All eyes will be on Rio de Janeiro as the 31st Summer Olympics kickstarts in the South American city.
The 2016 Olympic Games will begin with a grand opening ceremony at the Maracana Stadium. More than 10,000 athletes from a record 206 countries and a Refugee Olympic Team will be competing in 28 sporting events.
India is sending its biggest Olympics contingent of 118 members to Rio. India looks to grab its first ever double-digit medal haul riding on the sheer number of qualifiers.
The Indian contingent will be led by shooter and Olympic medallist Abhinav Bindra. In his fifth and final appearance, Bindra will be India’s flag-bearer at the opening ceremony. He will be joined by London Olympics bronze-medallist Gagan Narang.
In the run up to the Olympics, doping scandals seem to have spoilt the enthusiasm of many. Russia was the worst affected as the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) banned Russian track and field athletes from participating in the event. This came after WADA reported state-sponsored doping in Russia just months before the Games. However, Russia escaped a complete ban as the IOC cleared 271 athletes from the country’s original entry list of 389.
Some of Indian participants too floundered because of doping. Sprinter Dharambir Singh and shot-putter Inderjeet Singh have been suspended after they were caught in a doping net.
Wrestler Narsingh Yadav too had a tough time making it to Rio. Yadav was caught in a doping storm as well but he managed to clear his name after convincing NADA that he was victim of conspiracy and sabotage.
Despite the doping scandal, India looks to bag more medals in this Olympics.
Shooting, boxing, wrestling, archery, tennis and badminton are some of the sports that India is counting on.
Jitu Rai, Abhinav Bindra, Narsingh Yadav, Yogeshwar Dutt, Bopanna, Sania Mirza and Saina Nehwal are expected to be some of the medal winners for India.
High hopes also ride on boxers Shiva Thapa (56kg) and Vikas Krishan (75kg).
Gymnastics also holds some promise as 22-year-old Tripura girl Dipa Karmakar has become the first female gymnast from India to qualify.
The Rio games are set to take off amidst tight security. Armed police and security personnel continue to are patrol Olympic venues and streets in Rio de Janeiro.
Not just that, vendors who usually sell beverages and snacks have been banned from working during the Games due to the safety concerns. Only those who are officially authorized can trade in designated areas.
According to authorities, neither water nor unpacked foods are allowed in Olympic venues, and all personal items must go through security checks.
During the Games, the Brazilian federal police, army and air force, as well as Rio police officers, will work together to patrol all venues, stadiums and related areas 24/7.
(With inputs from agencies)