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Enjoy the Olympics without Jetting Off to Rio | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A banner with the Olympic logo for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. AFP

New York-This summer, there will be more avenues than ever to follow the Olympic Games, thanks to a large number of apps devoted to the event.
Before the Games begin on Aug. 5, one handy way to keep up with Olympic news is the official Rio 2016 app (free on iOS, Android and Windows 10). The app centers on the Olympic torch relay, following the famous flame as it makes its way through Brazil and ultimately into the Olympic stadium.

With the Rio 2016 app, you can see past and current photos and videos of the various celebrations, view information and maps about the route, and more. There’s also official news from the International Olympic Committee about what’s happening as the Games approach, along with details on the various sports venues.

For a more in-depth look at Olympic news, including information about preparations by different nations and individual athletes, the official Olympics app from the International Olympic Committee (free on iOS and Android) is the place to go. This app gives you access to official news and articles, not just about the Rio games but also about Olympic Games dating back to 1896.

There are thousands of photos and many videos, plus useful tables of results and information about how the Games have evolved. The app could be a fascinating resource if you’re curious, or if you want to settle an argument with friends over who won which medal in what year.

While both official apps are free, they suffer from seemingly being designed by committee. They are bland in style and occasionally awkward to navigate, and the language is stilted. You also won’t find much mention of the controversy surrounding Brazil’s preparedness for holding the Games this year.

For a much more dynamic take on Olympic news, check out the NBC Olympics app, which is free on iOS and Android. This app has a more modern design and lots of high-quality videos. You can see content that’s trending, sort videos and articles by individual sports, browse information about the medals race, and more. As the Olympics begin, the app will most likely be even more useful as a news source, and you can set it to notify you of breaking events.

Though this app is more interesting than some rivals, it occasionally takes you to news pages on NBC’s website, which makes navigating back and forth through the articles in the app frustrating at times. On the plus side, this app is accessible to international users, and it can be configured to show news about different nations’ Olympic efforts if you prefer to gain a more global perspective of the Games.

By contrast, the NBC Sports live app (free on iOS, Android and Windows) requires you to have a cable subscription in the United States. Fortunately, the app is well designed, and when the Games begin, it is going to be one of the best places to watch them in real time, read news and catch up on previous events.

The app effectively turns your phone into an on-demand access portal for all Olympic-related news (and other sports events too, of course). NBC holds United States broadcasting rights to the Olympics, so it is one of the few official places you can see video of the Games.

ESPN is also going to have a great deal of Olympics coverage, and the ESPN app, which is free on iOS and Android, is even better designed than NBC’s. The app has sections for different sports, a podcast-listening mode, and videos, photos and text about breaking sports news. During the Olympics, this app will be another good place to stay up-to-date with Team U.S.A.

For a slightly different perspective on the news coming from Rio, I recommend the BBC Sport app (free on iOS and Android). While there is plenty of content here that is centered on Britain, there is also good coverage of international happenings before the Olympics start, and there will be more content when the Games get underway. This app won’t give you live video of the Games, because of international licensing issues, but if you’re searching for slightly calmer Olympic sports commentary, this app may be the one for you.

Finally, remember that after the traditional Olympic Games finish, the Paralympics begin in September. To keep your children interested in the Paralympics, check out the Tom’s Adventure app — a simple one-dimensional running game that features the Paralympics’ official mascot. It is also free on iOS and Android.

The New York Times