Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Visualizing The Summer Olympics - Mapping The 2016 Rio Torch Relay

Source: Rio 2016 Olympics Wiki

On Friday, August 5, 2016, the eyes of the world will be fixated on Rio de Janeiro for the opening ceremonies of the Games of the XXXI Olympiad. The #RoadToRio has notoriously been potholed by damaging news stories about Zika mosquitos, water pollution, construction delays, financial collapse, and rampant crime. Still, the tenacity of the tireless athletes and the nobility of the Olympic quest will unite the globe for two weeks and will present terrific opportunities for visualizations and education.

Source: Rio 2016

The torch relay, in particular, inaugurates the Games as the flame travels from its Greek origins to then crisscross Brazil in an escalating parade of famous athletes and historic sites. Mapping this journey through graphics and animations offers valuable chances to learn about geography and culture.



The official Rio 2016 site offers dynamic options for tracking the path of the torch, via calendar photos, city routes, and regional celebrations. The video highlights include both an animated map of each destination and a behind-the-scenes tribute to the nation's citizens. Across 95 days, the torch will pass through 12,500 road miles, 10,000 air miles, and 12,000 people.

Source: Rio 2016

For better or worse, current events also feature prominently in the torch's travelogue (much like the 2014 Sochi controversies). At various stops, the Rio carriers have so far been attacked with a fire extinguisher, beset by an unruly jaguar, and accused of carrying a "cursed" flame.



In essence, the torch relay is a fitting cavalcade to the heroic spirit of the competition. It builds anticipation for the contests to come, and it shines a spotlight on the country's locales and heritage. It also welcomes the world into a terrain that may be unfamiliar. This widening of the learning lens is crucial in pushing students to look outside themselves. Sydney's 2000 triumph and Beijing's 2008 spectacle both prove the worth of these quadrennial jamborees.

For more ideas about exploring the Olympics or using the Games in education, check out:

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