In Depth

Olympics on TV: Clare Balding to host evening coverage

Presenter replaces Gary Lineker, but Rio time difference means big events will be screened in early hours

Clare Balding will be the face of Rio 2016 on British TV after she was handed the "BBC's starring role leading its Olympics coverage", reports The Times.

She will anchor the prime-time evening coverage of the Games on BBC1, with others hosting the early afternoon and late-night events, although many of the key athletics and swimming finals will be decided in the early hours of the morning as Rio is four hours behind the UK.

Gary Lineker had top billing during London 2012 while Balding presented the swimming. However, he will not be involved in the Rio coverage because his main role at the BBC is as a football presenter and the Premier League kicks off midway through the event. In 2012, the start of the season was delayed by a week in order to accommodate the Games, meaning there was no conflict.

"Balding will front the prime-time evening Olympics show alongside Mark Chapman, with Hazel Irvine the figurehead for the afternoon show and Gabby Logan leading the athletics coverage," says the paper.

"The presenters will have support from a host of former Olympians, including Sir Chris Hoy, Rebecca Adlington and Sir Steve Redgrave."

The news might be something of a blow for Lineker. He famously pledged to present the first Match of the Day of the new season in his underpants if Leicester City won the title. They did and any hopes he had of avoiding the forfeit by travelling to Rio have been dashed.

What time are the Olympics? Key dates and times for Rio 2016

22 July

The Rio Olympics begin on 5 August and sports fans in the UK will be able to follow the fortunes of stars including Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Bradley Wiggins and Usain Bolt on TV, radio and online.

But when will the action take place and when are the key dates for the diary?

Who is showing the Games?

The event will be covered by the BBC, which will provide comprehensive live coverage on two TV channels and the iPlayer, with more streams available on the website and on the red button. There will also be rolling coverage on the radio.

"BBC One and BBC Four will broadcast 550 hours of action alongside extensive coverage on BBC Radio 5 live and the BBC Sport website," says the corporation. "In a repeat of the 2012 digital offering, up to 24 HD streams will also deliver every moment to fans whenever they want, wherever they are across mobile, tablet, desktop, connected TV and gaming devices."

There will also be up to eight channels available via the red button for more action.

Who are the presenters?

The coverage will be led by Clare Balding on BBC One and Dan Walker on BBC Four. They will be joined by others including Hazel Irvine, Mark Chapman, Gabby Logan, Jason Mohammad and Ore Oduba, with the usual array of expert summarisers.

Among those on punditry duty will be Steve Redgrave, Chris Hoy, Michael Johnson, Denise Lewis, Clive Woodward, Victoria Pendleton, Beth Tweddle, Rebecca Adlington and Anthony Joshua.

What time is the action?

Rio is four hours behind the UK so the Games will begin at around 1pm UK time and continue through until 4am. That means 15 hours of coverage on BBCs One and Four.

"The morning BBC Breakfast slot will therefore become in effect an Olympics highlights show, picking up the major stories from the night before every morning from 6th to 21st August," says Radio Times. "In addition, at 9:15am BBC2 will broadcast a four-hour replay of the BBC1 coverage from the night before – although there will also be a ten-minute highlights package available via the BBC Sport website."

When does the Olympic coverage actually begin?

The action gets underway before the opening ceremony with coverage of the men and women's football's competition, which kicks off on Wednesday evening, and there will be more sports to choose from by Friday, with coverage of the equestrian and archery competitions that afternoon.

But the Games will not officially start until Friday night (or Saturday morning) and coverage of the opening ceremony begins at around 11.30pm.

When are the key dates?

Not everyone will be tuning in to watch Fiji play South Korea in the men's football or the qualification rounds of the men's pommel horse, but there are some events that are too big to miss.

Here are some of the key events (UK time):

Sat 6 August:

1.30pm - Men’s cycling road race featuring Chris Froome, Adam Yates and Geraint Thomas

Sun 7 August:

4.15pm - Women’s cycling road race with Lizzie Armitstead and Emma Pooley

Mon 8 August:

8.00pm - Men’s 10m synchro diving likely to feature Tom Daley and Dan Goodfellow

Wed 10 August:

Men and women's cycling time trials with Chris Froome and Emma Pooley

Thurs 11 August:

Men's golf competition begins

Fri 12 August:

1.35pm - Jessica Ennis begins the defence of her heptathlon title

8pm - Men's track cycling team pursuit final, with Bradley Wiggins leading the GB team

Sat 13 August:

From 8pm - Women’s keirin and women’s team pursuit likely to include Becky James and Laura Trott

Sun 14 August:

12.50am - Men's long jump final with Greg Rutherford

1.55am - Men's 10k final with Mo Farah

2.45am - Heptathlon finishes

4pm - Andy Murray will be hoping to contest the men's tennis final

Mon 15 August:

2.25am - Usain Bolt should be competing in the men's 100m final

8pm - Men's omnium final featuring Mark Cavendish

Tue 16 August:

2.25am - David Rudisha will defend his title in the men's 800m final

2.45am - Christine Ohuruogu should feature in the women's 400m final

Thurs 18 August:

3pm - Men's triathlon with Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee

Fri 19 August:

2.30am - Usain Bolt is expected to run in the men's 200m final

Sat 20 August:

2.35am - Men's 4x100m relay could include Great Britain and Usain Bolt's Jamaica

Sun 21 August:

1.30am - Men's 5,000m final featuring Mo Farah

11.15pm - Closing ceremony


Mo Farah reveals ‘astonishing truth’ about his real name
Mo Farah at the London Olympics in 2012
Speed Reads

Mo Farah reveals ‘astonishing truth’ about his real name

Chris Mason: who is the BBC’s new political editor?
New BBC political editor Chris Mason

Chris Mason: who is the BBC’s new political editor?

Deborah James: tireless cancer campaigner dies aged 40
Deborah James

Deborah James: tireless cancer campaigner dies aged 40

Uncovering decades of ‘systemic’ abuse within British Gymnastics
A British gymnast's feet
In Focus

Uncovering decades of ‘systemic’ abuse within British Gymnastics

Popular articles

Why The Satanic Verses is still controversial
Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses
Getting to grips with . . .

Why The Satanic Verses is still controversial

Is World War Three on the cards?
Ukrainian soldiers patrol on the frontline in Zolote, Ukraine
In Depth

Is World War Three on the cards?

Will China invade Taiwan?
Chinese troops on mobile rocket launchers during a parade in Beijing
Fact file

Will China invade Taiwan?

The Week Footer Banner