by Drew Galloway
There is nothing like the Olympics. Over 10,000 athletes coming together every four years in one place and competing not only for themselves, but for their country.
This year in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil will be no different. The lead up to the Olympics has had it all: crime, a deadly virus, doping and a president being impeached. Here’s a look at what I think the top ten stories of this year’s Olympic Games are.
10. Simone Biles looks to add an Olympic medal to an already highly decorated career at 19 years old
Biles has a case to be named the best gymnast ever and she has not even competed at the Olympics yet. She is the most decorated female gymnasts in World Championships history winning 14 medals and 10 of them being gold.
The 10 gold medals is the most gold medals by a female gymnast in World Championship history as well. At the Olympic trials, Biles placed first in the all-around, vault and floor exercise competitions. She has a chance to win potentially five gold medals this Olympics out of the six events.
9. Two sports are back in the Olympics after a long wait
Golf and Rugby are returning in Rio. This will be the first time golf has been in the Olympics since the third Olympic Games in 1904 at St. Louis, Missouri. The athletes will compete in a 72-hole individual stroke play tournament.
However, not all of the world’s best golfers will be competing. The number one, two, three and four ranked men’s golfers in the world, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Rory Mcllroy respectively, will not be competing.
They have cited the Zika virus and scheduling conflicts as why they will not compete. This will be the first time Rugby has been played at the Olympics since the eighth Olympic Games in 1924 at Paris, France. New Zealand is the favorite to take home the gold medal in Rugby.
8. The United States Women’s soccer team looks to make history
A year removed from winning their third World Cup, the USWNT is looking to become the first team to win the World Cup and win the gold medal match in consecutive years. They are looking to win their fourth straight gold medal. The team is led by Forward Alex Morgan and Midfielder Carli Lloyd. Lloyd has scored the game winning goal in the last two Olympic finals.
7. Katie Ledecky will be the biggest star of the games
Ledecky shocked the world by obliterating the field in the 800 meter freestyle at the 2012 Olympics and cruising to a gold medal while breaking the American record in the process at 15 years old.
She is the current world record holder in the 400 meter, 800 meter and 1500 meter freestyle and during her career she has broken 11 world records. She has won 15 medals during her swim career and all of them have been gold.
6. What will happen with Russia after the doping scandal?
In a report on July 16 from the World Anti-Doping Agency, they said that Russian athletes used drugs to improve their performance during the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The trick was that a Russian security service would unseal the bottles with the urine that would have trace of the steroids and replace it with clean urine.
This scandal has led many people believing Russians should be banned from this Olympics. Instead, the International Olympic Committee decided that it is up to the sport federation would declare the athletes if they were eligible or not. This scandal has made it hard to judge Russian athletes if they are doping or not.
For more on the story, please visit The Guardian.
5. We could be saying goodbye to two Olympic greats
Michael Phelps has already announced that this is his last Olympics of his career. Phelps is the most decorated Olympian ever winning 22 medals and 18 gold medals in three Olympiads. Phelps put on a show in 2012 winning six medals and four gold medals before announcing he would retire after the games in London.
Then in 2014, he announced he was coming out of retirement and he came out with a bang winning the 100 meter butterfly race at the Pan Pacific Championship one month after coming out of retirement. Phelps is the first male American swimmer to ever qualify for five Olympic Games.
This may also be the last Olympic Games for Usain Bolt. Bolt is the world record holder for the 100 meter and 200 meter dash and is a two time Olympic champion in both of those events.
He was the first Olympian in the modern era to win both events at the same Olympics . He is the fastest man in the world with a blistering time of 9.58 seconds and was running 27.8 miles per hour during that race. Going into this Olympics, Bolt has been dealing with a hamstring injury which kept him out of Jamaica’s qualifying race, but Jamaican rules allow for medical exemptions so he could still be added to the team.
4. Some of the world’s top athletes have decided to stay at home instead of compete
Competing in the Olympics is a huge opportunity to compete and not only represent yourself, but your country as well and many athletes have decided to skip this year’s Olympics due to a variety of reasons.
The main concern being the Zika virus, but there are many other problems in Rio and Brazil right now (but we will get into that later). Some athletes are hurt and decided to stay home and heal up instead of putting their body and career on the line for the Olympics.
The most notable sport with the top athletes not competing is men’s basketball and the aforementioned golf. Team USA will be without LeBron James for the first time since the 2000 Olympics and will be without two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry.
3. Is Rio ready for the Olympics?
Rio has an extremely high crime rate and according to Forbes.com Brazil is the murder capital of the world. Body parts have washed up on shore of the beach where the beach volleyball tournament will be played at.
Brazilian police have hung a sign at the Rio airport saying “Welcome to Hell”. The Rio 2016 security firm was fired five days before the opening ceremonies. On top of all of this, Brazil is going through their worst recession in two decades.
There is also a problem with the water quality in Rio due to sewage pollution. Swimmers only need to ingest three teaspoons of water to most likely be in contact with a virus. The Olympics are huge worldwide which unfortunately means there is a terror threat and if Brazil is firing their security firm five days before the Olympics how will they stop a terror threat?
2. Brazil is in the process of impeaching their president
Dilma Rousseff was the president of Brazil and is being impeached for manipulating government accounts and disregarding the federal budget leading to the massive recession. Brazilian civilians have been protesting calling for an impeachment since March of 2015.
There were 37 requests of impeachment within the Chamber of Duties in September 2015 and the Congress accepted the requests and the process of impeachment began. In Brazil, two thirds of the vote (54 of the 81 senators) is required to successfully impeach the president.
The final arguments by the prosecution were delivered on July 12 and the final arguments given by the defense were delivered on July 28. This goes back to is Rio ready? Rio is the second biggest city in the country and with the country in political turmoil there could be mass chaos at these Olympics.
1. How will the athletes handle the Zika virus?
At first the Zika virus was the biggest problem in Rio, with athletes citing it as their biggest concern of not competing. It is still the biggest storyline heading into the Olympics because of how dangerous it is and how Zika is a major problem in Brazil due to the humidity in the country.
Zika is spread by the Aedes Agypti mosquito. The virus is related to the West Nile virus and the yellow fever and cannot be prevented by medication or vaccines. The virus can spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus and the virus can also live inside semen for an unknown period of time so a man could give sexual partner the virus and not even know.
The fetus when born could suffer from microcephaly, severe brain malformations or other birth defects. The Zika virus causes a disease called Zika Fever which symptoms include: fever, red eyes, joint pain, headaches and a maculopapular rash.
This year’s lead into the Olympics have been interesting. There really is not any other way to put it. These Olympics have potential to be great with the events, but also a potential to be a disaster with political and economical turmoil going on in Brazil.