The BBC are carrying the (proverbial) torch for coverage of this year’s Olympic games in Rio. It all kicks off with the much-anticipated opening ceremony on Friday 5 August. Get ready for seventeen days of watching elite sports men and women in their field (or swimming pool) striving for gold, and pushing themselves to the limits.
Building on their huge success for London 2012, the BBC are offering comprehensive coverage of the games. Clare Balding and her team of presenters host from 7pm every night, complete with a team of former Olympic athletes (including Sir Chris Hoy, Chris Boardman, Denise Lewis and many more) to lend their expertise to coverage.
Watch the BBC’s (frankly awesome) animated trailer.
The Start Line
There has been much speculation on what treats are in store for the Opening Ceremony (BBC One, 11:40pm, August 5), with some of Brazil’s most celebrated talents playing a crucial part. Expect references to carnival and samba, plus huge numbers of performers and great visual spectacle, even with the reduced budget.
Here is the moment Daniel Craig as James Bond escorted the queen to the 2012 opening ceremony.
How to Watch
As with the Opening Ceremony, most live coverage will be broadcast from 7pm due to the four hour time difference between the UK and Rio.
BBC One is the hub for Rio 2016 with all the main events live from 7pm to 4am every night/morning. If you can’t stay up for the main events (which will often be in the early hours of the morning) fear not: There are plenty of ways to catch up, starting with the Olympic Breakfast between 6am and 9:15am on BBC One.
BBC Two will be rerunning highlights of the previous night’s events between 9:15am and 12:15pm, and BBC Four will have extended hours with live coverage of other events from 1pm to 2am.
Regular Freeview viewers can watch two extra channels by pressing the red button. These will be broadcast from 7pm and 9pm, running into the early hours.
For those with Freeview HD, pressing the red button will give you access to eight streams of coverage, most running 24 hours a day. In addition to this there will be a dedicated BBC Olympics HD channel at number 114 from 7pm. Programming will include highlights, replays and much more.
For those with connected Freeview HD or Freeview Play, the following services can be accessed via the internet:
- 24 live HD streams
- Highlights and replays
- Intuitive Live/Coming up/Catch up breakdowns
- Additional text & commentary and audience interaction
- An Olympics playlist that can be tailored to your tastes.
Things to look out for
There are more sports than you can swing a cat at, although Cat Swinging (unbelievably) isn’t one of them. Even golf is included this time, along with the more familiar athletics, cycling, swimming . . . the sports are too numerous to list. Unless you want, well, a list of sports. 28 to be exact.
As with the London Olympics in 2012, Super Saturday (August 13) is the one to look out for, but because of the time difference, many of the key events are technically Sunday. Two super days it is!
Jessica Ennis-Hill in the heptathlon, Mo Farah in the 10,000 metres, and the final of the men’s long jump with Greg Rutherford are just a few of the events to look out for.
Other events to look out for include:
Usain Bolt attempting to break the record for the ‘Triple-Triple’. He is also hoping to be the first man in history to win the 100m for the third time in a row. Tune into the Men’s 100m final at 2:25am, Monday August 15, BBC One.
Tom Daley diving for gold for the UK, and showing off his new so-called ‘Firework’ dive. We wish Tom all the best in his quest for gold this year. Tune into the Men’s 10m final at 8:30pm, Saturday August 20 on BBC One.
Katie Ledecky has already set an astonishing 11 world records in swimming, so we’re really looking forward to seeing how many she can add to that as she competes. Tune into the Woman’s 800m Freestyle final at 2:20am, Saturday August 13 on BBC One.
You can use the BBC’s detailed timetables to find out when everything you want to see is on.
Most unusual sports
Sure, we love the running and the swimming, but it wouldn’t be the Olympics without the more unusual sports that only make it onto TV once every four years.
Dressage – Watching horses hop around is inherently quite amusing, but here it is presented as a competition. We hope there’s a medal for the horse as well!
Race Walking – A sort-of dressage for people, Race Walking is always a favourite when it comes to unusual sports. Participants must race against each other, but never break into a run. Cue the strange hobble that is essentially the sport.
Hand Ball – Does anyone actually know the rules for Hand Ball? Perhaps it’s the fact that we don’t that makes it more interesting to watch. The UK isn’t even represented at this niche sport. Perhaps one day, it will be as popular as it’s foot themed cousin.
Syncronised Swimming – It is undoubtedly one of the most difficult sports as it combines so many high-level elements, and yet it is quite bizarre, isn’t it? Sort of dancing upside down in a pool with lots of other people. And yet . . . If it was on at the local sport centre, you’d probably go. It’s quite mesmerising and certainly one of the more artistic offerings within the sporting events.
Shooting – It doesn’t get more sporting than this. Well, it’s what our ancestors called sport . . . Anyway, it is a compelling watch. It made it’s debut in the first modern Olympics in 1886, and is a supreme test of accuracy. Sport. Yes, it is a sport. We promise. Sport.
If you want to get into the spirit of Rio 2016, you might be surprised to learn there are one or two spin-offs in anticipation of the starting blocks . . .
If you have a smart TV, then BBC iPlayer already has a playlist titled Countdown to Rio, which includes programmes such as The Olympic Journey, Jessica Ennis-Hill: A Coach’s Story and many more.
There will also be Olympics 2016: Countdown to Rio, at 8:30, BBC One on Friday, in which Clare Balding speaks to some of the most famous Olympians of all time.
Tom Daley: Diving For Gold, Available on The ITV Hub now
The ITV hub has a few Olympics specials too. In the mini-series Ready For Rio, stars like Liam Phillips and Jazz Carlin are interviewed about their preparation for the Olympics. However, it’s the documentary with the golden boy of diving, Tom Daley, that really speaks. Tom Daley: Diving For Gold is a touching look at the personal and physical challenges the young diver has faced in the wake of the 2012 Olympics, leading up to Rio 2016.
Now you’re ready . . .
This year’s Olympics is bound to be fantastic, with never-to-be-forgotten events, and world class athleticism in every area you can imagine.
Whatever you watch of Rio 2016, you can rely on the in-depth coverage from the BBC to bring you the best of the Olympics this year.