#ROADTORIO: Join in on Olympic Fever #100DaysOut

We are 100 days out from the 2016 Olympics in Rio so that’s cause for a celebration. Celebrate with News 2 and the Today Show as we follow what everyone is talking about, social media excitement and most importantly, Team USA!

The buzz is all about who will represent Team USA.

While many athletes have earned their spots and a chance to bring home the gold, others will be vying for a place on the team over the coming weeks when swimming, gymnastics and other sports hold trials.

Golf returns to the Olympics after an absence of more than a century, and the sports world is full of predictions about who will be teeing off for the United States. But with each team limited to four players, many favorites will be staying home.

Then there is the Zika virus, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just concluded is causing microcephaly and other birth defects. Brazil’s health ministry has been working to ease visitors’ fears, but some athletes are weighing whether to give the Rio Games a pass.

As 10,500 athletes from across the globe prepare to compete in the first Olympics to be held in South America, here are some ways to follow along now:

Watch America’s best earn a trip to Rio

Many spots on Team USA won’t be finalized until just before before the Opening Ceremony. Trials for some of the most popular events — including swimming and diving, track and field and gymnastics — have yet to be held.

That means you can watch your favorite athletes battle for a trip to Rio de Janeiro. On the calendar in June: diving in Indianapolis from June 18-26, men’s gymnastics in St. Louis from June 24-26, and swimming in Omaha, Nebraska, from June 26 to July 3.

On the calendar in July: track and field in Eugene, Oregon, from July 1-10, and women’s gymnastics in San Jose, California, from July 8-10.

So far, about 100 athletes have qualified in sports from boxing to wrestling. By the time August arrives, more than 500 athletes will have made the team. NBC Olympics is keeping track of the competitors here.

Pentathlete Nathan Schrimsher became the first official member of the U.S. Olympic team last July when he finished third in the 2015 Pan American Games. The 23-year-old will compete in the Olympics for the first time. The modern Olympic pentathlon consists of swimming, fencing, riding and a combination of running and shooting.

In the qualifying marathon in Los Angeles in February, Galen Rupp, Meb Keflezighi and Jared Ward won the top three places for the men, and Amy Cragg, Desi Linden and Shalane Flanagan for the women.

Triathletes Gwen Jorgensen and Sarah True have snagged spots, as have Yue Jennifer Wu, a table tennis competitor, and Jordan Wilimovsky, Sean Ryan and Haley Anderson, all open water swimmers.

At the London 2012 Games, American women outnumbered American men in total medals and gold medals, and they are expected to dominate again in Rio. The U.S. women’s teams are world champions in basketball, gymnastics, soccer,volleyball and water polo, and all eyes are on Claressa Shields, the first American woman to win Olympic gold in boxing at the London Games; gymnast Simone Biles, three-time world all-around champion; swimmer Katie Ledecky, an Olympic gold medalist at 15; and tennis star Serena Williams.

In basketball, the final names for men’s and women’s teams will be announced by July 18. Among the finalists are LeBron James — though he says he is undecided about Rio — and Carmelo Anthony for the men’s team, and Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird, both three-time gold medalists, for the women’s.

The U.S. women’s soccer team qualified for the Games, though the men’s team failed to, and its roster also must be announced by July 18.

And U.S. women’s water polo team goes to the Games as the reigning Olympic gold medalists. The team qualified by finishing in the top four in a tournament in March in the Netherlands, where it went undefeated and outscored opponents 123-35.

Who won’t be going?

Some of the country’s top stars will not be making the trip, sidelined by injuries and for other reasons.

Kobe Bryant announced he would not play in Rio after retiring from the Los Angeles Lakers because he thought it was a younger man’s turn to play. Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers also withdrew from consideration, while New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis was forced out by knee and shoulder injuries.

In soccer, Sydney Leroux and Megan Rapinoe were both on the U.S. women’s World Cup team, but they will not be in Rio. Leroux is pregnant and Rapinoe is injured. Goalkeeper Hope Solo said in February that she would skip Rio if the games were being held then because of her fears of Zika.

Zika virus continues to be a worry

The CDC released travel guidelines that urge talking to your health provider about recommended vaccines and medicines, packing a health kit and monitoring travel warnings from the U.S. Department of State. Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant should take special precautions.

Much is still being learned about the virus, which has been linked to birth defects and which researchers have discovered can be transmitted sexually, not just through mosquito bites.

In February, the head of the World Health Organization praised the Brazilian government for its handling of the outbreak, but warned the situation could get worse before it gets better. Brazil has stressed that the mosquito population is much lower in August, the country’s winter.

Golf’s Olympic comeback

Golf returns for the first time since 1904, when only the United States and Canada competed — and a Canadian won the individual gold.

Among the United States’ best prospects: Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler.

But some of the world’s top players have said they will be giving the Games a pass. Vijay Singh, from Fiji, was the first to say he would not play. South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen last week pulled out, citing family and scheduling issues. Adam Scott of Australia earlier said he would skip Rio, also citing a busy schedule.

Golf’s crowded schedule of championships has been a concern for players, but golf legend Jack Nicklaus is worried about the message they send by withdrawing.

“If the guys don’t want to participate, then we might not be in the Olympics after this,” he told Golf Digest. “They vote next year. And if they vote to keep golf in, then that’s great, but if not then we lose that momentum with growing the game.”

Before the vote to reinstate golf — 72 holes of stroke play for 60 men and 60 women — superstar Michelle Wie and champion Padraig Harrington urged their sport’s inclusion before the International Olympic Committee. But the vote covered only 2016 and 2020; another vote will be held next year to decide if it will be back in 2024.

Michael Phelps will swim for the USA for the last time

In his final Games, Phelps will become the first U.S. male swimmer to compete in five Olympics. The most decorated Olympic competitor ever, he has won 18 gold medals, plus two silver and two bronze.

His return follows his second drunk driving arrest two years ago and a stint in rehab. He was suspended for six months from USA Swimming but returned to the pool last spring.

FOLLOW THE CONVERSATION: #ROADTORIO & #100DAYSOUT

Bob Costas, who will serve as NBC Olympics’ primetime host for the 11th time this summer, will be in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Wednesday to join numerous NBCU programs, including TODAYNBC Nightly News with Lester HoltAccess Hollywood, NBCSN’s The Dan Patrick Show, Golf Channel’s Morning Drive and Golf Central, CNBC’s Squawk Box, and MSNBC programming. NBC’s 239 nationwide affiliates and the NBC Sports Regional Networks will also be provided with Costas-interview content.

NBCU will once again implement a primetime promotional “road block” across its 18 broadcast and cable networks, including Spanish-language channels Telemundo and NBCUniverso. Each of the 18 networks will run an Olympic promotional spot within the 8 p.m. hour. The daylong celebration will also permeate NBCU’s 40-plus websites; Universal Parks & Resorts in Hollywood, Calif., and Orlando, Fla.; and The Shop at NBC Studios in Rockefeller Plaza.

“The 100-day celebration is the symbolic start to our massive Olympic marketing campaign,” said John Miller, CMO, NBC Olympics. “NBCUniversal’s unprecedented collection of assets will allow us to generate billions of impressions before the Games begin on August 5. Wednesday’s 100-day symphonic celebration is emblematic of how the entire company can mobilize its resources in support of a key priority – in this case the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.”

NBCU is also collaborating with the U.S. Olympic Committee on its extensive 100-day celebration efforts. Nearly 100 Team USA athletes will take part in an Olympic Festival in Times Square, as the Road to Rio Tour presented by Liberty Mutual Insurance converges on New York City on Wednesday. Athletes will participate in a press conference, autograph sessions, sport demonstrations, and on-stage interviews between noon-8 p.m. ET, and will be joined by The Band Perry for a live concert. NBC News Channel will be on site all day to capture content for NBC’s 239 affiliates. The event is free and open to the public between 2-8 p.m. ET. Media interested in attending can visit www.TeamUSA.org/100DaysMedia for credential registration.

In addition, Team USA athletes and Olympic gold medalists Carl Lewis, Nastia Liukin and David Boudia will participate in the ceremonial lighting of the Empire State Building in red, white and blue to celebrate the 100 Day Countdown to the Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Throughout the day and in the weeks and months leading up to the Games, NBCU and the USOC will jointly use the hashtag #RoadtoRio across their respective platforms.

Here’s how NBC will be celebrating 100 Days Out:

TODAY: The popular morning news program will celebrate by transforming the plaza into a beach party, featuring a live concert from The Band Perry. Matt Lauer will talk exclusively to 22-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps. The celebration will also feature a parade of 40+ Olympians, including gold medal gymnast Gabby Douglas, world champion gymnast Simone Biles, Olympic gold medalist and track and field star Allyson Felix, and Olympic gold medal swimmer Ryan Lochte.

NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt: Bob Costas will report from Rio, providing a preview of the top American Olympians to watch. Costas will also examine the current challenges that Brazil faces as the country prepares for the Games.

Access Hollywood: Access Hollywood Live’s Billy Bush and Kit Hoover will have a special interview with Bob Costas from Rio, where he will reflect on past Games and preview Rio. Accessalso has exclusive interviews with top Team USA athletes, including gymnast Simone Biles, swimmer Dana Vollmer, track star Allyson Felix, and London Olympics superstar gymnast Gabby Douglas.

LXTV 1st Look: The program will air a “100 Days to Rio” episode in which former Olympians Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski provide viewers a “1st Look” at the city of Rio de Janeiro. Amazing eats, samba dancing, beautiful beaches, and the sights, sounds and colors of Carnival await viewers. 1st Look: 100 Days to Rio airs this week across NBC owned television stations and affiliates.

Golf Channel: With golf’s return to the Olympics after more than 100 years, the network will commemorate the 100-day celebration with news coverage across its platforms, including features and interviews on both of the network’s daily news shows, Morning Drive and Golf Central. The network will also debut golf analyst Frank Nobilo’s “Tee to Green” features about each hole of the new Olympic golf course in Rio. Golf Channel Digital will showcase its comprehensive Olympic golf coverage, including an updated analysis of both the men’s and women’s potential Olympic fields.

Telemundo and NBC UNIVERSO: The U.S. broadcast and cable homes of the Olympic Games in Spanish will commemorate “100 Days to Rio” with original programming, digital content and the roll-out of the second phase of their Olympic promotional campaign. The morning show Un Nuevo Día will simulcast from New York with NBC’s TODAY, followed by the news magazine Al Rojo Vivoand the newscast Noticiero Telemundo, which will present Olympic content. The late-night television show Titulares y Más will show a preview to Rio hosted by Andres Cantor. The Telemundo stations will air Destino Rio, a half-hour special with an exclusive look at the preparations for the Games. NBCDeportes.com and all Telemundo digital properties will amplify “100 days” coverage by featuring Olympic content, including a Facebook Live session with sportscasters Andrés Cantor, Sammy Sadovnik, René Giraldo, Edgar López and Miguel Gurwitz.

NBCOlympics.com: The refreshed site will pivot to its pre-Games iteration by providing Rio 2016 previews and updates as Team USA takes shape; the most up-to-date Olympic news; dedicated sections on each of the 34 Olympic-summer sports; look-back videos from London 2012; original video profiles of select athletes; and much more. The site now features a responsive design that improves the user experience across multiple devices.

The 2016 Rio Olympics begin Friday, August 5, on the networks of NBCUniversal.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s