Here’s a daily look at potentially intriguing events (all times Eastern): Friday, Aug. 5 — Opening Ceremony The Olympics will open at the famed Maracanã, though preliminary soccer matches will be played the preceding two days, as has been the case since 2000. The Opening Ceremony will be highlighted by the Parade of Nations and cauldron lighting, the final torch bearer always a closely guarded secret. (Of note, the final torch bearer has actually been multiple people at the last three Olympics, so it will be interesting to see if Rio ends that streak.)
Saturday, Aug. 6 — Day 1 Gymnastics: Men’s qualification. Historically, the top eight nations qualify for the team final, the top 24 gymnasts competing on all six events make the all-around final (maximum two per country) and the top eight per event make each of the six apparatus finals (maximum two per country). The U.S. has qualified into the team final at the last four Olympics and put two men in the all-around final at the last three. Swimming (9 p.m.): The women’s 4x100m freestyle relay could be another U.S.-Australia duel. The Aussies broke the world record at last summer’s Commonwealth Games. Missy Franklin has been part of the American quartet at every major international meet since 2011. Sunday, Aug. 7 — Day 2 Gymnastics: Women’s qualification. Same as the men, it has historically been the top eight nations, top 24 all-around gymnasts and top eight per the four apparatuses. The U.S. always qualifies into the team and all-around finals. Swimming (9 p.m.): The men’s 4x100m freestyle relay has traditionally been a marquee event. Several teams could factor into the medals, including reigning Olympic champion France, World champion Australia, the U.S. and host nation Brazil. If Michael Phelps makes his fifth Olympic team, this figures to be his first day of competition. Katie Ledecky could go for her first individual gold of the Games in the 400m free (she’s the world record holder). Monday, Aug. 8 — Day 3 Gymnastics (3 p.m.): Men’s team final. China won the last two Olympics and the last six World Championships. Japan could be its biggest rival, while the U.S. looks to return to the podium after a disastrous fifth place at London 2012. Fencing (3 p.m.): Women’s saber medal rounds. American Mariel Zagunis took gold in 2004 and 2008 but tearfully dropped to fourth in 2012, after carrying the U.S. flag into the Opening Ceremony. Rugby (4:30 p.m.): Women’s medal matches. The first rugby medals since 1924 will be awarded, though this is the first time rugby sevens has been part of the Olympics. Swimming (9 p.m.): The 100m backstroke finals could include both defending U.S. Olympic champions Matt Grevers and Missy Franklin. The men’s 200m free final also takes place, an event Michael Phelps won in 2008 and Ryan Lochte won at the 2011 World Championships. Tuesday, Aug. 9 — Day 4
Gymnastics (3 p.m.): Women’s team final. The U.S. has never won back-to-back Olympic team golds, but it will be favored if the dominating performance at the 2014 World Championships is any indication. Expect the usual contenders to be in the medal mix — Russia, China, Romania. Swimming (9 p.m.): The women’s 200m free final could include Franklin and Ledecky, as it did at the 2014 U.S. Championships. Phelps and Lochte could be in the same race, too, on the U.S. team for the 4x200m free relay. Wednesday, Aug. 10 — Day 5 Gymnastics (3 p.m.): Men’s all-around final. Japan’s Kohei Uchimura could become the first man in 44 years to repeat. British, Chinese, German and American men could all factor into the medals. American Danell Leyva took bronze in 2012. Swimming (9 p.m.): The men’s 100m free final could see a rematch of 2012, when Nathan Adrian beat James Magnussen by .01. Brazilian sprinters may be boosted by the home crowd, too. The women’s 4x200m free relay could include Franklin and Ledecky. Thursday, Aug. 11 — Day 6 Judo (2:30 p.m.): Women’s 78kg medal rounds. In 2012, Kayla Harrison became the first U.S. Olympic judo champion. She’s since missed a year due to knee surgery and was beaten at the 2014 World Championships, by Brazilian rival Mayra Aguiar. Gymnastics (3 p.m.): Women’s all-around final. The U.S. could put two women on the podium, and as of today two-time reigning World champion Simone Biles is a heavy favorite. London all-around champ Gabby Douglas just started her comeback, as did fourth-place Aly Raisman. Again, Russia, China and Romania should field the biggest threats. Rugby (4:30 p.m.): Men’s medal matches. Watch out for Fiji, which has never won an Olympic medal in any sport but is ranked second in this season’s World Series. Swimming (9 p.m.): It could be a busy night for Lochte with the 200m back and 200m IM finals. He’s won medals in both events at the last two Olympics. Phelps could join him in the 200m IM final, looking for his fourth straight Olympic title in the event. Japan’s Kosuke Hagino, however, won the event over the Americans at the Pan Pacific Championships last August. The 100m free final could include Franklin, rising star Simone Manuel and the fast Aussies. Friday, Aug. 12 — Day 7 Shooting: Women’s skeet. In London, Kim Rhode became the first American to win individual medals in five straight Olympics. In 2014, another American, Brandy Drozd, won the World Championship and Rhode missed the podium. Swimming (9 p.m.): If Phelps makes it to Rio, his last individual Olympic swim could come in the 100m butterfly final. He’s won it at the last three Olympics. It could also be the final individual swims in Rio for Franklin (200m back) and Ledecky (800m free) in events they won in 2012.
Saturday, Aug. 13 — Day 8 Tennis: Women’s singles medal matches. Serena Williams took gold at Wimbledon in 2012. No singles player has ever repeated as Olympic champion. Rowing (7:50 a.m.): Women’s eight. The U.S. won gold at the last two Olympics and the 2014 World Championships. Track and Field (7 p.m.): The world’s fastest woman will be crowned in the 100m final (9:35). Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce took gold in 2008 and 2012. No woman has won the same individual Olympic track and field event three straight times. The U.S. could have medal threats in the men’s long jump and 10,000m (training partners Britain’s Mo Farah and American Galen Rupp went one-two in London). Great Britain currently has three medal contenders in the heptathlon that finishes up, including London champion Jessica Ennis-Hill, coming back from child-birth. Swimming (9 p.m.): The competition concludes with the shortest and longest events (women’s 50m free, men’s 1500m free) and both medley relays. The U.S. men have never lost the Olympic medley relay. Phelps and Franklin were part of the medley relays at London 2012. Sunday, Aug. 14 — Day 9 Tennis: Men’s singles final. Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray won the last two gold medals. That means an Olympic title is one of the glaring holes on the résumés of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. Golf (6:30 a.m.): Men’s final round. The first Olympic golf medals since 1904 will be awarded at the conclusion of the 72-hole stroke-play tournament. Gymnastics (1 p.m.): Apparatus finals include women’s vault, where McKayla Maroney‘s silver medal-winning facial expression went viral in 2012. Maroney hasn’t competed since October 2013, and no U.S. woman has made back-to-back Olympic gymnastics teams since 2000. Track and Field (7 p.m.): The world’s fastest man will be crowned in the 100m final (9:25). Usain Bolt could try to become the first Olympic men’s runner to win the same individual event three straight times. The last two Olympic 400m champions could also face off for gold — Grenada’s Kirani James and American LaShawn Merritt. Monday, Aug. 15 — Day 10 Gymnastics (1 p.m.): Apparatus finals include men’s still rings, which may include Brazil’s top gymnastics medal hope. Arthur Zanetti became the nation’s first Olympic gymnastics medalist in 2012, when he took rings gold. He followed that up with gold and silver at the 2013 and 2014 World Championships. Track and Field (7 p.m.): The men’s 800m final (9:25) and women’s 400m final (9:45) could include both 2012 Olympic champions — Kenya’s David Rudisha and the U.S.’ Sanya Richards-Ross. Both endured injuries in the year after London and may not enter Rio as favorites. Tuesday, Aug. 16 — Day 11 Gymnastics (1 p.m.): The artistic gymnastics competition concludes with three apparatus finals, including women’s floor exercise. Biles is the two-time reigning World champion in that event. Track and Field (7 p.m.): In the women’s 1500m (9:30), reigning Diamond League champ Jenny Simpson could break a 44-year U.S. gold-medal drought in track events longer than 400m. The 110m hurdles goes 15 minutes later. The reigning Olympic and World champions are Americans — Aries Merritt and David Oliver. The men’s high jump (7:30) was the most exciting event in 2014, with Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim and Ukraine’s Bohdan Bondarenko making attempts to break a 21-year-old world record.
Wednesday, Aug. 17 — Day 12 Track and Field (7 p.m.): Americans Brittney Reese and Allyson Felix are reigning Olympic champions in the long jump (8:15) and 200m (9:30). Felix is tied with Jackie Joyner-Kersee for the most Olympic track and field medals earned by a U.S. woman (six) and three behind the most won by any woman in the sport (Merlene Ottey, Jamaica). The 100m hurdles (9:55) could include the last two Olympic champions — Australian Sally Pearson and American Dawn Harper-Nelson. Beach Volleyball (9 p.m.): Women’s medal matches. The Copacabana Beach venue will be rocking if a Brazilian pair reaches the final. American Kerri Walsh Jennings eyes her fourth straight gold, this time with new partner April Ross replacing the retired Misty May-Treanor. Thursday, Aug. 18 — Day 13 Track and Field (6 p.m.): Bolt expects the 200m final (9:30) to be the last individual race of his Olympic career. The world’s greatest athlete will be crowned after the decathlon 1500m (8:45). American Ashton Eaton is the reigning Olympic and World champion and world record holder. Nobody has repeated as Olympic decathlon champ since Brit Daley Thompson in 1984. Beach Volleyball (9 p.m.): Men’s medal matches. Several teams are in the medal picture at this point, including 2008 Olympic champion Phil Dalhausser and two-time Olympian Sean Rosenthal of the U.S. and any pair put forth by Brazil. Friday, Aug. 19 — Day 14 Water Polo: Women’s final. The U.S. finally took gold in 2012 after silver in 2000, bronze in 2004 and silver in 2008. The Americans captured the 2014 FINA World Cup, led by FINA Player of the Year Maggie Steffens. Wrestling (3 p.m.): Men’s 74kg freestyle medal matches. American Jordan Burroughs won gold in 2012 and the World Championship in 2013 but, in 2014, lost for the first time since 2009 and settled for bronze at Worlds with an injury. Only two U.S. wrestlers have won gold medals in consecutive Olympics. Soccer (4:30 p.m.): Women’s final. The U.S. won gold at four of five Olympic tournaments since the introduction of women’s soccer in Atlanta 1996. The semifinals were most memorable in 2012, when the U.S. outlasted Canada 4-3 in extra time. Track and Field (7 p.m.): Bolt expects the 4x100m final (9:35) to be the last race of his Olympic career. His goal in Rio is sweep the 100m, 200m and 4x100m, which he did in 2008 and 2012. The women’s 4x100m (9:15) could be closer. The U.S. topped Jamaica at the London Games, but Jamaica returned the favor at the 2013 Worlds. Brazil’s best shot at a track and field medal may come with 2011 World champion Fabiana Murer in the pole vault (7:30). The last two Olympic champions — Jenn Suhr and Yelena Isinbayeva — may also be in the field.
Saturday, Aug. 20 — Day 15 Golf (6:30 a.m.): Women’s final round. The only other time women’s golf was part of the Olympics, the U.S. swept the medals in 1900. That’s quite unlikely in Rio, given South Korea’s dominance on the professional tours. Triathlon (10 a.m.): Women’s race. American Gwen Jorgensen is currently an overwhelming favorite, having won seven straight World Triathlon Series events. Triathlon has been part of the Olympic program since 2000, and the U.S. has collected one medal, a bronze in 2004. Basketball (2:30 p.m.): Women’s final. There’s no reason to believe the U.S., on a 41-game Olympic winning streak, won’t take a sixth straight gold. It’ll likely be a matchup with Australia, France or Spain. Diving (3:30 p.m.): Men’s platform final. The sport’s marquee event is the last of eight in the Olympic diving program. In 2012, American David Boudia won the first U.S. diving gold since 2000. As was the case four years ago, he’s currently looking up at Chinese divers in the run-up to the Olympics. Soccer (4:30 p.m.): Men’s final. Will Brazil, perhaps led by Neymar, make it to the gold-medal game at the Maracanã with a shot at winning its first Olympic men’s soccer title? Track and Field (7 p.m.): The last night of competition includes the 4x400m relays, where the U.S. is traditionally strong. However, the U.S. men were upset by the Bahamas at London 2012, and the U.S. women fell to Russia at the 2013 Worlds. The U.S. could earn more medals in the men’s 1500m (8 p.m.) and women’s 800m (8:15). Volleyball (9:15 p.m.): Women’s final. Brazil defeated the U.S. in the last two Olympic finals. But the Americans, now with Karch Kiraly coaching, swept Brazil in the 2014 World Championships semifinals en route to gold. Sunday, Aug. 21 — Day 16 Track and Field (8:30 a.m.): The men’s marathon takes to the Rio streets. Kenya is traditionally strong, but Ugandan Stephen Kiprotich pulled off the upset at London 2012. American Meb Keflezighi, the 2004 Olympic silver medalist, hopes to make the U.S. team and compete in Rio at age 41. Volleyball (12:15 p.m.): Men’s final. This is one of the most coveted gold medals for the host nation. Brazil won gold in 2004 and silver in 2008 (behind the U.S.) and 2012. Boxing (1 p.m.): Women’s middleweight final. Claressa Shields has not lost since she became the first U.S. Olympic women’s boxing champion at London 2012. Basketball (2:45 p.m.): Men’s final. The U.S. will go for its third straight gold and should be heavily favored. Spain took silver in 2008 and 2012 but lost in the 2014 World Cup quarterfinals to France. Closing Ceremony: The Olympic cauldron will be extinguished at the Maracanã and anticipation will grow for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games and 2020 Tokyo Olympics.