Summer Olympics 2016: Rio de Janeiro

What happened at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games

closing ceremony at Rio Summer Games  

Rio Closing Ceremony

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The 2016 Summer Olympics took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil-—the first ever Summer Olympics to take place in South America. These games were certainly memorable due to the drama leading up to the Games, as well as the stunning and record-breaking performances by many athletes. The Games opened on August 5, 2016 with a lively ceremony detailing the rich history and culture of Brazil and the Portuguese people. The opening ceremony, held in Maracanã Stadium, received international praise for its emphasis on multiculturalism, diversity, and the hot topic of climate change. The slogan for Rio 2016 was “A New World” to further promote the dual goal of diversity and inclusivity.

An Olympic Bargain

Currently there is a lot of debate whether the pride of hosting the Olympics is worth the end cost. Rio organizers have every right to be proud of their bottom line; despite their lower-than-normal Olympic budget, Rio pulled off an outstanding opening ceremony and a fantastic Summer Games. To compare, London 2012 spent $14.96 billion to host the Olympics, while Brazil spent about $4.58 billion to host Rio 2016.

Faster, Higher, Stronger

The depth and breadth of athleticism put the U.S. on the podium more times than any other country. With the final medal count, the U.S. came in first place with a total of 121 medals, China came in second with 70 medals, closely followed by Great Britain, who came in third with 67 medals. Despite some breakthrough performances from athletes of the host country—who were clearly buoyed by the hometown crowd—Brazil, with 19 total medals, did not break into the top ten, but finished in a respectable 13th place. In total, over 10,000 athletes participated in Rio 2016 in more than 306 Olympic events.

Some stand-out American athletes from the Games were Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky, and Simone Biles, all of whom won more than three gold medals during these Games. This was Simone Biles’s first Olympic Games; the gymnast won 4 gold medals and 1 silver and was considered the star of the “Final Five” gymnastics team. Katie Ledecky blew everyone away with her record-breaking performances, swimming away with three world records and 5 Olympic gold medals. In the 800-meter freestyle final, the world watched as she shattered her own record and finished 12 seconds ahead of second place winner, Jazz Carlin. After Rio 2016, Michael Phelps went home with 6 new medals: 5 gold and 1 silver, bringing his medal count to 28. He remains the most decorated Olympian of all time.

Skies Stay Blue Over Rio

These Olympics were particularly interesting due to the significant conflicts and scandals that led up to August 5. The world’s concern about the Zika virus stopped some athletes from attending the Games, suggesting that participating in the Olympics was not worth the health risks. Many, including doctors, urged the International Olympic Committee to consider relocating the Games. A Russian doping scandal was revealed before the start of the Games, resulting in the elimination of the entire track team, while some of the rowers and swimmers were also banned. The remaining athletes on the Russian team had to be individually cleared for participation. However, during the three weeks that the Summer Olympic Games took place, these issues did not seem cloud the bright skies nor dampen the excited mood coursing through Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

by Katherine Schauer

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