Hawke's Bay kayaker Aimee Fisher's family just can't wait until the racing starts and are expecting a spectacular performance.

They are not alone, with a handful of local families gearing up to cheer on several Bay athletes who have gone to compete.

The Rio 2016 Olympic Games opening ceremony began at 8pm yesterday, 11am today (NZT).

Three billion people worldwide are expected to watch it. More than 35,000 professionals will be involved in the ceremony with the show featuring 12 samba schools and more than 5500 costumes.

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The Fisher family might be watching from the comfort of their lounge, but their mood will match the excitement of those on the sidelines. Aimee's parents, Chris and Darryl Fisher, said it had been a privilege watching the team progress over the past couple of years.

"We just can't wait till the girls start racing on August 19. This is an amazing group of young ladies and each one brings something quite indispensable to the boat," the couple said.

Miss Fisher is currently training in Portugal and will arrive in Rio next week.

"We are looking forward to seeing them put in a spectacular performance at Rio. Part of the anticipation is that we don't really know how they will go."

They said they were happy they were not attending the games, and planned to watch the racing with family. "Aimee won't have to worry about her old man getting lost in the back streets of Rio."

Black Sticks hockey player Emily Gaddum was "right behind" the team, despite watching them from the other side of the world.

The Hawke's Bay woman, who had planned this Olympics to be her last hurrah, instead opted out after becoming pregnant.

She said the women were "fizzing" and they could not wait for their first game against Korea tomorrow (NZT). "I have spoken with captain Kayla Whitelock who said they have had a good week's preparation, with a couple of practice games and trainings."

Mrs Gaddum said the turf was "fast" and would suit the Black Sticks' style. "They have a lot of speed on attack," she said.

"There was a real buzz in the group with the New Zealand function where they named the flag bearer, and there is a good feel in the whole New Zealand team."

Hastings' woman Jo Burns' nerves are kicking in as she gears up to leave for Rio tomorrow.

The 39-year-old Havelock North Primary School teacher will be judging synchronised swimming.

"I'm really excited, but it's a little bit of nervous excitement," she said.

Mrs Burns would be leaving behind her husband and four-year-old. She said judging would be a challenge.

"I know it's going to be quite a big job getting the placings right and the marks that the teams deserve."

She had been honing her skills, having judged at big competitions in China, Canada and Fiji.

The games were not the only drawcard for the judge, and Mrs Burns was looking forward to treating her tastebuds to cultural cuisine.

Cyclist Regan Gough's parents left at the start of August to see their son take a chance at gold.

"It will be very special," father Dean Gough said.

He was "hugely proud" of his son's achievement, attained through hard work and dedication.