Rio 2016 - proof of the unifying power of sport

Saturday 5 August marks one year on from the Olympic Games Rio 2016. These Games were extraordinary in so many ways. Watched by half the world’s population and with a staggering 7 billion video views of official content on social media platforms, the Games delivered many inspiring athletic achievements and proved once again the tremendous unifying power of sport.


The IOC is especially proud to have contributed far beyond its contractual obligations in order to ensure the successful staging of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. According to audited accounts, we contributed USD 1.53 billion to their success.

This is in addition to an exceptional effort to significant cost savings and additional financial undertakings by all the Olympic stakeholders that amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars to make these historic Olympic Games possible.

Rio Getty Images

The Games took place against a background of unprecedented economic, social and political challenges, which began in the years before the event, and several of which continue to affect Brazil today. Yet, despite this adversity, the Games were a great success on so many levels. This is another remarkable achievement for the organisers.

Assessing legacy is a long-term proposition. It is not something that can be truly evaluated within several weeks or months of an event, but rather over a period of several years. Nonetheless, one year on from the Games, despite the challenges that the country continues to grapple with, there are encouraging signs that activities implemented in preparation for and during the event – be they social, environmental, economic or infrastructure-based – are already demonstrating positive impacts that will be felt for years to come.

Rio Getty Images

These were the first Games to be held in South America. In another series of firsts, two NOCs – Kosovo and South Sudan – participated in the Games for the first time; and nine NOCs won their first-ever gold medals, of which three – Fiji, Jordan and Kosovo – won their first ever medals of any colour, all of them gold. Meanwhile, in yet another first, a team of refugee athletes was able to participate as part of the Refugee Olympic Team. Participation by women reached 45 per cent, the highest level yet, while 50 NOCs had more women than men in their delegations. So there was much to celebrate.

Rio Getty Images

Over 100 Olympic and world records were broken in athletics, swimming, archery, cycling, weightlifting, shooting and modern pentathlon. Meanwhile, the host country won 19 medals (7 gold, 6 silver and 6 bronze), the highest total in its history; with judoka Rafaela Silva from the City of God favela becoming Brazil’s first gold-medal winner of the Games. Overall, athletes said their experiences at the Rio Games were positive, with many saying that they exceeded expectations.

Perhaps the greatest legacy of the Olympic Games, not just in Rio de Janeiro, but of all editions of the Olympic Games, is their unifying power. In these troubled and uncertain times, the Games are the only truly global event where the whole world comes together. Rio was a perfect expression of this universality and inclusivity. Athletes from 206 NOCs and the Refugee Olympic Team came together in one place, more than at any previous edition of the Games. This is another important record, and one of which Rio can rightly be proud.

Rio Getty Images

For more on the legacy of the Olympic Games Rio 2016, click here.

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