Rio Olympics 2016: Must watch events on opening weekend and when to watch them - featuring British hopes Chris Froome and Lizzie Armistead as well as Olympic legend Michael Phelps

Joe Hall
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Olympics - Previews - Day -2
Good to go: Rio has finished final preparations for the now it's time to start planning your TV watching (Source: Getty)

Set your alarms, make your excuses and say any necessary good byes. Because the Olympics are here, and you have weeks of solid sport to gorge over.

Here's what not to miss on opening weekend:

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Friday is all about the Opening Ceremony at the Maracana Stadium where Andy Murray, fresh from victory at Wimbledon, will be flag bearer for Team GB.

Details of the curtain raising event are kept closely under wraps so whether Rio’s ceremony will be an excitement-building extravaganza or interminably long procession is still anyone’s guess.

What is known is that film director Fernando Meirelles, who has a substantially smaller budget to play with than Danny Boyle was afforded for London’s offering four years ago, will use 3D technology as well as the customary hordes of dancers in his production.


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Team GB could have its first gold medals by Saturday evening with Chris Froome among the contenders in the men’s road race which starts at 1.30pm BST. Three testing climbs on the route will suit the Tour de France champion’s talents but he will face stiff competition from the likes of Vincenzo Nibali and Wout Poels.

Gold is not out of the question for British commonwealth champion Ashley McKenzie in the men’s -60kg judo which gets going at 2pm and wraps up at 9.25pm.

Other British hopes in action on Saturday include James Guy in the pool. The 20-year-old competing in the 400m freestyle heats from 5.45pm won silver at last year’s World Championships but 2012 winner and Chinese swimming supremo Sun Yang stands in his way.

At 7pm, Brits Adam Peaty and Ross Murdoch will get their campaigns for gold underway in the 100m breaststroke heats.

Rugby Sevens kicks off for the first time in Olympic history at 3pm, with Great Britain taking on home nation Brazil an hour later. The men’s gymnastics team then get their Olympics going at 6.30pm while the men’s hockey squad take on Belgium at 4.30pm.

Finally, night owls can catch some of the best basketball players in the world when Team USA’s collection of NBA superstars take on basketball-mad China in their opening game.

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British medals are again a real possibility on Sunday when Olympic giant Michael Phelps dives into the pool for the first time.

Phelps will be looking to add his haul of 18 gold medals in the men’s 4x100m relay, with heats at 7.03pm. If you don’t mind a groggy morning, American Katie Ledecky, who has won nine world titles since winning gold in the 800m free in 2012, jumps in for the same event at around 3.00am on Monday morning.

If you stay up for that, you’ll be able to catch Peaty and Murdoch, both of whom are expected to be involved in the 100m breaststroke final at 2.53am.

At a more hospitable time of 4.20pm is Lizzie Armistead’s bid for gold in the women’s road race — a controversial contest following her successfully-overturned ban for infringing anti-doping rules.

The beginning of the race could clash with the men’s coxless four in rowing, an event that has been kind to Brits in recent years, which is scheduled for a 4.00pm start.

Men’s fencing will also be worth keeping an eye on. Team GB’s James Davis and Richard Kruse are ranked No5 and No6 in the world respectively so can’t be ruled out of a podium finish. The quarter-finals begin at 5.45pm.

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