AP Style

AP Stylebook rules for 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics coverage

The 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro will be held Aug. 5-21 and mark the first time the international sporting competition will be held in South America.

There has been a significant amount of coverage of the various controversies that have come up surrounding the games, from concerns over the host city’s preparedness, to public health worries related to Zika, to athletes being banned from participating due to alleged doping, but less focus on the actual events themselves.

While we’ve already covered some of AP’s general rules related to Olympics coverages, we wanted to further discuss some specific terms and rules related to the 2016 Games.

Rio de Janeiro, Rio

  • Rio is acceptable as a first reference for the city in stories about the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics as long as you use the full name, Rio de Janeiro, somewhere in the story, preferably high up. Rio is also acceptable in headlines.
  • The dateline should always be the full name of the city. Examples: Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro Olympics, Rio de Janeiro Games.
  • For venues outside Rio, Sao Paulo stands alone in datelines while Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Brasilia and Manaus require country identification. Example: MANAUS, Brazil.
  • Do not use any diacritical or accent marks in English language stories.

Sports versus disciplines

  • Officially, there are 28 sports and 42 disciplines.
  • The International Olympic Committee defines sports by the international federations that govern them: swimming, diving, synchronized swimming, open water swimming and water polo are considered disciplines that all fall under the sport of swimming.
  • Distinctions should be noted if quantifying the number of Olympic sports in a story, but you should not worry about the official definitions in other uses: it’s OK to describe water polo and diving as different sports.


  • Vinicius is the official Olympics mascot
  • Tom is the official Paralympics mascot

Reals Preferred term for the plural form of Brazil’s currency, the real. Do not use “reais.”

  • Use currency conversions the first time the currency is mentioned to make clear for readers how a number translates to dollars. Avoid converting amounts that are not current due to change in exchange. If necessary for clarity, specify that the conversion is at current exchange rates.
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