RIO DE JANEIRO — The IOC approved the entry of 271 Russian athletes for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics on Thursday, meaning 70 percent of the country’s original team will compete in the games after the scandal over state-sponsored doping.

Also Thursday, the IOC’s rule barring Russian athletes with prior doping sanctions from competing in the games was rejected as “unenforceable” by an Olympic sports arbitration panel.

The IOC recently rejected calls from anti-doping organizations to ban Russia’s entire team following a report by a World Anti-Doping Agency investigator that detailed evidence of state-directed doping and cover-ups.

Instead the IOC asked international federations to examine each individual Russian athlete to determine if they should be eligible to compete. The IOC set up a panel of three executive board members to make the final call, taking into account the advice of an independent sports arbitrator.

Russia’s track and field team remains barred following an earlier decision by the IAAF, the sport’s governing body.

PRE-OLYMPICS MEDIA reports about the Zika virus, polluted water and political unrest in Brazil raised awareness about the Games and helped NBC’s advertising sales, network executives said.

“The numbers reflect that,” said the NBC Sports advertising head, Seth Winters. “Advertisers are exceptionally bullish on these games.”

NOVAK DJOKOVIC will face the 2009 U.S. Open champion, Juan Martin del Potro, in the first round of the Olympics in a rematch of the 2012 bronze medal match.

In the women’s draw, top-ranked Serena Williams, the reigning gold medalist, could face her older sister, Venus, in the semifinals. Also on her half of the draw is Garbine Muguruza of Spain, who beat Serena Williams in this year’s French Open final. And a potential quarterfinal opponent is Roberta Vinci of Italy, who stunned Williams in last year’s U.S. Open semifinals to end Williams’ Grand Slam bid.

A $3 BILLION subway expansion built as one of the main Olympic legacy projects for Rio de Janeiro was overbilled by 25 percent, a report said.

The financially battered government also ended up paying twice as much of what was agreed to in a partnership with private companies, according to a state auditor’s document in O Globo newspaper.

THE NIGERIAN men’s soccer team had its trip to the Rio Olympics delayed by a mix-up at the airport, forcing the players to make a last-minute flight from Atlanta to Brazil just hours before its opening match in the games.

The team boarded a Delta Air Lines jet from Atlanta and arrived in the jungle city of Manaus about six hours before its game against Japan.

GUNMEN NEAR a Rio slum waylaid three Swedish tourists and held one temporarily captive in the latest report of crime spilling over to target visitors in Rio for the Olympics, police said.

None of the Swedes were hurt, but the incident late Wednesday pointed to wider safety worries during the Rio games, with rising crime in many neighborhoods amid a steep economic recession.

ANDY MURRAY called being chosen to carry Britain’s flag in the opening ceremony “by far the proudest moment in my professional career.”

Murray is scheduled to play his opening singles and doubles matches Sunday.

BRAZIL STARTED its quest for an Olympic gold medal in men’s soccer with a 0-0 draw against South Africa, a result that prompted loud jeers by some home fans.

In the other Group A match, Iraq and Denmark also played to a scoreless draw.

In Rio de Janeiro, Portugal defeated two-time Olympic champion Argentina, 2-0. Earlier, Honduras defeated Algeria 3-2 in the other Group D game.

Colombia and Sweden drew 2-2 in Group B. Nigeria and Japan played in the second game in the other group game.

In Group C, defending champion Mexico drew 2-2 with Germany despite twice having the lead. And South Korea scored seven goals in the final 30 minutes to put away Fiji, 8-0.