As at every edition of the Olympic Games, changes to the competition format or the events themselves have been made. In Rio, there are also two sports making a comeback: rugby and golf.
At the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio, from 5 to 21 August, there will be 28 sports in competition, 42 disciplines and 306 medal events, four more than at the Games in London in 2012. This is explained by the return of golf and rugby (sevens format) to the Olympic Games, as there will be two tournaments for each of these sports, one for men and one for women. For the rest, the sports programme also includes several changes made by the International Federations for each sport, and approved by the IOC.
In accordance with the International Fencing Federation’s principle concerning team tournaments at each edition of the Summer Games (in order to remain stable at a total of 10 events in the three weapons), men’s team sabre, which was in competition at the Games in London in 2012, is replaced by men’s epée. In the women’s competition, the team sabre replaces the foil. Therefore, for both men and women, there will be three individual events (foil, epée and sabre) and two team events (men’s epée and foil, and women’s epée and sabre).
For the first time since 1904, i.e. 112 years, the world’s best golfers, both men and women, will be competing, this time on the Marapendi Olympic Golf Course in the Barra de Tijuca zone. Sixty men and sixty women will compete in a Stroke-Play tournament, where the competitors complete the 18-hole course four times, trying to finish with as few strokes as possible. Each tournament will be held over four days, from 11 to 14 August for the men, and from 17 to 20 August for the women.
A new format is being inaugurated in Rio for every match: they will now be split into four quarters of 15 minutes, instead of two halves of 35 minutes. Forty-second time-outs will take place after each penalty corner or goal.
With an equal number of medals available (18), one category of men’s Greco-Roman wrestling and one of men’s freestyle have been removed from the programme, to allow two weight categories to be added to the women’s competition. Thus, for each wrestling style, there are six events. Women increase from four to six categories, and both men’s styles decrease from seven to six categories. This has also led to a full revision of the weights in the three competitions.
The five events are grouped in the same place, within a small area of the Deodoro competition venue. Fencing is now split into two sections: a pool ranking round with strikes, followed by an elimination round called the Bonus Round, where each victory brings bonus points. The ranking round takes place on the day before the actual competition. The elimination-bonus round, the 200m freestyle swimming, the show jumping and the combined running and shooting will be held on the same day, 19 August for women, and 20 August for men.
The oval ball is returning to the Games, after four men’s 15s tournaments were played from 1900 to 1924. The spectacular rugby sevens format has been selected for this comeback, with two men’s and women’s tournaments each bringing together 12 teams. The teams will be split into three pools of four in the first round. The two top-placed teams in each pool and the two best third-placed teams will qualify for the elimination phase, with quarter-finals, semi-finals, bronze medal matches and finals. The women’s final will take place on 8 August, and the men’s on 11 August.
The two keelboat series, men’s Star and women’s Elliott 6, have been removed from the programme. In their place are the women’s 49er FX (a two-seater single hull with three sails, similar to the men’s 49er), and the Nacra 17 (a two-seater catamaran with three sails). The Nacra 17 is a mixed event (the first at the Games in sailing since 1988!), with one man and one woman on board. There are still 10 Olympic sailing series, divided up as follows: five men’s events (RS.X windsurfing, Laser, Finn, 470 and 49er), four women’s events (RS:X windsurfing, Laser Radial, 470 and 49er FX), and one mixed event (Nacra 17).
At these Games, for the finals, all competitors start again from scratch. This means that the qualification phase scores will no longer count at this decisive stage. The tournaments in the rifle and pistol target events will now be held on an elimination basis.