As 2016 draws to a close, we look at one of the institutions that benefits from an international and universal measurement system – the Olympic Games.
Rio 2016 consisted of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. It took place between 5 August and 21 August in thirty-two venues in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. The football events took place in Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Manaus, Salvador and São Paulo. Around ten thousand athletes competed in Rio, and, according to the official Rio 2016 website, the Games comprised 42 sports, 306 events, 37 venues and 206 countries. The Paralympic Games comprised 23 sports, 528 events, 21 venues and 176 countries.
Nearly all the sports in Rio 2016 depend on accurate measurements and would not be possible without them. These measurements are described here, based on information from the official Rio 2016 website.
The Rio 2016 website tells visitors the following interesting facts about archery:
- The distance between the archer and the target is 70 metres.
- In the air, the arrow can travel at more than 240 km/h.
There were 24 track events in total. They varied in distance between 100 m and 10 000 m. The men’s and women’s track races with no obstacles comprised distances of 100 m, 200 m, 400 m, 800 m, 1500 m, 5000 m and 10 000 m. Races with obstacles comprised the men’s 110 m hurdles, the women’s 100 m hurdles, men’s 400 m hurdles and women’s 400 m hurdles, men’s 3000 m steeplechase and women’s 3000 m steeplechase. Separate relay races for men and women included the 4 x 100 m relay and the 4 x 400 m relay. There was an Athletics Marathon over a distance of more than 42 km and three Athletics Race Walk events, which were the men’s 20 km and 50 km race walks and the women’s 20 km race walk.
In addition to all the athletics events with distance measurements in their titles, there were also the following men’s and women’s events:
- High jump
- Pole vault
- Long jump
- Triple jump
- Discus throw
- Hammer throw
- Javelin throw
- Shot put
There was also the men’s decathlon and the women’s heptathlon events. All measurements for these athletics events were expressed exclusively in metric (either in metres or, perhaps, a combination of metres and centimetres), the international measurement language understood throughout the world.
A series of canoe single, canoe double, kayak single, kayak double and kayak four events took place at Rio 2016. These events involved distances ranging from 200 m to 1000 m. Like all track races, all kayaking events involve distance measurements. There can be no race without them!
All the diving events involve the 3 metre springboard or the 10 metre platform. The springboard and platform measurements feature the all titles for the diving events. One may not think that there are any measurements in diving but the fact that springboard and platform lengths are included in the event titles show that there are. Divers are judged on the beauty and accuracy of their dives rather than how long or deep their dives are.
Like archery, shooting events also define the distance between the shooters and the target. For shooting events, these distances are 10 metres, 25 metres or 50 metres.
Freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, medley, medley relay and freestyle relay events all involve distances expressed in metres. The swimming events tend to use the same distances as athletics events up to a distance of 1500 m. The men’s and women’s relay events were 4 x 100 m and 4 x 200 m. There was also a men’s 10 km marathon swimming event and a women’s 10 km marathon swimming event.
There were eight taekwondo events, four for men and four for women, involving different weight categories. The weight categories for men differ from those for women. The men’s weight categories are under 58 kg, under 68 kg, under 80 kg and over 80 kg. The women’s weight categories are under 49 kg, under 57 kg, under 67 kg and over 67 kg. These weight categories are all defined in kilograms.
The weightlifting events comprised 15 body weight categories, 8 for men and 7 for women. They are all given in kilograms. The weights are also given in kilograms.
There were freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling events. In Greco-Roman wrestling, there are 2 rounds of 3 minutes each, inside a circular area with a diameter of 9 metres. There are only men’s Greco-Roman wrestling events in six weight categories, which are 59 kg, 69 kg, 75 kg, 85 kg, 98 kg and 130 kg. The freestyle wrestling events comprise 12 body weight categories, 6 for men and 6 for women, all expressed in kilograms.
The Rio 2016 website also supplied measurements for some of the buildings where the events will take place:
- Carioca Arena 1: Size = 38 000 square metres
- Riocentro – Pavilion 2: Size = 1500 square metres
- Riocentro – Pavilion 3: Size = 23 000 square metres
- Riocentro – Pavilion 4: Size = 23 000 square metres. This pavilion had a floor-to-ceiling height of 12 metres.
- Riocentro – Pavilion 6: Size = 7500 square metres
- Whitewater Stadium: The facilities in this stadium contained 25 million litres of water. Its canoe slalom course for competitions was 250 metres long and its canoe slalom course for training 200 metres long.
- Olympic BMX Centre: Size = approximately 4000 square metres. Its dirt track was about 400 metres long.
- Mountain Bike Centre: This centre had a 5400 metre long track.
- Olympic Equestrian Centre: Size = one million square metres
No medieval measurement to be seen anywhere! Even the road signs directing British and US athletes to the Games were in metric – it appears ARM’s remit does not extend to South America.
One thing that our politicians can learn from Rio 2016 is that the UK does not need more than one measurement system. Instead of leaving us with the measurement muddle they have created, why can’t politicians make the case for completing the transition to a single, simple, logical and universal measurement system? If the Republic of Ireland and most of Commonwealth countries succeeded, then why can’t we? Over to you, Mrs May.
You can find the official Rio 2016 website at https://www.rio2016.com/en.