The 2016 Olympic Games officially start in Rio on Friday with the opening ceremony at the Maracana Stadium.
The athletes have arrived, the venues are ready and expectation is palpable as the sporting world awaits the commencement of the 31st Olympic Games, the first ever Olympiad to be staged in South America.
Although there is little by the way of sporting action Friday, there’s still plenty happening in host city Rio de Janeiro.
The ceremony will include traditional Olympic features like the oath and the parade of nations, along with unique celebrations highlighting Brazilian culture and accomplishments.
While the person who lights the cauldron during the opening ceremony is a closely guarded secret, the odds-on favorite is Brazilian soccer legend Pelé.
NBC has announced it will broadcast the opening ceremony on a one-hour delay in the Eastern time zone (two hours for Central Time, four hours for Pacific Time) in order to “curate” the coverage. The live stream will also be delayed.
Here are five things to look out for on day zero of the 2016 Olympic Games.
Rio 2016 will officially get underway Friday when IOC president Thomas Bach opens the Games in the Maracana Stadium. Before that an estimated television audience of billions will tune in to view an opening ceremony that is expected to showcase the best of Brazilian culture and sport.
The ceremony will be overseen by Brazilian film director Fernando Meirelles — of “City of God” fame — and producer Daniela Thomas, who had a hand in the handover ceremony from 2012.
The first ever refugee team will take its bow during Friday’s opening ceremony as athletes from all participating nations line up in the Maracana.
Competing under the Olympic flag, the six male and four female refugee athletes will include talented competitors originally from the likes of Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.
Should any of them win gold during the Games, they will be serenaded by the Olympic anthem while on the podium.
Although the games don’t officially begin until Friday evening, archery will follow football in getting an early start.
While there are no medals up for grabs, the men’s and women’s individual and team rankings rounds will take place Friday at the Sambodrome, the stadium where local samba schools parade against each other during Rio Carnival.
Protesters have grabbed headlines in recent days by disrupting the Olympic torch as it made its way around the streets of Rio.
On Wednesday, police fired tear gas to disperse a group people in the north of the city who were looking to extinguish the flame. And according to reports on the respected “Inside the Games” website, more protests are scheduled for Friday.
Many Brazilians are upset by the cost of the Olympics and believe the money could be better spent at a time when the country is struggling economically.
Let the Games begin
With the flame lit and the ceremony completed, all eyes will turn to Saturday when action commences across 22 sports. Medals will be up for grabs in the road cycling, judo, fencing, swimming, archery events, weightlifting and shooting events