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2016 Rio Olympics Guide: Everything Global Citizens Need to Know

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The 2016 Summer Olympics kicked off Friday night in Rio de Janeiro with a spectacular opening ceremony that explored Brazil's history, its current political situation, and an allegory of climate change

The four-hour ceremony was directed by Brazil’s Fernando Meirelles, the director of “City of God,” and producer Daniela Thomas.

The highlight of the evening was the introduction of the first-ever all refugee team, which received thunderous applause and cheers from around the world.    

Read More: Meet The First-Ever All-Refugee Olympic Team

The official team of refugee athletes marched in front of the host country carrying an Olympic flag.

refugeeteam.jpgImage: UNHCR

Each one of the 10 refugee athletes — from 18-year-old Syrian swimmer Yasra Mardini, to judo duo who fled civil war only to become refugees again in Brazil in 2013 — will proudly walk “representing all refugees in the world” as judo Olympian Yolande Mabika said.

They have the support of the world, and brave leaders like Malala already stand with them.

These are the athletes to watch throughout the rest of the games. Each has encountered challenges along the way to Rio. Meanwhile, the host country has had its own troubles.

The threat of the Zikavirus, reports of violence, including gang rape, protests, unfinished rooms and infrastructure, and concerns around dangerous water pollution levels are just some of the issues and criticisms Brazil has faced since the country’s bid was accepted by the International Olympics Committee six years ago.

Read More: Is hosting the Olympics really a good idea for a country?

However, there have been positive global messages. An inspirational song from Katy Perry, and small steps when it comes to sustainability by the IOC like revamping the Olympics medals to be made from recycled metal.

Throughout the next 17 days of Olympic competitions, events, and media coverage we should focus on the people in Rio more than anything.

Between the Refugee Olympic Team, the courageous four women competing from gender-restricted Saudi Arabia, protesters and people on the street, and high-profile athletes, there will be a lot to pay attention to. Here is your Global Citizen guide to events, people, and topics to set a reminder and tune in to watch, or read about, and discuss.  

Refugee Olympics Team Athletes:

Who: Yasra Mardini

Competing in: Women’s swimming

When: Saturday August 6 (100m butterfly), August 10 (100m freestyle)

Read More: After nearly drowning in Lesbos, Yusra Mardini swims for Olympic Refugee Athletes team

Who: Rami Anis

Competing in: Men’s swimming

When: August 9 (100m freestyle), August 11 (100m butterfly)

Read More: His Uncle Swam for Syria; Now Rami Anis Joins Refugee Olympic Team

Who: Yonas Kinde

Competing in: Men's track & field (Marathon)

When: August 21

Read More: Yonas Kinde: Marathon Runner First, Ethiopian Refugee Second

Who: Anjelina Nadai Lohalith

Competing in: Women's track & field (1500m)

When: August 12

Read More: Anjelina runs for Olympic Refugee team in hopes of returning home

Who: Yolande Mabika

Competing in: Women’s judo (70kg)

When: August 10

Read More: Why this Olympic Judoka wrestler is fighting for it all

Who: Popole Misenga

Competing in: Men’s judo (90kg)

When: August 10

Read More: Popole Misenga Landed in Rio — But Not How Most Olympians Got There

Who: Rose Nathike Lokonyen

Competing in: Women's track & field (800m)

When: August 17

Read More: ‘I Was Just Running Barefoot:’ Now Rose Is Sprinting for Gold

Who: James Nyang Chiengjie

Competing in: Men's Track & Field (400m)

When: August 12

Read More: James Nyang Chiengjie Ran From Civil War. Now He’s Running for the Gold

Who: Yiech Pur Biel

Competing in: Men's track & field (800m)

When: August 12

Read More: 11 Years Ago He Fled Sudan; Now He Is Running in the Olympics

Who: Paulo Amotun Lokoro

Competing in: Men's track & field (1500m)

When: August 16

Read More: Paulo Lokoro Left Home Without Even a Pair of Shoes; Now He’s an Olympian

Female Athletes From Saudi Arabia:

Who: Sara Al-Attar

Competing in: Women's track & field (800m)

When: August 17

Who: Cariman Abu Al-Jadail

Competing in: Women’s track & field (100m)

When: August 12

Who:  Lubna Al-Omair

Competing in: Women’s fencing (Individual foil)

When: August 10

Who: Wujud Fahmi

Competing in: Women’s judo (52kg)

When: August 7

Big Names to Watch:

Michael Phelps (who is now a confirmed human), and Katie Ledecky (suspected swim champ), Usain Bolt (Global Goals champion!), Serena Williams (taking time off from literally building schools) and many more.

Topics to Stay Tuned Into:

Political corruption, Russia’s drug scandal, animal abuse, political instability, safety of athletes, attendees, and Brazilian locals, protests, inspirational ads, what food is being served in Brazil — you name it there will be a lot to talk about and we’ll be covering it in the coming weeks for Global Citizens.

What to do when you’re sad all the excitement is over? Tune back in for the Paraolympics Sept. 7.


By taking action on Global Citizen, you will have a chance to win tickets to this year's Global Citizen Festival in New York City on Sept. 24, 2016.

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