(Reuters) - The Rio de Janeiro Olympics kick off on Friday for some two weeks of competitive games drawing athletes as well as audiences from around the world.

As they prepare to cover the event, Reuters photographers look back on their favorite pictures from past Olympics where they captured the action on the ground as well as the participants' tears and joy that followed.

Some of the most memorable shots include an underwater picture of American Michael Phelps swimming the butterfly stroke during the Beijing 2008 Olympics and Britain's Louis Smith crying during the men's gymnastics qualification during the London 2012 Games.

One photo also shows Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt and Britain's distance runner Mo Farah celebrating together after receiving gold medals in London.

Click here for the photo essay: http://reut.rs/2apJGoG

(Writing By Marie-Louise Gumuchian Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)