The Opening Ceremony is slated for August 5, 2016. Are you ready to party? It is the XXXI Olympiad, hosted by Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and it promises to be a dandy, full of plumage, feathers and flair! The great thing about the Summer Olympic Games taking place in the southern hemisphere? They generally take place later in the summer, because that is the local winter. What does this mean for most people reading this? The Rio Olympics will basically spill right into the beginning of football season! Here are 11 more reasons to get excited about the Rio Olympics.
11. Bob Costas’s Olympic Coverage
Bob Costas takes a lot of crap from his critics, and especially on the hot button issues of the past several years, but there are few people who can do what Bob does. And Bob does what he does so well. He has an ageless quality, and a can-do attitude (lest we forget Bob with pink eye at the most recent Winter Olympic Games). Bob is excellent at offering commentary, he’s great at moving the show along, he’s wonderful with the athletes when he has the opportunity to interview (seriously, watch how he puts people at ease). Whether you love him, or hate him personally/politically, the guy is a legend in the broadcasting industry. In the contemporary era of television, it’s not an Olympics without Bob Costas offering a “Welcome to the XYZ Olympiad” with the John Williams trumpet fanfare blasting in the background.
10. The Opening Ceremonies
You’ve seen images and videos from Carnivale. How can the opening ceremony at the Rio Games not rival those awesomely extravagant parades? When it comes to throwing parties, there is no nation that does it quite like Brazil (or Brasil, if you prefer). Though there is political unrest, and socio-economic/class warfare/rhetoric streaming from cities like Rio de Janeiro, most of that noise–much of it very important–will fade to the background for a few weeks when the athletes begin showing up from the world over, and the games begin to shine. You don’t have to be bold to claim that these opening ceremonies, and the parade of nations involved, will have more flair than it has ever had. It may not be as tech savvy as the games in Beijing, or as thoughtful as the games in London, but it’ll have more strut than any opening ceremony before it!
9. The USA Men’s Basketball Roster
Who’s it going to be? This roster is immense. There are many players who remain on the 2014-2016 FIBA World Championships and Olympic roster, but who will form the team of 12 that go on to represent the 2016 edition of USA Men’s Basketball in Rio? This is always a fascinating process, because career is priority for most of these guys. Of course, the world wants to see Steph Curry in Rio de Janeiro, but will he be feeling up to playing in South America once August rolls around? A lot of it will depend on his current injury, and how the Warriors roll in the playoffs with/without him. At present, the same story can be applied to a number of Olympic hopefuls. We’ll even kick in another variable: who is licking their wounds after an emotional exit from the playoffs?
8. USA Women’s Gymnastics
They are set to dominate. The United States Women’s Gymnastics team should contend for so much gold at the Rio Olympics. Gabby Douglas will be back to defend her title of Olympic Champion, and alongside her, everyone will get to know the name Simone Briles, who could also challenge for the all-around title. As far as the team goes, we’ll have to see how things play out at the trials. Anything could happen. If things play out as predicted, this could be one of the finest U.S. Women’s Gymnastics teams in the history of the sport. Does that mean they’re going to coast to gold? Not a chance. Everyone best believe this means the entire world is gunning for the U.S. team, and that should make this a marquee event of the XXXI Olympiad.
7. Kite Surfing
Forget that windsurfing stuff; it is so yesteryear. 2016 will usher in a new era of sports on the water by welcoming the growing sport of Kite Surfing. You read that right: Kite Surfing is an Olympic event (that’s why it’s capitalized). It’s no longer just something being enjoyed off the coast of Malibu’s Zuma Beach. This sport has gone worldwide, and it’s as exciting to watch, as it is to participate. That equates to success in televised Olympic sports. How much of the Kite Surfing competition will we see when August rolls around? We’re hopeful it gets an entire feature, and a lot of coverage, being a new sport in the games. Kite Surfing does take the place of windsurfing, which is a great sport, but frankly, it had to have been one of the least watched events in all of the games.
6. Beach Volleyball
Alright, let’s be real here for a minute: there is going to be an unparalleled amount of hotness playing sports on the beach in Rio. Women…men…probably some really attractive marine wildlife. We’re merely suggesting that these things should be appreciated in their natural habitats, like beach volleyball players in very little clothing, sweating in Brazilian humidity–making us all look in the mirror, and say, “Ugh…” But here’s the big story of these Rio Olympic Games: this will be the first Olympic Beach Volleyball competition in 12 years that doesn’t cast a spotlight on Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh. They enjoyed years of dominance in the women’s sport, and three consecutive gold medals in Olympic competition. In 2016 a new team will take the gold.
5. Michael Phelps, More Focused Than Ever
It’s easy to get suckered by that Michael Phelps ad campaign. He’s looking very Superman from Man of Steel like with the beard, and the black and white imagery. It’s a monster statement by Phelps to proclaim that he’s back, and looking for gold. It’s not about celebrity, or chasing fame, rather purely about his love for the pool, and his lasting legacy. Truth be told, this is the first Olympics that will feature Michael Phelps as a grown-ass man. In past games, he was the young man, and the growing man, but now, this guy has reached a plane of mental and physical maturity that are equivalent. What can he do at this games against younger competition? The 30-year-old has been quoted as saying he hasn’t “trained like this in a decade.” Let’s see what happens.
4. Sevens Rugby
With the dismissal of Olympic sports like baseball, more international sporting bodies were able to stake their claim to Olympic competition. They do this by putting together their expert pitches, and ultimately, selling the IOC on how much money the sports would bring into competition. Rugby is a very popular game worldwide, and the small version of the sport, “Sevens,” will enjoy its first Olympic play in 2016. In most Rugby matches, teams of 15 are pitted against one another to do battle. In Sevens, the game is fast moving–seven minute halves with a one minute halftime–and is played on a full sized pitch. There is not a lot of room for “non-runners” in Sevens. This competition will definitely garner some television time in many countries, and hopefully the United States will follow suit. It is hoped that Sevens Rugby will increase interest in the sport internationally.
3. Allyson Felix
Regardless of the competition in other sports, it all pales in comparison to Olympic Track and Field. When you think Summer Olympics, T&F serves as the backbone. They are the hardest tickets to score at any given Olympics, and they never disappoint. Records are challenged (or broken) and we’re introduced to the next great generation of athletes from the world over. 2016 will serve as Allyson Felix’s attempt to plant a flag, and go out on top of the world, pulling double gold in the Women’s 400m and 200m sprint races. Allyson will also likely run in the Women’s 1600m Relay (4×400), for a chance to go home with three more Olympic Gold Medals. The difficulty in 2016 lies in the fact that she’ll be up against the toughest competition she has ever faced in her career, as women’s sprint racing has more quality competitors now than ever before.
2. Usain Bolt
All eyes will be on Usain Bolt this summer. Everyone who has watched this exceptionally talented runner for the past decade will want to soak up what will be his final Olympics. Usain Bolt announced that he is planning to retire from his competitive Track and Field career after the 2017 World Championships, meaning that unless he has a serious change of heart, 2016 in Rio is it for the “World’s Fastest Man” in the Olympics. Many have boasted that title, but nobody (in recorded history), has ever run as fast as Usain Bolt. Bolt will be running the Men’s 100m, 200m, and the Men’s 4×100 Relay with his Jamaican teammates. Bolt has also left the door open to retiring after the 2016 Olympic Games. We’re not sure if that’s based on a stellar performance, a poor performance or simply a gut instinct. He’s a fascinating character.
1. The Unknown
And the most exciting thing about every Olympic Games: the great unknown. What will happen that nobody was expecting? Could Usain Bolt come into the Men’s 100m as the favorite, and lose to teammate Yohan Blake, or U.S. sprinter Justin Gatlin? Could a country that has never earned a medal sneak onto the platform in an epic performance? Whatever the case, you can bank on “the unknown entity” being the story of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The motto of the XXXI Olympiad is “Live Your Passion.” Someone doing just that is going to steal the show, just as the relatively unknown Usain Bolt stole the show in Beijing…and just as the relatively unknown Gabby Douglas stole the show in London.
We appreciate the Winter Olympic Games, but there’s really no comparison to the energy of the Summer Olympics. Bring it, Rio!