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In the opening ceremony of Rio's Olympic Games, Brazil's favelas, or shantytowns, were showcased as the birthplace of a lot of Brazil's culture.

That was showbiz. In three of the most iconic communities, the reality of how these Olympics are affecting favela residents is more complicated.

Brazil is one of the most unequal countries in the world. In Rio, at least 25 percent of the population lives in impoverished communities.

Take Santa Marta. Perched above Rio's expensive South Zone, it's the city's most internationally famous favela.

They come from Syria, South Sudan, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Ten athletes who are refugees are competing on the first-ever Refugee Olympic Team at the Rio Games. They are representing the estimated 65 million people around the world who have been driven from their homes.

Katie Ledecky won a gold medal in the women's 200-meter freestyle at the Summer Olympics on Tuesday, in a race that was close — but not as close as the one Michael Phelps swam in the 200-meter butterfly to win his 20th gold medal.

Both of the American swimmers came away from those races with their second gold medals from the Rio Games. Phelps later added a third, as part of the men's 4x200 freestyle relay, giving him 25 Olympic medals.

Simone Biles led the way for a talented American women's gymnastics squad that delivered on massive expectations Tuesday, winning gold in the team competition of the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. It was the team's second consecutive Olympic gold, setting a new standard in gymnastics.

This win was never in doubt: The 8-point gap between the U.S. and second-place Russia was the largest since 1960, when the Soviet Union defeated Czechoslovakia by 8.997 points in Rome.

It was just a few months ago that a San Francisco fashion show producer told a Brazilian fashion show producer to check out some colorful dresses made in an unlikely place: New Hampshire. That’s when Laura McCarthy and collaborator Harry Umen got the invitation to show their new collection on the Teatro Fashion Mall runway in Rio on Day Four of the Summer Olympics.

Lately, McCarthy says, she’s been pulling 12-hour days.

“This whole week has been stressful because I’ve been sewing non-stop,” McCarthy says, “and I’m really ready to stop and just get on the plane and go.”

Brazil won its first gold medal today in this Olympics, when judoka Rafaela Silva defeated Sumiya Dorjsuren of Mongolia in the women's 57 kg.

Judo has a big following in Brazil, and that enthusiasm followed Silva from one match to the next. Silva grew up about 5 miles from where the competition took place today, and her fans packed the stands.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The meeting was highly anticipated, and it didn't disappoint — particularly from Lilly King's point of view. One day after King spoke bluntly about rival Yuliya Efimova's doping offenses, she beat Efimova to win a gold medal in the women's 100-meter breaststroke at Rio's Summer Olympics.

"I'm proud to be competing clean and doing what is right," King said after the race. "But I need to respect the IOC's decision" — referring to the announcement over the weekend that Efimova would be allowed to compete.

Click photos for slideshow.

U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps added to his Olympic record, winning a 19th gold medal on Sunday night, while American Katie Ledecky smashed her own world mark in the 400-meter freestyle at the Summer Games.

In his first race in Rio, Phelps swam a powerful second leg in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay. His 47.12 split gave the Americans a clear lead, which they held for a narrow win over France.

Now in his fifth Olympics, Phelps has won 23 medals overall and still has a shot at more.

Russia's entire Paralympic team is banned from next month's Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro as part of the same doping scandal that also cost Russia a large part of its Olympic team.

"The anti-doping system in Russia is broken, corrupted and entirely compromised," Sir Philip Craven, president of the International Paralympic Committee, told a news conference in Rio on Sunday.

In scathing language, Craven went on to say:

It was a match that lived up to its billing: the U.S., the world's top-ranked women's soccer team, taking on No. 3 France in a close contest that saw stellar play from both goalkeepers and ended with a 1-0 American victory.

The tense tone was set in the first minutes, with both offenses putting the ball into the penalty area for scoring chances – and both defenses quickly defusing those threats. That pattern held for all of the first half, and for part of the second.

Nearly one-third of Russia's Olympic team has already been barred from the Rio Olympics as part of a major doping scandal. Now, an announcement is expected Sunday on whether the country's Paralympic team will be allowed to compete.

Ginny Thrasher, a 19-year old from West Virginia University, took the first of the more than 300 gold medals that will be awarded at the Olympics in Brazil, winning the 10-meter air rifle on Saturday.

Thrasher, the youngest of the 15 members of the U.S. rifle team, bested a field of 50 competitors, comfortably winning the final duel with China's Du Li, who won gold medals at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Even if fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad doesn't medal at the Rio Olympics, she is set to make the history books.

Once she hits the fencing strip for her first bout in the women's individual sabre competition on Aug. 8, she will become the first U.S. Olympic athlete to compete while wearing a hijab.

Two of Brazil's greatest strengths — its dazzling culture and its flair for spectacle — will power the Opening Ceremony of the Summer Olympics on Friday night. Organizers will unleash samba drums, singers and dancers in a show designed to thrill a global audience and silence the criticism surrounding the preparations.

David Merrett / Creative Commons

Connecticut native Devin McEwan will follow in his father’s footsteps when he competes in this year's Olympic Games in Rio. His father, Jamie McEwan, was a two-time Olympian who competed as an American slalom canoeist in 1972 and 1992.

Olympic fans, prepare to watch hookers in a scrum who hope not to end up in the sin bin.

The lexicon of rugby, and the men's game itself, return to Olympic competition after a 92-year absence. The return in Rio also involves a couple of debuts: It's the first Olympic appearance for women in the sport, and a first for Rugby Sevens. It's a seven-on-seven game. Traditional rugby has 13 or 15 a side.

American women were not exactly a powerhouse at the 1972 Summer Olympics: They won just 23 medals, compared with 71 for the U.S. men. The women were absent from the medal podium in gymnastics. They didn't win a single gold in track and field, managing just one silver and two bronze.

But something else happened that year. The U.S. Congress passed Title IX, which bars sex discrimination in education programs receiving federal money. Sports wasn't the focus of Title IX. In fact, quite the opposite.

When Haley Anderson competes at the Rio Olympics on Aug. 15, she'll be racing for about two hours in open water off Copacabana Beach. The marathon swim is not for the faint of heart. It's 10 kilometers, or 6.2 miles.

What does it take? "A certain kind of crazy," Anderson said with a grin. "You have to be a little weird to wanna put yourself through two hours or more of pain."

Carli Lloyd scored her 89th international goal and the U.S. women held off New Zealand on Wednesday, winning a physical game 2-0 to kick off the Americans' bid to win a fourth consecutive gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Rio.

The versatile Tobin Heath assisted on Lloyd's goal, sending a perfect crossing pass that Lloyd headed past New Zealand goalkeeper early in the first half.

Steve Elliott from UK / Creative Commons

The Olympics get underway on Friday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It will be a first for rower Austin Hack of Old Lyme, Connecticut. 

Frank Cordeira / Flickr

From Brazil's political unrest to its water pollution to the viral pandemic plaguing its streets, this year's Olympics in Rio De Janeiro are off to a rough start -- and they haven't even begun yet!

Christian Haugen / Creative Commons

The Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil kick off on Friday, and here in Connecticut, our state’s large Brazilian community will be watching far from home. This hour, we learn more about why so many Brazilians come to the Nutmeg State and why it’s hard to say exactly how many Brazilians live here.

Sam Wolff / Creative Commons

The normally complicated topic of international relations has lately been highlighted in a different lens: sports! This hour, we look at Russia's relationship with the world in the midst of a massive doping scandal, the political backdrop of last month's Euro Cup, and the upcoming Olympics in Brazil. 

China’s Olympic swim team is training for the upcoming Rio 2016 Summer Olympics in a facility in Norwalk, Connecticut, called Swim Seventy.

With his wife expecting a baby in October, American road racer Tejay van Garderen has withdrawn from consideration for the Rio Summer Olympics, citing the Zika virus that's been linked to birth defects.

From a statement released by USA Cycling on van Garderen's behalf today:

Amir Attaran, a professor in the School of Public Health and the School of Law at the University of Ottawa, isn't afraid to take a bold stand.

He has written a commentary for the Harvard Public Health Review, published this week, with the headline, "Why Public Health Concerns for Global Spread of Zika Virus Means that Rio de Janeiro's 2016 Olympic Games Must Not Proceed."

When the Olympics kick off in Rio de Janeiro this August, thousands of athletes will put years of training to use in hopes of bringing home a medal. Now, due to an issue brought into the limelight by former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner, a change in Olympic legislation will diversify the field of competitors even more.

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