On August 5, Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will come alight in flame and in flair. The world’s most iconic soccer stadium will host the opening ceremony and mark the official beginning of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. If the World Cup was any indication of how Brazil hosts an event, Rio 2016 promises to be a spectacle of contagious energy and colourful diversity.
Beyond medals and results, humbling stories of human nature and perseverance write the true headlines of the Games. As an adult, the Olympics can turn the most composed men and women into overgrown crybabies, while serving as the greatest classroom of life lessons for children. All things considered, from culture to competition, the Summer Olympic Games are a must-watch for children, adults, and families alike. While we wait in anticipation for the tales of triumph to emerge, here are seven reasons to come together to watch this August:
History will be made as Brazil becomes the first South American country to host an Olympic Games. As the world spotlight shines on this vast land, take advantage of the opportunity to teach kids about the beauty of Brazil. Fun fact: athletes will be served traditional Brazilian food including rice, black beans, and barbecued meat.
2. Kids watching kids
This is the first Olympic Games in which athletes competing may be born in the 2000s. While each sport federation determines its own age requirements, the youngest athletes will be competing in the gymnastics events and can become quite an inspiration for young viewers at home.
3. New(ish) sports
After an absence spanning 112 years, golf will return to the Olympic Games this summer and 18-year-old Brooke Henderson is among four Canadians selected to the team. Also joining the list of sports at Rio 2016 and making its Olympic debut is Rugby Sevens. Help welcome these newcomer sports by learning the rules as a family, you never know who might take a greater interest.
4. Meet Vinicius
Perched in a tree house in the Tijuca Forest is the Olympic Games mascot, Vinicius, named after the Brazilian poet who penned Bossa Nova. He is a mixture of Brazilian animals and represents the Brazilian people and culture, as well as its exuberant nature. Keep an eye out for this kid-friendly creature who will surely be seen throughout the Games.
5. Around the world
More than 10,000 athletes from over 200 countries will be competing at the Olympic Games in Rio. By watching the Games, kids will be exposed to flags, anthems, rituals, and traditions unique to each nation, as well as the stories of the athletes who represent them. The ones to watch aren’t necessarily the winners, but the ones who overcame obstacles just to be there.
The Olympic Games are an incredible opportunity to expose youngsters to sports outside of their community and comfort zone. Events such as modern pentathlon, mountain biking, canoe/kayak, and judo are just some of the sports that could be new for kids watching this summer. Athletes competing in these sports demonstrate a wide range of movement skills and as elite athletes are excellent examples of what it can be like to be physically literate.
7. National pride
Nothing stirs up patriotic feelings more quickly than cheering on Team Canada with the rest of the nation. We live in an amazing country and our athletes make us proud to be Canadian.
We hope you’re as excited as we are about the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil. Stay tuned for weekly Olympic roundups here at Active for Life that will focus on the human side of the Games and what to watch with the kids.