The Rio Olympic Games countdown is on!

50 shades of Rio 2016: celebrating the diversity of the Olympic Games with 50 days to go

As athletes from 206 countries prepare to travel to Rio, IOC president Thomas Bach says: 'Brazil will send a message of unity, respect and tolerance to the world.'

They are coming from every corner of the world, from all ethnicities, all religions and all social backgrounds. In just 50 days' time, more than 10,000 athletes from 206 countries will begin competing in Rio de Janeiro for the biggest prize in sport – an Olympic medal.

The lucky few will go home clutching one or even more of the medals. But the Olympic Games is about more than podiums, medal ceremonies and national anthems. It is the world's single greatest celebration of human achievement and endeavour, of the diversity of our cultures and of the goals and dreams we all share.

Today, with 50 days to go, Rio 2016 celebrates the diversity of the thousands of athletes who will be sharing the athletes' village this August, from all the five continents represented by the Olympic rings, and including a special team of 10 stateless refugees.

image: A new world: with nearly every kind of skin colour, culture, religion and body type, the diversity of the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games lives up to the official slogan (Photo: Getty Images)