In this 16th installment of the “Road to the Summer Olympics,” we move to the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The bids to host the 2016 Olympics came in 2007 with several cities and countries participating for the honor. The top four, Chicago (United States), Tokyo (Japan), Madrid (Spain), and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) all hoped to win the honor. Chicago was eliminated in the first-round voting with Madrid winning the most votes and Rio coming in second. The second round favored Rio de Janeiro and it won the honor in the third round against Madrid to host the Games. The Rio Olympics would be the first Games held in South America, the first in a Portuguese-speaking country, the first held entirely in the host country’s winter season, and the first since the 1968 Mexico City Olympics to take place in Latin America.
The Rio Olympics hosted 205 National Olympic Committees nations with over 11,000 athletes. First-time participants included Kosovo, South Sudan, and the Refugee Olympic Team which was made up of 10 athletes who were refugees with the hopes of bringing attention to the worldwide refugee crisis. None of the athletes from the Refugee Olympic Team won any medals and many failed to advance from the heat results. Kuwait was banned from the Olympics due to government interference in the country’s Olympic Committee. Bulgaria and Russia saw weightlifters banned from the Olympics due to performance drug usage. New and reintroduced sports to the Olympics included baseball and softball (both dropped in 2005), karate, squash, golf (dropped after 1904), roller sports, rugby (dropped after 1924). Windsurfing was replaced by kitesurfing. The United States ranked first with 46 gold medals and 121 total, with Great Britain and China ranked as second and third. With the Rio Games, the United States surpassed 1,000 gold medals total from the Olympics since the modern inception of the Games in 1896.
The Rio Olympics had numerous controversies and problems. The Zika virus had broken out in South America and several athletes declined to participate in the Games over fears of the virus. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported no cases of Zika being contracted by athletes or visitors to the Olympics. Pollution was also a major issue of the Games, with the waters used for sailing and windsurfing competitions being heavily polluted with trash, bacteria, and diseases. Crime was also a major concern, with 2,036 murders from January to April 2016 in Rio alone. Members of a Spanish team were robbed at gunpoint, Australian Olympic Team apartments were set on fire to cause evacuations to rob the rooms. Australian rowing coaches were robbed at knifepoint, Greek team members had personal property stolen from the Olympic Village rooms, and even an ISIS-affiliated terrorist group of 10 members were arrested in Rio alleged to be planning attacks on the Olympic Games.
A rash of anti-Israel incidents occurred at the 2016 Olympics, including the Lebanese delegation being assigned the same bus as Israel delegation with the Lebanese delegation demanding the bus not allow the Israel delegation to board the bus. Saudi Arabian Joud Fahmy forfeited her match so as not to compete against Israeli Gili Cohen. Egyptian Islam El Shehaby refused to shake hands with Israeli Or Sasson or to perform the traditional post-match bow, and the IOC subsequently sent El Shehaby home early due to dishonorable and unsportsmanlike behavior. Facebook would allow users to add the Olympic logo and the team flag to their profile pictures, but Israel was not included. When later added, Israel’s flag was placed at the bottom of the list.
Brazil faced political instability and economic crisis issues regarding the uncovering of unprecedented money laundering and corruption in the government from Operation Car Wash. This led to major protests in Brazil and eventually the impeachment process against Dilma Rousseff, the president of Brazil who would be stripped of her power, thus making the Vice President Michel Temer the acting president during the Rio Olympic Games. After the Games, Brazil would face the worst economic recession for the country since 1990.
For numismatics, Brazil started making commemoratives for the Olympics in 2012. A series of circulating bi-metallic Real coins were issued for commemorating the Olympics starting in 2012 with Olympic Flag Handover. In 2014 a series featuring different sports was issued until 2016. The 2014 coin featured Athleticism, Swimming, Paratriathlon, and Golf. The 2015 coins featured Basketball, Sailing, Paracanoe, Rugby, Football (soccer), Volleyball, Paralympic Athletics, and Judo. Then, in 2016 the commemoratives feature Boxing, Paralympic Swimming, the Olympic Mascot, and the Paralympic Mascot. These coins were also issued in individual cards and multiple coin sets for collectors.
Brazil 2015 5 Reais – Running in Aterro do Falmengo Park and Arches of Lapa – PCGS PR69DCAM. Click image to enlarge.
Brazil 2016 5 Reais - 2016 Rowing at Lagos Rodrigo de Freitas and a Pau-Brasil tree – PCGS PR69DCAM. Click image to enlarge.
For NCLT issues, Brazil struck silver commemorative coinage starting in 2012 with the Olympic Flag Handover as a proof-only issue with a mintage of only 14,127 pieces. In 2014, a series was launched featuring different athletics, flora, fauna, and historical places. These include:
- 2014 Cycling in Tijuca Forest and Toninhas (dolphins)
- 2014 Rowing at Lagos Rodrigo de Freitas and Flowing Bromeliads
- 2014 Running in Aterro do Flamengo Park and the Arches of Lapa
- 2014 Volleyball on the Copacabana and Bossa Nova (Brazilian Music) Guitar Player
- 2015 Rowing at Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas and Heliconia Plant
- 2015 Cycling in Tijuca Forest and Golden Lion Tamarin
- 2015 Running in Aterro do Flamengo Park and Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum
- 2015 Volleyball on the Copacabana and Chorinho Music
- 2015 Rowing at Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas and Orchid
- 2015 Cycling in Tijuca Forest and Toucan
- 2015 Running in Aterro do Flamengo Park and Sambodrome
- 2015 Volleyball on the Copacabana and Forro Music
- 2016 Cycling in Tijuca Forest and Beach-Butterfly
- 2016 Rowing at Lagos Rodrigo de Freitas and a Pau-Brasil Tree
- 2016 Running in Aterro do Flamengo Park and Municipal Theater
- 2016 Volleyball on the Copacabana and Samba Music
Four gold NCLT coins were issued in commemoration of the 2016 Rio Olympics. All four coins feature Christ the Redeemer on one side and 2014 100 Meters Runner, 2015 Pole Vault, 2015 Wrestling, 2016 Olympic Torch. All four coins include 4.4 grams of .900-fine gold and have a mintage of only 5,000 each.
Other countries produced coins commemorating the 2016 Olympics. These countries include Australia, Belarus, Belgium, British Virgin Islands, Cameroon, Canada, The Republic of Congo, Cook Islands, Estonia, Fiji, Hungary, Israel, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Ukraine, and United Kingdom.
Despite all of the issues and difficulties with the Olympics in Rio, they did go successfully for the most part. With the world events that would come in 2020, the Games will not even take place on time for the Tokyo Olympiad, which is slated to be held a year later, in 2021.
- 2016 Summer Olympics Wikipedia.org
- Concerns and controversies at the 2016 Summer Olympics Wikipedia.org
- Refugee Olympic Team at the 2016 Summer Olympics Wikipedia.org