Number of Events: 47

Games History: Athletics has been included in every edition of the Olympic Games since it began in 1896. The men's programme has been intact since 1952, though events such as tug of war, cross country and two-handed shot put have been removed from the schedule. United States are the most successful nation in history, having won a huge 767 medals across Games history.

Rules: For track events between 100m and 400m, runners are randomly assigned lanes for the opening round before their qualifying times dictate where they start. The sport operates a first past the post system for all races both on track and road. Highest placed athletes in the preliminary rounds progress until the final where the top three finishers claim the medals. Relays see a baton exchanged between the four runners, who each run either 100m or 4000m until all members of the team have completed a leg.

Field events are judged purely on distance, either travelled by the athletes themselves in the case of high jump, long jump, triple jump or pole vault, or by a piece of apparatus including shot put, discus, javelin and hammer. Combined events sees athletes compete in a series of track and field events, [seven for the women-only heptathlon and 10 for the male exclusive decathlon] with points awarded depending on their performance.

Format: All track events bar the men's and women's 10,000m consist of at least one qualifying heat. Races between 100m and 400m have just eight runners, while 800m, 1500m, 3000m steeplechase, 5000m and 10,000m can have upwards of 12 athletes for the final.

Field events see finals contested between 12 athletes, with the field reduced after three attempts. The athletes with the furthest or highest attempt over the duration of the events wins.

Usain Bolt
Bolt will be bidding to overcome injury and take his place in Rio. Getty Images

Key terms

Blocks: The holding pen for athletes prior to races immediately starting.

Kick: A burst of speed from an athlete, often at the end of a long distance, which sees them pull away from their rivals.

False start: When an athlete springs out of the blocks [see above] before the starter's gun. The first offence acts as a warning to the whole field. A second sees the offender disqualified.

Athlete to watch: Usain Bolt (Jamaica) - A sport in a complete crisis will look to its poster boy for inspiration again. Labeled as the saviour of athletes after winning three world championship golds in Moscow, which included overhauling former cheat Justin Gatlin, was among the defining images of the sporting year of 2015.

Venue: Estádio Olímpico João Havelange - The home of Brazilian club Botafogo has been renovated, renamed and its capacity increased to 60,000 to host the blue-ribbon sport of the summer. Now named after Nilton Santos, [locally it is referred to as the Estadio Nilton Santos] one of the club's greatest ever defenders, it staged football matches during the 2007 Pan American Games, while Sir Paul McCartney and Justin Bieber have graced its stage in recent years.

Justin Bieber
The likes of Jessica Ennis-Hill and Mo Farah will share the stage which has previously been graced by Justin Bieber. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok


Friday 12 August

Morning - Men's discuss qualifying, 100m heptathlon, women's shot put qualifying, 800m round one, high jump heptathlon, women's 10,000m final, men's 20k race walk.

Evening - Women's 1500m round one, shot put heptathlon, women's hammer qualifying, men's 400m round one, men's long jump qualifying, women's shot put final, 200m heptathlon, women's 100m round one.

Saturday 13 August

Morning - Men's 100m pre-qualifying and round one, women's triple jump qualifying, women's 3000m steeplechase round one, men's discus round one, women's 400m round one, long jump heptathlon

Evening - Javelin heptathlon, men's pole vault qualifying, men's 400m semi-final, men's long jump final, women's 100m semi-final, men's 10,000m final, men's 800m semi-final, women's 100m final, 800m heptathlon.

Sunday 14 August

Morning - Women's marathon

Evening: Men's high jump, women's 400m semi-final, women's triple jump final, men's 100m semi-final, women's 1500m semi-final, men's 400m final, men's 100m final.

Mo Farah
Can Farah defend his double Olympic gold in Rio? Getty Images

Monday 15 August

Morning - Men's triple jump qualifying, women's 200m round one, men's 3000m steeplechase round one, men's 400m hurdles

Evening - Women's discus qualifying, men's pole vault final, men's 110m hurdles round one, women's 400m hurdles round one, men's 800m final, women's 400m final.

Tuesday 16 August

Morning - Women's 5000m round one, women's pole vault qualifying, men's triple jump final, men's 1500m round one, women's 110m hurdles, women's discus final, men's 200m round one.

Evening - Men's high jump final, women's javelin qualifying, men's 110m hurdles semi-final, women's long jump qualifying, women's 400m hurdles semi-final, men's 400m hurdles semi-final, women's 200m semi-final, women's 1500m final, men's 110m hurdles final.

Wednesday 17 August

Morning - 100m decathlon, men's hammer qualifying, men's 5000m round one, long jump decathlon, women's 800m round one, men's 3000m steeplechase final, shot put decathlon.

Evening - High jump decathlon, men's javelin, women's 100m hurdles semi-final, women's long jump final, 400m decathlon, men's 200m semi-final, women's 200m final, women's 100m hurdles final.

Valerie Adams
The long-unbeaten Valerie Adams will be hoping to maintain her impressive run in Rio. Getty Images

Thursday 18 August

Morning - 110m hurdles decathlon, men's shot put qualifying, women's high jump qualifying, discus decathlon, women's 4x100m relay round one, men's 4x100m relay round one, men's 400m hurdles final, pole vault decathlon.

Evening - Javelin decathlon, men's shot put final, men's 1500m semi-final, women's javelin final, women's 800m semi-final, 1500m decathlon, women's 400m hurdles final, men's 200m final

Friday 19 August

Morning - Men's 50km race walk, women's 20km race walk.

Evening - Women's pole vault final, women's 4x400m relay round one, men's hammer final, men's 4x400m relay, women's 5000m final, 4x100m relay final, men's 4x100m final.

Saturday 20 August

Evening - Women's high jump final, men's javelin final, men's 1500m final, women's 800m, men's 5000m final, women's 4x400m final, men's 4x400m final

Sunday 21 August

Morning - Men's marathon