of four geographically segregated Olympic clusters: Barra, Copacabana, Deodoro, and Maracanã. The same was done for the 2007 Pan American Games. Several of the venues will be located at the Barra Cluster Olympic Park.
The largest venue at the games in terms of seating capacity is the Maracanã Stadium, officially known as Jornalista Mário Filho Stadium, which can hold 74,738 spectators and will serve as the official Olympic Stadium, hosting the opening and closing ceremonies as well as football finals.
In addition, five venues outside Rio de Janeiro will host football events, in the cities of Brasília, Belo Horizonte, Manaus, Salvador and São Paulo.
The Barra Olympic Park is a cluster of nine sporting venues in Barra da Tijuca, in the west zone of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil that will be used for the 2016 Summer Olympics and the 2016 Summer Paralympics.
The nine venues to be used within the Olympic Park are:
Carioca Arena 1: basketball (capacity: 16,000)
Carioca Arena 2: wrestling, judo (capacity: 10,000)
Carioca Arena 3: fencing, taekwondo (capacity: 10,000)
Future Arena: handball (capacity: 12,000)
Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre: diving, synchronised swimming, water polo (capacity: 5,000)
Olympic Aquatics Stadium: swimming, water polo play-offs (capacity: 15,000)
Olympic Tennis Centre: tennis (capacity: 10,000 Main Court)
Rio Olympic Arena: gymnastics (capacity: 12,000)
Rio Olympic Velodrome: track cycling (capacity: 5,000).
The athletes’ village is claimed to become the largest in Olympic history. Fittings will include about 80,000 chairs, 70,000 tables, 29,000 mattresses, 60,000 clothes hangers, 6,000 television sets and 10,000 smartphones.
The Rio Olympic Games will have brand-new robotic technology created by Mark Roberts Motion Control to broaden the reach of photographers at multiple venues.
Since the award of the 2016 Olympics to Rio de Janeiro, the city’s crime problems have received more attention. Rio’s mayor has admitted that there are “big issues” facing the city in securing the Games from violence.
However, he also said that such concerns and issues were presented to the IOC throughout the bidding process.
The governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro also highlighted the fact that London faced security problems, with a terrorist attack occurring on the day following the IOC session that chose the city to host the 2012 Olympic Games.
The IOC, however, has expressed optimism regarding the ability of the city and the nation of Brazil to address these concerns, saying that seven years is enough time for Rio de Janeiro to clean up its crime problem.
IOC spokesman Mark Adams told The Associated Press, “we have confidence in their capacity to deliver a safe Games in seven years. Security is of course a very important aspect of any Olympic Games no matter where it is in the world. This is of course entirely under the national, regional and city authorities.”
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, former president of Brazil, noted that the city has hosted other high-profile events without major incidents, for example the 2007 Pan American Games.
Rio de Janeiro is planning to pacify local neighbourhoods, or favelas. Community-based Police Pacification Units will be used to build trust in individual communities through the use of street patrols and civic work.
The ticket prices were announced on 16 September 2014, all of which will be sold in Brazilian Reals (BRL). A total of 7.5 million tickets will be sold; 200,000 tickets less compared to the 2012 Summer Olympics, because the size of many arenas is smaller.
Ticket prices range from BRL 40 for many events to BRL 4,600 for the most expensive seats at the opening ceremony. About 3.8 million of these tickets will be available for BRL 70 or less.
The street events such as road cycling, race walk, and the marathon can be watched along their routes for free.
Concerns and controversies
An ongoing outbreak of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in Brazil has raised fears regarding its potential impact on athletes and visitors. Organizers plan to perform daily inspections of Olympic venues to prevent puddles of stagnant water that allow mosquitoes to breed.
There have been numerous calls for the Games to be postponed, warning that the anticipated attendance of 500,000 international visitors could cause the virus to rapidly spread outside of the country.
In the first quarter of 2016, there were also more cases of the mosquito-borne Dengue fever than in 2015 alone.
Dr.Amir Attaran of the University of Ottawa, writing for the Harvard Public Health Review, noted that Rio had the highest concentration of Zika infections out of all Brazilian states.
He argued that the Games could result in a “global catastrophe” of Zika outbreaks, and asserted that it was “socially irresponsible” and “ethically questionable” to allow the Games to continue.
On the other hand, it has been argued that the threat of Zika will not be as high during the games, citing computer models and simulations, as well as the fact that the Games will be held during Southern Hemisphere winter, which may lessen mosquito activity.
However, the initial outbreak of Zika in Brazil also occurred during the winter months, but in Northeastern states near equator, where geographically there is no winter season throughout the year. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stated that “there is no public health reason to cancel or delay the Olympics.”
In May 2016, a group of 150 physicians and scientists sent an open letter to the World Health Organization, calling upon them to, according to co-author Arthur Caplan, have “an open, transparent discussion of the risks of holding the Olympics as planned in Brazil”.
The WHO dismissed the request, stating that “cancelling or changing the location of the 2016 Olympics will not significantly alter the international spread of Zika virus”, and that there was “no public health justification” for postponing them.
Political instability and economic crisis
In 2014, Operation Car Wash, an investigation by the Federal Police of Brazil uncovered unprecedented money laundering and corruption at the state-controlled oil company Petrobras, where executives allegedly accepted bribes in return for awarding contracts to construction firms at inflated prices.
In early 2015, a series of protests against alleged corruption by the government of President Dilma Rousseff began in Brazil, triggered by revelations that numerous politicians were involved in the Petrobras affair.
By early 2016, the scandal had escalated into a full blown political crisis affecting not only President Rousseff, but also former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, resulting in massive demonstrations all over the country involving millions of protesters, both anti and pro-Rousseff.
According to Rousseff supporters, in the name of corruption, anti-government protestors have removed the country’s top leader to replace her with politicians investigated by the Car Wash who are willing to suspend the investigations. Their suspicions were confirmed after Senator Romero Jucá, appointed as planning minister after Rousseff’s dismissal, was caught on tape with former oil executive Sergio Machado agreeing that removing Rousseff is the only way for ending the investigation. The Nation’s Dave Zirinwent as far as claiming that the Rio Olympics helped cementing a coup d’état.
At the same time, Brazil faces its worst economic recession since the 1990s, raising questions about whether the country is adequately prepared for the Games against such a volatile political and economic backdrop.
According to one OECD spokesperson the Brazilian recession will endure until 2018 and can only be resolved by holding new elections.
The IOC, in turn, has stated that it is following the political developments “very closely”. On April 14, the Olympic Security Coordination assured that the economic and political crises would not affect the security and fulfillment of the Games.
In his speech during the Olympic torch lighting ceremony in Olympia, IOC President Thomas Bach commented on Brazil’s political situation: “This will be the Brazilian Games. Despite the difficulties that the country faces, the event will bring a message of hope to every corner of its territory and also worldwide. The Games will take place in a moment in which the world is shaken by crises. I want to pay tribute to the Brazilian people, who, in a few weeks, will welcome the world with enthusiasm and will leave everyone amazed by its joy and its passion for sports.”
On May 12, President Rousseff was stripped of her powers and duties for 180 days, after an impeachment vote in the Federal Senate, thus Vice President Michel Temer will be acting president during the Games. Rousseff will not be invited to attend any event during the Games. Instead, the main invitation as head of state was sent to Vice President Temer as acting president. Temer’s legitimacy has been questioned, though. Prior to the impeachment vote, the vast majority of Brazilians supported holding new general elections as a way to solve the political crisis, while only 8% favored Temer’s rise to power.
On 21 April – the day that the Olympic torch was lit – a 50-meter section of the Tim Maia bike path, crossing the Oscar Niemayer Avenue in São Conrado neighborhood and a part of the legacy of the games, was hit by a giant wave and collapsed.
Two pedestrians fell into the ocean to their deaths. Four days after the incident, Rio’s mayor Eduardo Paes announced that the Tim Maia bike path will be repaired before the Olympics, and that the companies responsible for the path will be punished.
Despite promises for increased security, on 21 May 2016, three members representing Spain were robbed at gunpoint in the Santa Teresa neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, by five youths, two of whom were armed with pistols.
With all the concerns the 31st Olympic Games will be worked off in Brazil from the 5th to the 21st of August and perhaps against all odds the athletes could make Rio 2016 the best ever.
Statistics courtesy: www.rio2016.com/en