We’re just days away from the opening ceremonies of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. While there has been plenty of controversy to start – problems in the Olympic village, an athlete getting robbed and dangerous levels of sewage in waterways – the hope is that things go off without a hitch.
From a spectator and betting perspective, it should be a lot of fun. Basketball, soccer, tennis and now golf will be on the menu, as well as a whole host of the usual competitions. The Americans are at -550 to win the most gold medals in Rio and much of that has to do with the fact that parts of the Russian team have been banned due to their doping scandal. China (+350) and Great Britain (+2000) are expected to be the United States’ top competition for gold medals. The Americans are expected to dominate this competition as their medal total is set at 103.5.
A lot of people are looking forward to watching the golf, which returns to the Olympics for the first time since 1904. The odds aren’t posted just yet but keep in mind that we won’t see a number of the biggest names in the world. Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott and a total of 11 of the world’s Top 50 male golfers won’t be there.
As usual, bettors will keep a close eye on basketball on both the men’s and women’s side. The American women are a -1200 favorite and should cruise to another gold, and even though the men are without LeBron James, Steph Curry, James Harden and Russell Westbrook, they’re still expected to roll to another gold as well. The men are at -1600 and while Spain (+1000) and France (+1400) should give them a little bit of a test, both of those teams will be led by past-their-prime players like Pau Gasol, Jose Calderon, Tony Parker and Boris Diaw.
The 100 meter race is one of the signature events of the Olympics and Jamaica’s Usain Bolt (-200) is again favored to win. The world’s fastest man earned three gold medals in the 2012 Games in London with the 100 metres, 200 metres and 4×100 metres relay. His 9.63 in the 100 meters was one of the viral moments of 2012 as it was an Olympic record. The issue for Bolt is he suffered a Grade I hamstring tear during the Jamaican Olympic trials in early July and that could play a factor. He’s had plenty of time to heal but Justin Gatlin (+165) – who has vowed to beat Bolt – ran a 9.80 in the U.S. trials on July 3.
On the soccer pitch, the American women are favored to win at +130. That’s not a huge surprise considering they’ve won gold at this event three straight times and four of the only five times it’s been run (they earned silver in 2000). Germany (+350), Brazil (+600) and France (+600) are supposed to give them a push. On the men’s side, Brazil is favored (-115) but keep in mind that they’ve never won gold in soccer at the Olympics – as odd as that sounds. Mexico is the defending champs but they’re at +1600. Argentina (+550), Germany (+600) and Portugal (+1000) all have better odds.
In the pool, all eyes will be on Michael Phelps, who is the most decorated Olympian of all time. He’s won 22 medals over three Olympics and is favored to win three more. He’s currently favored in the 100 meter Butterfly (EVEN), the 200 meter Butterfly (+130) and the 200 meter Individual Medley (-110).
The opening ceremonies for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio will take place at Maracana Stadium on Friday, August 5.