Rio 2016: Time to get the party started

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Rio has a proud reputation for being one of the most vibrant party cities in the world and the time has come for the Olympic athletes to strut their stuff on the big stage.

Home to the biggest, most spectacular carnival on the planet, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) needs Rio to deliver a sporting extravaganza to match after such a negative build-up to the Games of the XXXI Olympiad.

Just four days before the opening ceremony, various Russian competitors are still waiting to discover if they will be given the green light to participate, in light of a doping scandal that has rocked sport.

There will definitely be no track and field athletes representing Russia and the IOC has set up a three-person panel to have the final say on which men and women can compete for the nation in other sports less than a week before the start of the Games.

Concerns over whether facilities will be ready in time and high-profile athletes opting against travelling to the South American country due to the threat of the Zika virus have long since prompted questions over the choice of Rio as host nation.

So it will be a welcome relief to see some of the most famous athletes on the planet attempt to go down in the history books over 19 days of competition.

"There are some last-minute challenges, but our Brazilian friends are addressing them," IOC president Thomas Bach said after arriving in Rio.

"It is all coming together. We are looking forward to great Games. We are more confident than ever that we will have great Olympic Games in Rio."

When the Olympic flame is lit in the Maracana Stadium on Friday it is hoped less will be heard of Bach and other sporting administrators.

The talk should shift to the athletes from far and wide that will compete in 42 sports, from superstars such as Usain Bolt to relative unknowns striving to make a name for themselves.

For the first time a team of 10 refugees will showcase their talents in the Games, marching proudly behind the Olympic flag in the opening ceremony.

The likes of Brazilian trap shooter Janice Teixeira should inspire onlookers from all over the world when she makes her Olympic debut at the age of 54 after recovering from a stroke.

And the same goes for Prakash Nanjappa, who will shoot for India three years after doctors told him that his career was over due to "a type of stroke or paralytic attack" he suffered at a World Cup event in Spain, leaving him with a type of paralysis known as Bell's palsy.

Egyptian gymnast Sherine Elzeiny was left temporarily blind in one eye a week before the World Championships in Glasgow last year and revealed she could see three beams and "didn't know which one to choose" when she competed in Scotland.

Elzeiny now has 90 per cent vision in her left eye and has shown great character to earn her place in the Rio Games. 

The build-up to the Olympics has undeniably been tarnished, but what better place than Rio to lift the gloom. Let's get the party started.