To say the run-up to the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics was rocky would be a supreme understatement. Stories — some quite shocking — about the Brazilian city being woefully unprepared to host the Games have been in headlines for months.
The tales range from the forgivable: A collapsed boat launch ramp at the Olympic sailing venue, and the incomplete Olympic village, where the athletes will live; to the disgusting: Waterways where events are to take place are contaminated with raw human sewage.
Add to this Zika worries, and the city’s high crime rate, and odds are not good that the Rio Games will go off without a hitch.
Speaking from Rio during the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour on Tuesday, veteran broadcaster Bob Costas said, “We would be naive to think that they don’t face security problems, that they don’t face problems with sanitation, that their government is not in upheaval . There are serious issues here and it will be a story at the back end of this if they surmount these problems and put on these Games.”
The Games of the XXXI Olympiad open Friday and wrap up Sunday, Aug. 21. A record number of countries, represented by more than 10,500 athletes, will be going for the gold in 28 sports.
Team U.S.A. is comprised of 554 athletes, and for only the second time in history, the U.S. Olympic roster features more female athletes than male. The Americans have 189 returning Olympians, including three six-time Olympians, seven five-time Olympians, 17 four-time Olympians, 50 three-time Olympians and 112 two-time Olympians.
Swimmer Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, will lead Team U.S.A. into the opening ceremonies.
“I’m honored to be chosen, proud to represent the U.S., and humbled by the significance of carrying the flag and all it stands for,” said Phelps, who has 22 career Olympic medals, including 18 golds. At the ripe old age of 31, Phelps is looking to add to that total in Rio.
The Olympics, as a concept, is a wonderful idea: Bring the world’s finest athletes together every four years in the spirit of competition and national pride. Here’s hoping the Rio Games don’t tarnish this legacy. Good luck, Team U.S.A.
— Record-Journal (Conn.), Aug. 5, 2016