The Countdown To The 2016 Rio Olympics Has Started

The famous Olympic flame has already left Greece on the trip to the samba capital of Brazil, where the locals hope sports fans will be dancing on the streets in just under 100 days.

The games are a milestone for Brazil as the first Olympics to be held in South America.

Preparations are well under way across Brazil, where a welcome awaits athletes and their backroom staff from 206 countries to compete for nearly 5,000 medals in 40 sport disciplines in just 17 days.

The stadium is at Maracana, already the home of Brazilian football, while famous Copacabana will host a series of events, along with the suburbs of Barra and Deodoro.

The Rio Olympic Games will be one of the biggest ever, with 140,000 officials, 10,500 athletes and more than 300 horses.

7.5 million tickets

Swelling these numbers will be more than 20,000 media representatives and 7.5 million sports fans. So far, two thirds of the tickets have been sold and the organisers fear bad press over the Zika virus has hit sales.

Although this sounds a lot, around 11 million tickets were sold for the London Olympics in 2012. Ticket availability in Rio is about the same as for the Beijing Games in 2008 and double that of Athens in 2004.

Brazil hopes the games will go off without a hitch as the country ran a dress rehearsal only two years ago when the FIFA World Cup was played at Rio among a number of other stadiums.

Local businesses are set to cash in again as hotel rooms have shot up in price from an average £67 a night to £196. Hoteliers report brisk business, with 86% fully booked.

Neymar is Brazil favourite

Barcelona footballer Neymar, 24, is expected to star at the games as a player in Brazil’s soccer team.

Running the games has not come without problems.

Water in the rowing and canoeing centre is polluted and organisers have to collect and dump 32 tonnes of dead fish from the lagoon.

A team of 60 workers is tasked with netting the fish.

Over the days of the games, the International Olympic Committee expects between 3 billion and 4 billion people to follow the competition on TV, radio and online.