Massachusetts Cheering for the Olympic Games

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Olympian Sean Furey of Metheun, Massachusetts  Photo Credit: AP/Matt Slocum

The Olympic Games have finally arrived.  Tonight, the opening ceremonies of the XXXI Olympiad take place in Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium.   Half a million spectators are in Brazil for the Games, and millions more are tuning in from all over the world, to cheer on their home-town athletes and to revel in the amazing talents of the world’s best athletes.

Massachusetts has good reason to cheer.  Twenty-two athletes with Massachusetts roots are competing this year, led by past Olympians and medal winners like gymnast Aly Raisman of Needham and marathon runner Shalane Flanagan of Marblehead.

Here are snapshots of 12 Massachusetts athletes to watch and a Boston Globe run-down of all of the New England athletes competing.

Massachusetts’ connection to the Olympics dates back to 1896, when the first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens, Greece. At that event, nine of the fourteen American athletes were from Boston, and 13 of the 20 medals awarded to the USA went to Boston athletes.  The following year, in 1897, the Boston Athletic Association launched the first amateur marathon race, which has since spawned hundreds of marathons across the world.

Also cheering from Massachusetts is the proud Brazilian-American community. An estimated 336,000 Brazilians live in Massachusetts, part of a 1.4 million population nationwide, according to The Boston Globe.

Massachusetts exports to Brazil totaled $285 million in 2015, according to the Mass Office of International Trade & Investment and the Massachusetts Export Center.  Leading exports included optic, photo, medic and surgical instruments; industrial machinery, plastics, pharmaceutical products and chemical goods.

Brazil is also the 23rd largest importer of Massachusetts goods, purchasing $144 million worth of goods in 2015.

In Boston, the Brazilian Consulate provides information on travel to Brazil, commerce opportunities, and visa services for Brazilian citizens.

The Brazilian Times, based in Somerville, covers the Brazilian community year round. And this year’s 21st annual Brazilian Independence Day Festival takes place in Boston on September 6-11, 2016.

For sports information year round, visit the Massachusetts Sports Marketing Office. To learn more about visiting Massachusetts, go to

Find out more about this year’s American team by visiting Team USA.  And for up-to-the-minute details on the world’s greatest sporting event, visit