Watching the Olympic Games can be addictive. I generally watch the Opening Ceremony and the Closing Ceremony – and then the actual competitions on a catch-as-catch-can basis as time allows.
During the Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro I thought of all the billions of people worldwide who were doing exactly the same thing. Think about it – all of us “together” watching the 10,000+ athletes from 200+ countries compete in 300+ events in 40+ sports!
Rio did a commendable job on the Opening Ceremony – making the most of the amount of funding available to them. The birthplace of modern samba, bossa nova and Tropicalia music did not disappoint – the music and dancing was lively and put everyone in the mood to party.
I did not know, until the depiction of the waves of immigrants during the opening ceremony, that immigration had such a huge influence on Brazil. Learning about other countries and cultures is another important side benefit of the Olympic Games.
Rio, the first city in South America to host the Olympic Games, is a city of six million. As has been widely reported, Rio has its share of problems – the Zika virus, discontent among the poverty stricken, crime, raw sewage in Guanabara Bay, a country beset with economic woes and a President in the midst of impeachment proceedings.
While all of us watching from afar are aware of these issues – the Rio we see is stunningly beautiful – from the beaches to the lush hills and mountains.
The Olympic Games go on abet without some athletes who had to make the difficult decision to compete or not based on their individual circumstances.
The U.S. contingent of athletes was the largest at the 2016 Olympic Games. Among the 500+ U.S athletes following the amazing Michael Phelps at the opening ceremony were a number of athletes with connections to the Sacramento Region:
- Basketball – DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings)
- Equestrian – Kasey Perry (Orangevale)
- Marathon Swimming – Haley Anderson (Granite Bay)
- Rowing – Sam Dommer (Folsom)
- Rugby Joanne Fa’avesi (Sacramento)
- Soccer – Megan Rapinoe (Redding)
- Track and Field – Kim Conley (West Sacramento), Kate Grace (Sacramento), Cale Simmons (Rocklin)
- Water Polo – Alex Obert (Loomis).
Best of luck to our Sacramento area athletes! Just making it to the Olympic Games is an accomplishment to be proud of.
Sacramento-based Blue Diamond Growers also deserves recognition for sponsoring the U.S. volleyball and swim teams.
During the Opening Ceremony I always take note of the athletes representing the smallest countries as well as those athletes competing under the “independent flag”. Athletes competing under the independent flag are those who, due to circumstances beyond their control, compete without a country to call their own. I don’t know about you – but if there is not a U.S. athlete in the competition I often find myself rooting for the “underdog(s)”.
One of the things I find so fascinating about the Olympic Games is learning about the backstory of the athletes. There are so many stories of human interest i.e. athletes overcoming various types of hurdles to get to that moment in time, etc. A number of stories of interest have come to light so far – and there will be many more before the 2016 Olympic Games come to a close.
I was struck, for example, seeing Nadia Comaneci, who turned in a perfect performance at the Montreal 1976 Games, cheering on from the stands the lone Rumanian athlete competing in Artistic Gymnastics. Wow – things have changed. When Nadia was on the Rumanian gymnastic team the team exhibited the same degree of excellence as does the members of our U.S. gymnastics squad today – the “Final Five”. They are all awesome!
The Olympic Games are full of drama i.e. the unfortunate injuries and missteps that result in defeat, the come-from-behind unexpected victories, the expressions on the faces of the athletes – ranging from great disappointment to pure joy. All are part of the Olympic Games experience.
What is your favorite/least favorite thing about the Olympic Games?
(Updated September 8, 2016) DeMarcus Cousins brought home the GOLD as a member of the U.S. Basketball Team.
(UPDATED January 30, 2017) Most Team USA gold, silver and bronze metal winners will no longer have to pay a “victory tax” under a bill signed into law by President Barack Obama. The tax will still, however, apply to high-profile athletes who earn at least $1 million a year.
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