Rio to Feature Most-ever Female Olympians

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May 2, 2016

The first modern Olympics Games, in Athens in 1896, featured only male athletes. At the next Olympiad, in Paris in 1900, women took part, in golf and tennis only; in that year, 975 men participated and 22 women participated.

Through the years since then, women have taken part in more and more sports, in greater and greater numbers. The numbers fluctuated until 1960, after which (excepting the 1980 Olympics, which featured a boycott by several nations) the number rose ever upward.

Officials from the 2016 Olympic Games, in Rio de Janeiro, said that of the 12,000 athletes expected to compete, 4,700 would be women. That would be the highest ever percentage of female athletes, topping by a small amount the 44 percent seen in 2012.

The 1904 St. Louis Games added archery for women. Eight years later, in Stockholm, women could enter Aquatics events. Female fencers first featured in 1924, in Paris. Four years after that, in Amsterdam, came female Olympic athletes in Athletics and Gymnastics.

In London in 1948, women first competed in canoeing and kayaking. The first female Equestrian athletes competed in Helsinki in 1952. The 1964 Summer Games, in Tokyo, added volleyball to the list of sports in which women could participate. After a 12-year gap, the International Olympic Committee added, in Montreal in 1976, three more sports: Basketball, Handball, and Rowing.

At the 1984 Olympics, in Los Angeles, women first completed in Cycling and Shooting. Table Tennis and Sailing were added to the women’s list in 1988, in Seoul. The Barcelona Olympic Games, in 1992, were the first to feature female athletes in Badminton and Judo. Four years later, in Atlanta, women first competed in Soccer and Softball. The 2000 Summer Olympics, in Sydney, featured female athletes in Modern Taekwondo, Pentathlon, Triathlon, and Weightlifting. Wrestling was first a women’s sport at the Athens Olympics in 2004. The London Olympics, in 2012, was the first to feature women competing in Boxing. And, Rio will be the first to showcase women competing in Rugby.

The 2012 Summer Olympics, in London, was the first Games to feature women in all sports on offer.

The Closing Ceremonies will be on August 21. In between, 306 events encompassing 41 disciplines and 28 sports will take place.

The city of Rio de Janeiro will have 35 competition venues. Most events will take place in Barra da Tijuca. Other neighborhoods hosting events will be Copacabana and Deodoro.

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