Once the final firework is shot into the night sky and the last athlete crosses the stadium at the opening ceremonies of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the global event will finally be all about the sports—the reason the world is turning its attention to Brazil in the first place.
Even a quick look at the Olympic schedule should feel a little overwhelming, with sports of all different types packed into each day of the approximately two-week event.
Sorting out what to watch and when can be challenging, especially for those who are eager to check out sports that get little coverage outside of the Olympics.
Here's a rundown of the more notable events of the opening weekend. For live-streaming and a complete look at all the Olympics has to offer, head on over to NBCOlympics.com.
|2016 Summer Olympics Opening Weekend, Partial Schedule|
|Saturday, August 6|
|Rowing, Cycling (Men's Road Race), Water Polo||8 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.||NBC|
|Tennis||9:30 a.m. - 10 p.m.||Bravo|
|Cycling (Men's Road Race), Swimming||10:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.||NBC|
|Beach Volleyball, Handball||Noon - 2:30 p.m.||MSNBC|
|Basketball, Beach Volleyball, Water Polo||1 p.m. - 4 p.m.||NBCSN|
|Women's Soccer (USA vs. France)||4 p.m. - 6 p.m.||NBCSN|
|Volleyball (USA vs. Puerto Rico)||4:15 p.m. - 6 p.m.||NBC|
|Rugby, Soccer||5 p.m. - 8 p.m.||CNBC|
|Men's Basketball (USA vs. China)||6 p.m. - 8 p.m.||NBCSN|
|Gymnastics, Swimming, Beach Volleyball||8 p.m. - midnight||NBC|
|Sunday, August 7|
|Tennis||9:30 a.m. - 10:30 p.m.||Bravo|
|Beach Volleyball, Rowing, Cycling (Women's Road Race)||10 a.m. - noon||NBC|
|Rugby, Volleyball||Noon - 2 p.m.||USA|
|Swimming, Cycling (Women's Road Race)||Noon - 3 p.m.||NBC|
|Men's Volleyball (USA vs. Canada)||4:15 p.m. - 6 p.m.||NBC|
|Archery, Men's Basketball||5 p.m. - 8 p.m.||NBCSN|
|Diving, Gymnastics, Swimming||7 p.m. - midnight||NBC|
If all you care about is gold-medal glory, Saturday features medal events in archery, cycling, fencing, judo, shooting, swimming and weightlifting.
Swimming is always a popular sport in the Olympics, and there's a good chance USA fans can catch teenage phenom Katie Ledecky on Saturday.
According to USA Today's Christine Brennan, Ledecky will swim in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay preliminaries. The medal race in that event is set to cap the swimming action on Day 1, but it seems Ledecky won't be on hand for the final, though she could still earn a medal if her teammates finish in the top three, per Brennan.
According to Odds Shark, Australia (-900) is the heavy favorite to win the women's 4x100-meter freestyle, followed by the United States (+575).
Saturday also features some solid team sports action. The United States women's soccer team has a tough test against France on Day 1. Soccer got a head start on most other Olympic sports. Team USA beat New Zealand 2-0 on Thursday, while France drubbed Colombia 4-0 to move to the top of Group G on goal differential.
The Americans are three-time defending champions at the Summer Games; anything less than another gold medal will be a disappointment for Carli Lloyd and Co.
Another United States squad that is expected to win gold in Rio is the men's basketball team, which begins its Olympic journey against China on Saturday.
The star-studded Team USA dominated China by scores of 106-57 and 107-57 in a pair of exhibition matches in late July. Though the United States won't enjoy familiar California confines this time around, it should still have no problem cruising to victory over China.
While every player on Team USA is familiar to even casual NBA fans, The Ringer's Jason Concepcion suggests DeMar DeRozan will raise his profile with strong, athletic play in Brazil:
Basketball fans who live outside the Toronto area, or whose rooting interest doesn’t involve copious use of the #WETHENORTH hashtag, probably don’t think about DeMar DeRozan that much. When they do, they think of him as a second-tier All-Star, a midrange scorer (his 1,238 2-point attempts led the NBA last season), a dude with a cool name that contains 100 percent more capital letters than usual, and as one of the numerous NBA free agents to hard-pass on a meeting with his hometown Lakers.
In July, he signed a $139 million deal that will keep him bundled up in Toronto for the next five years — out of sight, out of mind until spring, when the return of sun and leaf and flower reminds us it’s time for the Raptors to lose to the Cavaliers in the playoffs again.
Good news, though: DeMar is also exactly the kind of overshadowed and imperfect player who, in the post–Dream Team era, blossoms on the Olympic stage. I christen thee “Olympic DeRozan.”
There's plenty more cool stuff to check out on Saturday, including qualifying events for men's gymnastics. Had enough? On to Sunday.
Another day, another set of medal events. On Sunday, athletes who are competing in archery, cycling, diving, fencing, judo, shooting, swimming and weightlifting will take trips to the podium.
History is constantly being rewritten at the Olympics, and fans could see a historic first in the sport of diving on Sunday. Chinese diving legend Wu Minxia will compete with teammate Shi Tingmao in the women's synchronized three-meter springboard.
According to NBCOlympics.com's Nate Stuhlbarg, a gold medal would be Wu's fifth as an individual and make her the all-time leader in individual diving Olympic gold. A gold (or in some cases, even silver or bronze) would also lead to her tying or setting a host of other records.
You can count on the 30-year-old Wu to pull this off. She won gold in the three-meter synchronized springboard at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Summer Games.
From diving to swimming, fans will get their first glimpse of Michael Phelps on Day 2. According to Brennan, he will compete in the final of the men's 4x100-meter freestyle relay. The Team USA flag-bearer for the opening ceremonies, Phelps is looking to add to his legacy as the most decorated Olympian of all time (22 medals, 18 gold).
Per Odds Shark, France has the best odds of winning the men's 4x100-meter relay, followed by Australia and the United States. Phelps and Co. are only slight underdogs, however, and can perhaps find inspiration in past triumphs in order to win another gold medal.
More swimming medals also means more Ledecky. The 19-year-old will take part in the women's 400-meter freestyle, where she is the world record-holder.
There are no sure things at the Olympics, but Ledecky in the individual freestyle events is about as close as you can get to guaranteeing an outcome. According to Odds Shark, she is an absurd minus-5000 favorite to win the gold in the 400-meter freestyle.
Despite the enormous expectations and massive audience at the Olympics, Ledecky isn't the type to get overly worked up about the upcoming event.
“I mean this in a positive way, but she doesn’t care,” her coach, Bruce Gemmell, said on Thursday, per the Los Angeles Times' Nathan Fenno. “She doesn’t care it’s the Olympics any more than she cares if it’s a championship meet at home, any more than she cares if it’s her high school championship. She gets excited about all of them."
There aren't any medal events in gymnastics on the opening weekend, but Sunday is yet another chance to see Team USA on the beam and bouncing around the floor.
On Day 2, the U.S. women will participate in the qualifying round, which offers fans a fresh look at Simone Biles, who is good enough to have a signature move on the floor routine, and Gabby Douglas, who captured two golds at the 2012 London Games.
This may seem like a lot of marquee events to take in, but remember, this is just the opening weekend. After Sunday, there are still 14 more days of athletic competition to enjoy.