In 2016, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will be the host city of the Games of the XXXI Olympiad. This will be the first time a South American country will host the world at Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The Olympic Games will take place from 5 to 21 August and will involve some 10,500 athletes from over 200 member countries of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The Games will feature 28 sports, two more (golf and rugby) than in London 2012, and 42 disciplines. The sporting events will be held in 34 venues located in four different parts of the city: Barra, Copacabana, Deodoro and Maracanã. About 2,102 medals will be awarded, and over 7.5 million tickets to attend the various competitions have already been made available for sale.
The Paralympic Games will take place from 7 to 18 September. Some 4,000 athletes from over 170 countries will compete in events relating to 23 sports, including two new ones (canoeing and triathlon). Approximately 2,347 medals will be presented to the athletes, and nearly 3.3 million tickets to attend the competitions have been put on sale.
Canada’s Participation in Previous Summer Olympic Games
The idea of reviving the Olympic Games in the modern era was proposed by Pierre de Coubertin, who saw it as a way to build a more peaceful world. The first modern Games took place in Athens in 1896. Since then, the Summer Games have been held in a different city every four years, except for 1916, 1940 and 1944 due to the two world wars.
Canadian athletes have participated in every Summer Olympic Games, except those of 1896 and 1980. Canada has hosted the Summer Games once, when it welcomed 6,084 athletes from 92 nations (or countries) to Montreal in 1976. While Canada did not win a gold medal on home soil, it finished in 13th place overall with 11 medals thanks to the outstanding performance of Canadian swimmers, who singlehandedly won eight medals. At the most recent Summer Games, in London, Rosie MacLennan was the only member of the Canadian Olympic Team to win a gold medal in trampoline. She was recently named to carry the Canadian flag at the opening ceremony of the Rio Games.
Figure 1 – Canada’s Performance in the Summer Olympic Games, 1976–2012
* In 1979, the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan provoked a wave of protests in the world that
led about 62 countries, including Canada, to boycott the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics.
Sources: The Canadian Olympic Committee and Sports-reference.com.
Canada’s Participation in Previous Summer Paralympic Games
A British doctor, Sir Ludwig Guttman, was responsible for establishing Games for people with disabilities. In 1948, following the Second World War, he organized international games at his hospital to help rehabilitate paraplegic veterans. In 1960, the Paralympic Games were officially inaugurated in Rome. Some 400 para-athletes from 23 countries took part.
Canada has participated in every Summer Paralympic Games, except those of 1960 and 1964. In 1976, Canada hosted the Summer Paralympic Games in Toronto. These Games played a pivotal role in garnering ongoing funding from the Canadian government for the development of sporting activities for people with disabilities. Today, Canada is a leader in the Paralympic movement and its athletes always rank amongst the best in high-level international competitions, including the Paralympic Games.
Figure 2 – Canada’s Performance in the Summer Paralympic Games, 1976–2012
Sources: The Canadian Paralympic Committee and IPC Historical Results Database.
The Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro and Canada’s Participation
Since the Seoul Games of 1988, the slogan chosen for the Games has been one of the key symbols of each Olympiad. The slogan of the Rio Games, “A New World,” refers to unity, respect for diversity and the will for change.
When the Games begin on 5 August in Maracanã Stadium, the Olympic flame will have passed through over 300 cities in Brazil and been carried by some 12,000 torchbearers.
Canada plans to send a delegation of 314* athletes – its largest ever – competing in 37 disciplines. A former Olympic medallist in track cycling, Curt Harnett, is Team Canada’s chef de mission for Rio 2016. For the last Olympic Games, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) had set a goal of having Canada place in the top 12 countries in the medal count. Canada is pursuing the same goal in Rio.
The Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) is expecting about 155 Canadian athletes to travel to Rio in September participating in 19 sports. A five-time Paralympian and Senator, Chantal Petitclerc, will serve as chef de mission for Team Canada. For London 2012, the CPC had set a goal of finishing among the top eight countries in the medal count. In Rio, the goal is to be in the top 16 in the final medal standings.
CBC/Radio-Canada will be the official broadcaster of the Games of the XXXI Olympiad across Canada, providing programming on all its platforms. For the first time ever, the public broadcaster is promising a virtual reality experience that will allow viewers to immerse themselves in the heart of the Olympic action.
The Federal Government’s Involvement in the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro
Sport Canada, a branch of the Department of Canadian Heritage, has the following mission with respect to the Games of the XXXI Olympiad:
- to support Olympic and Paralympic athletes through two programs, the Athlete Assistance Program (AAP) and the Sport Support Program (SSP); and
- to direct the preparation for the Games by coordinating with government and sports partners, and by supporting the federal government’s official delegation, which will represent Canada at this major sporting event.
Sport Canada also provides support to the non-profit organization, Own the Podium, which aims to increase the number of medals Canada wins at international sporting events such as the Olympic and Paralympic Games. To that end, Own the Podium “focuses its funding … on coach/technical leadership, training/competition, and sports science/medical support to aid sports identified with the greatest medal potential.”
* As of August 3rd, 2016.
CBC/Radio Canada, “Rio 2016”
Official site of the Canadian Olympic Committee, “Rio 2016”
Author: Armine Tchakmakchian, Library of Parliament