With the Euro’s a distant memory and Brexit firmly established, we thought we’d take a look at this summers Olympic Games. Will it match the huge success of London 2012 and what’s new in the games?
London 2012 was truly a thing of beauty, devoid of race, religion, political interest and financial irregularities. GB’s capital Games united our nation and was without doubt one of the greatest sporting shows ever exhibited.
How then, will Brazil respond? What’s new in the games and what will be Brazil’s legacy. We took a look at the Rio games.
Why Rio De Janeiro?
Brazil will be the first South American country to host the games, incidentally at their 5th attempt. Having beaten off the bookies favourite Chicago earlier, it fell to Madrid to mount the final round challenge with Rio picking up the majority of the 95 votes cast at the meeting in Copenhagen in 2009.
Rio is one of the most beautiful cities on the planet but, it’s not without its problems. One fifth of the population live in slums and at the time of writing, July 2016, a myriad of problems still threaten the Games.
Brazil had promised that the Games would ‘remake’ most of the ramshackle neighbourhoods but issues such as security threats, soaring violence, the Zika virus, political uncertainty, sluggish ticket sales and water pollution in the sailing, rowing and distance swimming venues is potentially going to threaten those developments.
With billions of dollars being spent on restructuring railways and high speed buses, clearly Rio will benefit from the legacy of the Games but questions still surround the likely completion of all facilities in time for the 5th August opening.
Few of the locals will witness the Games, with 10% unemployment and Brazil’s worst recession since the 1930’s, most won’t be able to afford a ticket, having said that, few of the 500,000 visitors will witness the real Rio either, the 17 day carnival atmosphere will ensure the Games go off with a bang.
There are two ‘new’ events for the Rio Games; Golf and Rugby Sevens. Some might be surprised at Golf’s presence as an Olympic sport but, times have changed and actually this isn’t the first time Golf has appeared as an Olympic Sport. Back in 1904, St Louis hosted the ‘Games of the III Olympiad’, Golf was one of the events taking place. Admittedly, only two countries entered the Golf event, USA and Canada. Unsurprisingly, USA picked up 6 of the 7 medals on offer across the disciplines.
Golf hasn’t been seen at the Games since and Rio has now built its very own par 71, 6,522m course within the Marapendi Natural Reserve. The proposal was for a 72-hole individual stroke play tournament using the official Golf rules. However, some of the sport’s top stars will not be appearing in Rio citing the Zika virus and busy schedules as their decisions to withdraw. Jason Day, Rory McILroy and Adam Scott as a start. Oosthuizen, Leishman, McDowell, Jiminez, Singh, Grace, Matsuyama and Schwartzel later joined the list of absentees.
Rugby Sevens is the second ‘new’ sport at 2016 Games. Rugby isn’t new to the Olympics as such with the Union version being an event at the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris. USA again taking Gold in France with a 17 – 3 win over France in what turned out to be a very bad tempered match. USA were booed for most of the match by fans after a 3rd minute tackle left Adolphe Jaureguy unconscious.
The USA team, protected by Police at the final whistle, were bombarded with bottles and rocks whilst brawling broke out in the stands.
“Sevens” is a deviation on the 15 man version of Union with fundamentally the same rules applying. Variations are made mostly to speed up the game such as;
- 7 players per team
- Five substitutes, with five interchanges
- Seven minute halves with a two minute half time
- Three player scrums
With a record haul of 65 medals in 2012, UK Sport says that improving on that is “within scope”. Team GB could be the first nation in Olympic history to win more medals after hosting the games. Gracenote VMT produce a statistical based analysis to forecast the Rio 2016 Medal table. Currently they have USA first with 92 medals, China second on 81, Russia 63 and Team GB with 51 (G18-S16-B17). So clearly a difference of opinion within the sporting authorities.
What does seem consistent is that Team GB have a great squad and can expect medals to flow. Potentially we could pick up Gold on the Track with Mo Farrah, Greg Rutherford and possibly Jessica Ennis-Hill. Alastair Brownlee could grab Gold in the Men’s Triathlon, two recent World Triathlon victories would suggest he’s in good shape with Maria Mola (ESP) as his only real threat.
Lizzie Armitstead, Laura Trott and Jason Kenny are all hot favourites to scoop Gold in cycling with Team GB more than good enough for the track pursuit event. Nicola Adams is expected to continue her great form with Gold in the Boxing. Gold is also anticipated in Equestrian, Sailing, Rowing, Swimming and Taekwondo and, how can you rule out double Wimbledon Champion Andy Murray?
With the decision still pending regarding Russia’s participation, a whole host of countries could benefit from the available medals. With 6 medals forecast for the Russian athletes, Spain, Nigeria, China, Croatia, Poland and Venezuela could all benefit. In addition, Germany, Kazakhstan and Jamaica could each exchange one bronze medal in athletics for a silver one if the ban on the Russian athletes is upheld on the 21st July by the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS). Expect legal repercussions if it is, a great deal of uncertainty for the Russian team as we write!
What is next for the Summer Games? We know Japan’s capital city Tokyo will be the hosts and there’ll be a host of new events. Potentially they could include Baseball, Softball, Karate, Sport Climbing, Skateboarding and Surfing, all of which have been recommended.
Having hosted the Rugby World Cup in the year prior (2019), Japan’s National Olympic Stadium would have already benefitted from a $1 Billion upgrade and reconstruction so they’ll be well on the way to having everything ready for the 24th July Opening Ceremony.