The greatest sports event on the planet is about to kick off with more than 10,000 athletes getting ready to become the focus of the sporting world.

The Games of the XXXI Olympiad open in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in a few days and, for the next three weeks, they will feature almost 24/7 on TV, online and in newspapers.

And so they should, I reckon.

Here we will have more than 10,000 athletes "in the peak of their physical fitness" battling it out to be recognised as one of the top three in their disciplines.


There will be 306 events that offer 136 medals for women, 161 for blokes and nine mixed medals. Here we wonder what former pentathlete golden boy Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner would enter if he were competing today?

Athletes from 205 countries will take part in the Rio Games and many will bring remarkable tales of overcoming adversity just to get to Brazil.

United States sportsfolk will be ever so glad the presidential elections are this year, because should Donald Trump TRiUMPh (and I'm sure he will use that at some stage) then their journeys would be one heck of a lot harder. After all they would need to circumnavigate the Donald's proposed wall separating the US from Mexico.

They could go by plane " but then I'm sure he will have enforced a no-fly zone over the area " and ship travel would also be difficult as he would have dragooned almost everything that floats into protecting US shores from the hordes of Muslims that he thinks are so desperate to invade the land of a million bazillion guns.

Going on past history of the Olympics we know certain nations will always star in certain areas.

The Chinese will be tough to beat in gymnastics, the Yanks and Aussies will leave the others trailing in the swimming pool and the Russians will win gold for drug taking.

While I, and hopefully you, can smile at that line, honest athletes will not.

And nor should they. Drug cheats take away from the Olympics and the right of non-performance-enhanced sportspeople to be acknowledged at a Games medal ceremony.

Take shotputter Valerie Adams for example.

At the 2012 Games in London, she finished second to Belarus' Nadzeja Ostapchuk.

Only Ostapchuk's chucks were drug-fuelled and she had her gold medal taken from her. Adams got it but she was not able to hear her national anthem or see her flag rise as befits an Olympic champion.

In my view the International Olympic Committee has utterly wussed it over not banning the entire Russian sports team from going to Rio.

So far, more than a quarter of the Russian team has been banned and drug-free athletes are fuming that a country that has been proven to OK state-sponsored doping is still allowed to samba down to Rio.

Many are considering a symbolic gesture at medal ceremonies where they will leave the podium should Russian athletes finish in the top three.

But those attending the Games have more than drugged opponents to worry about.

Spare a thought for those who have to navigate the murky waters around Rio " they have been warned to keep their mouths shut.

According to the experts the waterways are teeming with all sorts of nasty bugs brought about by contamination from raw sewage and garbage. Oh, and dead bodies too.

You can imagine the horror on a swimmer's face when they discover the body they thought they were catching at training was actually dead, or the yachtie who loses a rudder due to either hitting, or being caught up with, a rotting corpse.

It would be like something out of The Walking Dead. Or, rather, The Floating Dead.

And sports fans don't get it all their own way either.

Rio's famed beaches are also contaminated and there is the ever present risk of being robbed while going to, or coming from, Olympic events.

A municipal engineer, Stelberto Soares, says the Brazilian Government's clean-up efforts have been ineffective.

"They can try to block big items like sofas and dead bodies, but these rivers are pure sludge," he said, "so the bacteria and viruses are going to just pass through."

I am not making that up, folks.

Fortunately, the IOC says the waters where athletes will compete meet World Health Organisation safety standards.

Hopefully, they haven't been using Russian scientists to test the waters.

Anyway, best of luck to all Kiwi, Aussie, Cook Island, Fijian and Solomon Island athletes in Rio. Do your best and be good sports. That is what it's all about.


- Richard Moore is an award-winning Western Bay journalist and photographer.