|Competition type||Olympic Games|
|Number and Year||XXXI / 2016|
|Host city||Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Venues)|
|Opening ceremony||5 August|
|Closing ceremony||21 August|
|Competition dates||3 – 21 August|
|OCOG||Comitê Organizador dos Jogos Olímpicos e Paralímpicos Rio 2016|
|Participants||11180 from 207 countries|
|Medal events||306 in 41 disciplines|
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded the 2016 Olympics to Rio de Janeiro at the 2009 IOC Session in København, Denmark. At the time, it seemed an inspired choice, as Brazil was in the midst of an economic boom, and it was considered one of the rising BRIC (Brazil-Russia-India-China) economies, and the selection of Rio was a chance to bring the Games to South America for the first time. Over the next seven years, the IOC would perhaps rue their choice, as Rio was beset by multiple problems. Most importantly, the Brazilian economy nosedived on the heels of the world-wide recession of 2008-09. By 2016, Brazil and Rio had little money to host the world’s largest international exposition. Further, Brazil had also hosted the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and spent significant money to do so, building and upgrading many football stadia.
In 2015-16, the problems with the selection of Rio became manifest as it was evident that Brazil’s financial woes were making it difficult to finish the venues, villages, and other ancillary structures needed to host the Olympics. In early 2016 Brazil made international news again when the Zika virus, transmitted by mosquitos, was found to be rampant and medical articles linked the virus with birth defects, especially microcephaly, which began to scare people away from visiting Rio, including some athletes, notably the male professional golfers.
Further news stories highlighted other problems Rio was having cleaning up the water in Guanabara Bay, where some rowing and sailing races would be held. Rio had pledged to the IOC that the water, which was an effluviant for raw sewage, would be more than 80% cleaned. Spectators and Olympic officials were cautioned to avoid these areas and, in the end, there were few, if any, problems related to these.
Although not directly related to Rio de Janeiro in anyway, the 2016 Olympics developed further problems in late 2015 when systematic doping was revealed in Russia, based on German media reports, and a report led by IOC Member Dick Pound. This caused the Russian athletics (track & field) team to be banned from Rio, with the lone exception of Darya Klishina, who had trained in the United States for several years.
Then, less than a month before the Opening Ceremony, a commissioned report from Richard McLaren found systematic doping at the Sochi Olympics related to the Russian athletes, including tampering of samples, and submission of samples from non-athletes. This caused an outcry of demands for the entire Russian team to be banned from Rio. After having emergency meetings on the topic, the IOC elected to refer the decisions to the International Federations, which had less than 2 weeks to make such decisions. Eventually, most federations, other than athletics, weightlifting, and rowing, allowed most of the Russian athletes to compete.
With all these problems having been widely reported by the world’s media, people had very low expectations for the 2016 Olympic Games, but the Games came to pass and most of the expected problems never materialized. Mosquitos in the Brazilian winter were rare, if not non-existent, so Zika turned out to be more of a problem during the Olympics in Miami Beach than in Rio de Janeiro. The water was cleaned up, and while far from pristine, was about what one might see in other major cities of the world, the worst of it being more similar to New York’s East River than a sewage dump, but the athletes competing there, notably the rowers and canoeists, had no complaints. The venues were beautiful and the sport at times sublime. The Brazilian people were friendly, always smiling despite significant language barriers. And their smiles and friendliness are what will always be remembered. The Brazilians provided extensive security, and while there were stories of various crimes, they were rare and not fully unexpected in a city of 6.3 million people.
The biggest problem with Rio turned out to be transport. The city is enormous, built between the ocean and multiple mountains jutting to the sky throughout the area. Getting from Point A to Point B in the best of circumstances is slow in Rio, as one must go through, under, and around the mountains, and multiple lakes and lagoons, and the Olympic Games further complicated this. Buses did not always run on time and the trip from the Olympic Park to Maracanã Stadium, site of the Opening Ceremony and football finals, was one of more than an hour. Perhaps caused somewhat by this, but also related to ticket prices in the difficult economic climate, attendance at many major venues was sparse.
In the end, as they always do, the athletes saved the Rio Olympics. Michael Phelps returned for his fifth Olympics and moved his medal total in swimming to 23 golds and 28 medals in all. Usain Bolt completed his third consecutive Olympics dominating the sprints, again winning the 100 metres, 200 metres, and anchoring Jamaica to victory in the 4x100 relay. New stars also emerged, among them Katie Ledecky, who showed why, at only 19-years-old, she was already considered the world’s greatest distance freestyler, winning four gold medals and one silver. Another American, Simone Biles, won four gold medals in gymnastics, including the all-around, adding Olympic titles to her World Championships of 2013-15.
On the final night of competition, Brazil faced Germany in the football final. The world’s two greatest football (soccer) nations had recently met in a semi-final at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, when Germany humiliated host Brazil, winning 7-1. The Olympic final was contested at Maracanã, the Brazilian National Football Stadium, and went to extra time and then to a penalty shoot-out. When Germany missed their final PK, Neymar, Brazil’s greatest player at the time, came through with the winning goal to give his team its first ever Olympic gold medal in their national sport. As was noted by the media, although the United States dominated the medal standings with 121 medals and 46 golds, with that victory, Brazil stood atop the figurative medal standings.
The IOC President, Thomas Bach, called the Games “marvelous” at the closing ceremony. Rio had pulled it off. Brazilians made new friends around the world, and Rio residents got a glistening new subway line that will enhance the lives of future generations. Amidst perhaps the most negative pre-Games publicity ever experienced by a host nation, despite the shortage of money and despite the Zika threat, there were few major problems during the 2016 Olympics, although the media Cassandras had almost seemed to be hoping for them. As one long-time Olympic reporter summarized it, “Our hosts have done more with fewer resources than any city in my tenure.”
Bid voting at the 13th IOC Congress in København on 2 October 2009. Because of the number of candidate cities, an Evaluation Commission of the IOC was nominated whose task was to pare the number of candidates down to a more workable four prior to the final vote.
There were three eliminated cities: Doha (Qatar), Praha (Czech Republic) and Bakı (Azerbaijan).
|Round 1||Round 2||Round 3|
|Rio de Janeiro||Brazil||26||46||66|
|Chicago, Illinois||United States||18||–||–|
|Officially opened by||Michel Temer (Acting president)|
|Torchbearer(s)||Vanderlei de Lima (Lit flame), Guga Kuerten, Hortência, Jorge Gomes (Lit secondary flame)|
|Taker of the Athlete's Oath||Robert Scheidt|
|Taker of the Official's Oath||Martinho Nobre|
|Taker of the Coach's Oath||Adriana|
|Olympic Flag Bearers||Marta, Sandra Pires, Emanuel, Oscar Schmidt, Torben Grael, Joaquim Cruz, Ellen Gracie, Rosa Celia Pimentel|
|Artistic Gymnastics||Equestrian Dressage||Sailing|
|Artistic Swimming||Equestrian Eventing||Shooting|
|Cycling BMX Racing||Marathon Swimming||Water Polo|
|Cycling Mountain Bike||Modern Pentathlon||Weightlifting|
|Cycling Road||Rhythmic Gymnastics||Wrestling|
|People's Republic of China||CHN||26||18||26||70|
|Republic of Korea||KOR||9||3||9||21|
|Islamic Republic of Iran||IRI||3||1||4||8|
|Democratic People's Republic of Korea||PRK||2||3||2||7|
|Independent Olympic Athletes||IOA||1||0||1||2|
|Trinidad and Tobago||TTO||0||0||1||1|
|United Arab Emirates||UAE||0||0||1||1|