Olympics Updates: 271 Russian Athletes Cleared To Compete In Rio

Updates on the Rio Olympics right up to the opening ceremony.

The opening ceremony for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro is coming soon, on Friday Aug. 5. The games are happening amid concerns about the Zika virus, lodging, and security, and amid the Russian athlete doping scandal.

BuzzFeed will have reporters and writers there as 10,000 athletes take part in 300 events over 17 days. Keep up with this post for news updates ahead of the games.


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The Olympics actually played Niger’s national anthem instead of Nigeria’s by mistake

The Nigerian men's soccer team was confused when their Olympic match against Japan was about to start Thursday and the national anthem playing wasn't their country's. It turns out that the song that played was actually Niger's national anthem.

Yes, Nigeria and Niger are two completely different countries.

Read the full story here.

–Hayes Brown

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IOC approves 271 Russian to compete in the Rio games.

The International Olympic committee issued its decision on Thursday night. Out of the 389 athletes considered, 271 were cleared to compete, the IOC said in a statement.

The Russian National Olympic Committee had to meet a strict set of conditions before the IOC would accept it's athletes submissions.

–Jessica Simeone

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IOC president says decision on eligibility of Russian athletes will be announced later Thursday

Thomas Bach said in a press conference Thursday that a list of Russian athletes eligible for the Olympics will be made public later in the day.

According to a number of reporters tweeting from the press conference, Bach defended the decision to not issue a complete ban on Russian athletes.

"We have applied a system of justice, a three-step procedure, analyzing each individual Russian athlete," Bach said when asked if the IOC has been tough enough on Russia.

He said the IOC will first inform the Russian Federation on how many athletes have been cleared to compete and will then make that list available to the press.

—Mary Ann Georgantopoulos

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Report: USA Gymnastics executives did not alert authorities to allegations of sexual abuse by coaches

An IndyStar investigation reveals that executives from USA Gymnastics — which develops the US Olympic team — did not alert authorities to allegations of sexual abuse by coaches.

The organization touts more than 121,000 athletes and 3,000 gyms across the country.

In one case examined by the IndyStar, a coach preyed on female athletes for seven years. USA Gymnastics executives allegedly did not act on the first four warnings they received about the coach.

Read the full investigation here.

—Mary Ann Georgantopoulos

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Syrian teenager who pushed sinking boat to the coast will compete in the Olympics

An 18-year-old Syrian woman who nine months ago helped push a sinking boat full of refugees to shore will now compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

Yusra Mardini recounted the incident to the UN Refugee Agency in an interview.

The Europe-bound boat's engine died, causing water to collect inside the dinghy. The boat, which had been carrying about 20 people, began to sink.

Mardini said that she and her sister Sara jumped into the water and began to kick as they pushed the boat. Their attempts were unsuccessful, and they wound up pushing the boat to the shores of the Greek island of Lesbos three and a half hours later.

She eventually relocated to Berlin, where the coach of a charity-based sports club noticed her talents and told her, "Our goal must be the 2020 Tokyo Olympics."

Recently, though, Mardini qualified to compete in the 2016 Games and will race in the 100-meter butterfly.

Read more here.

Siraj Datoo

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Experts warn athletes that Rio de Janeiro's waterways are as filthy as ever

A 16-month-long study commissioned by the Associated Press has discovered that Rio de Janeiro's waterways are contaminated with raw human sewerage and full of dangerous viruses and bacteria.

Tests by the AP show that some 1,400 athletes involved in water competitions risk getting ill, while tourists are also at risk from water at the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana.

The study found "consistent and dangerously high levels of viruses" at the aquatic Olympic and Paralympic venues.

The first results of the study, published a year ago, showed viral levels at up to 1.7 million times what would be considered worrisome in the United States or Europe.

"Seeing that level of human pathogenic virus is pretty much unheard of in surface waters in the US," Dr. Valerie Harwood, chair of the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of South Florida, told the AP. "You would never, ever see these levels because we treat our waste water. You just would not see this."

Harwood's warning to athletes: "Don't put your head under water." Swimmers who cannot heed that advice stand to ingest water through their mouths and noses and therefore risk "getting violently ill," she said.

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11 amazing Olympians on Team USA who are also parents

So proud to be theirs 💙💚💛 #blessed

Kerri Walsh Jennings and her original partner, Misty May-Treanor, became beach volleyball legends after winning the gold in each of the last three Olympics.

But when May-Treanor retired after the 2012 Games, Walsh Jennings had to start anew. She enters the Rio Olympics with the biggest challenge of her career — to win the gold with a new partner, April Ross, and to do it as one of the older players on the beach (she's 37).

On being a world-class athlete and a parent, Walsh Jennings said, "The balancing act of motherhood and a career, and being a wife, is something that I don't think I'll ever perfect, but I love the challenge of it."

Read about the other parent athletes representing Team USA here.

Mike Spohr

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8 actual health risks at the Rio Olympics (hint: Zika isn’t one)

Despite being categorized as a global public health emergency, Zika is not among the most pressing risks in Rio at the Summer Olympics.

Part of this is because, as noted in a recent Centers for Disease Control analysis, the games take place during Brazil's winter months; the cool, dry weather will likely reduce the presence of mosquitos.

The CDC only considers four countries at risk to contract the mosquito-borne virus and bring it back home: Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, and Yemen. These projections are attributed to the fact that people from these nations rarely travel to Brazil, which could increase the chance of a first-time exposure to the virus.

Instead, experts point to poor water quality, sun exposure, the flu, dengue and chikungunya viruses (both mosquito-borne), parasites and fleas, STDs, crime, and the germs tourists will bring with them as bigger concerns than Zika.

Read more here.

Dan Vergano

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These charts show which track-and-field records could be broken in Rio — not many

The thrill of the Olympic Games lies in the question of whether top athletes will break world records, but scientific data suggests competitors have long been performing at or near their peak biological capacity, minimizing the chance of records falling at the games in Rio.

This may be especially true in men's and women's track and field, according to data analyzed and published by the International Association of Athletics Federations.

Statisticians who specialize in top athletic performance have noticed a leveling off in recent years, and calculate that men's middle- and long-distance running times are within 3% of the limit imposed by human biology.

Another factor affecting the possibility of fallen records in Rio is the history of doping. It ran rampant in the 1980s, especially in East Germany. Since then, athletes have not even come close to matching the records set during that time.

Read more here.

Peter Aldhous

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International weightlifting federation bans Russian athletes from Olympics amid doping violations

The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) on Friday announced a ban on Russian athletes following the International Olympic Committee barring several of the country's athletes from competition amid a doping scandal.

The IOC did not place a blanket ban on all Russian athletes. They can only compete if they meet the criteria laid out by the athletic governing body. Athletes who have previously been sanctioned for doping, for example, are not allowed to compete.

The IWF said in a statement that four of the eight nominated Russian weighlifters were listed in the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) as "beneficiaries of the Disappearing Positive Methodology System" — which would make positive doping tests appear negative.

The weightlifting organization also noted "extremely shocking and disappointing statistics" about seven weightlifters.

"As of today there are 7 confirmed AAFs [Adverse Analytical Findings] for Russian weightlifters from the combined reanalysis process" of the London and Beijing Olympics, putting them in violation of the IOC's competition criteria, the IWF wrote.

It is unclear whether there was overlap between the athletes who were beneficiaries of the Disappearing Positive Methodology System and those who had been confirmed AAFs.

"The integrity of the weightlifting sport has been seriously damaged on multiple times and levels by the Russians, therefore an appropriate sanction was applied in order to preserve the status of the sport," the IWF wrote. —Tamerra Griffin

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This map shows how the Olympic torch’s route dodged poor people

The route chosen for the Olympic torch relay ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio shows that the relay route favors developed cities and skips poorer areas of the country.

The Olympic torch's tour through 329 Brazilian cities is a way "to bring the Olympic spirit to every corner of the country," according to the Rio 2016 Committee. But when BuzzFeed News compared the Human Development Index, or HDI, for the places along the route of the torch relay, that wasn't exactly the case.

Of the 329 cities along the route, 198 (60.2%) have an HDI score considered "high" by international standards, while 33 (10%) cities on the route have a "very high" rating. —Alexandre Aragão

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Rio police greet Olympics visitors with protest banners: “Welcome to Hell”

Police and firefighters in Rio de Janeiro welcomed travelers landing at Galeão International Airport on Monday with banners decrying delayed wages and the lack of infrastructure to tackle crime at the site of this year's Olympic Games. —Tatiana Farah

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This athlete says Rio is “fucked” after he was “kidnapped” by two cops

New Zealand jujitsu athlete Jason Lee claimed he was kidnapped by two officers in full uniform who took him to two ATMs so he could withdraw cash for a bribe.

"I'm not sure what's more depressing," he wrote, "the fact this stuff is happening to foreigners so close to the Olympic Games or the fact that the Brazilians have to live in a society that enables this absolute bullshit on a daily basis."

—Rob Stott

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