20 Jul Rio 2016 Olympics

All eyes are on Brazil for the Rio 2016 Olympics.


With much of this year’s games marred by the Zika virus and severe delays in construction, the Rio 2016 Olympics is now under more pressure than ever to showcase its splendour to a looming influx of both physical and virtual foreign visitors, but if any country knows how to throw a party, it’s Brazil.

Where do the games begin?

The Rio 2016 Olympics begin on 5th August 2016 and run until the 21st, with 10,500 athletes from 206 countries competing for gold.

This year’s games will see the return of Rugby sevens and Golf after a combined hiatus of 204 years.

The opening ceremony will include the usual formal ceremonial processes such as welcoming messages, hoisting of the Olympic flag and the parade of athletes from different nations. Ireland’s own two-time Olympic bronze medallist Paddy Barnes will fly the flag for Ireland as part of this year’s Opening Ceremony.

While the list of stars set to appear for the Opening and Closing ceremonies has yet to be released, spectators are guaranteed to be entertained by a string of musical and dance performances showcasing the culture of the host nation.

Olympic Venues

Situated in the coastal south-west of the city, Barra is the main Olympic zone. The Olympic Golf Course is in Barra, just south of the Olympic Park. Barra is also the location of the athletes’ accommodation and the Olympic Beach and Rua Carioca leisure areas.


To the west of the city, Deodoro Olympic Park is home to nine venues hosting the rugby sevens and the combined sections of the modern pentathlon, the Equestrian Centre, Hockey Centre, Shooting Centre and Mountain Bike and BMX centres.


Just north of the city centre, Maracanã is the location of the Olympic Stadium as well as the Maracanã Stadium, which will host the opening and closing ceremonies. Both stadiums will host events in soccer, and the Olympic Stadium will host events in track and field athletics.

Maracanã is in the centre of Rio, so depending on where you’re staying, the Olympic venues should be easy to reach on foot or by local bus or train.


Rio’s famous beach neighbourhood will host the beach volleyball events in an arena at the northern end of the 3km long coastal strip.

Fort Copacabana at the southern end will be the location for the swimming and cycling legs of the triathlons, some road cycling events, the marathon swimming and the Paralympic marathon.


If you’re visiting Rio during the Olympics and you haven’t yet booked your accommodation you can expect high prices and limited availability.

With up to a million people set to visit Rio during the games, and 80% of the city’s accommodation reportedly already booked by teams, sponsors and officials, options for tourists will be limited.

Many of Rio’s residents are taking the initiative to get out of the city and cash in on renting out their homes.

Places to visit

The beach made famous in the bossa nova song “The Girl from Ipanema” in the 1960s remains one of Rio’s most popular tourist spots today. A long, arcing expanse of soft white sand and rolling waves, Ipanema routinely reaches the top of the “Best Beaches in the World” lists year after year. The beach is bordered by a well-organized grid of shops, cafés and restaurants as well as an array of art galleries, theaters and clubs.

Separated from Ipanema to the west, Copacabana has a more active vibe than its equally famous neighbour.


Perched at the top of Corcovado Peak in the Tijuca Forest National Park, the 125-foot statue of Jesus is one of the world’s most iconic sights.

The most popular way to reach the statue is to get a train which takes approximately 20 minutes to reach the top.

Don't forget basic safety

The excitement of traveling to the Olympics and seeing thousands of foreign visitors can make you forget basic travel safety and ignore advisories.

In particular in the run up to this year’s Olympics, headlines continue to focus on the Brazil’s tumultuous political issues, struggling economy and their battle with the Zika virus.

For those travelling to games its recommend to have travel insurance prior to their trip to protect them in case of sickness, illness, or injury during their travels. Having a travel insurance policy can also be helpful if an unexpected event occurs in which your trip has to be cancelled.

Aoife O'Connor