Brazil’s Beauty Celebrated As Rio 2016 Looks Colourful
After long periods of preparation and speculation, Rio 2016 Olympic Games finally got underway in a colourful and gripping ceremony at Rio’s mythical Maracana stadium.
Besieged by fears of the Zika virus, stagnation and political strife, the Games of the 31st were finally opened to an estimated audience of three billion as Brazil’s history and natural beauty were celebrated.
With football legend Pele unavailable over health concerns, the Rio 2016 Olympic cauldron was lit by former marathon runner Vanderlei de Lima, officially welcoming over 11,000 athletes from 207 Teams across 28 sports, the BBC writes.
Light displays, fireworks, dancing and music entertained the Maracana crowd at intervals after a simple but emotional rendition of the Brazilian national anthem, sung and played on acoustic guitar by singer-songwriter Paulinho da Viola.
Video projections beaming on to the floor of the stadium explored the history of the nation, starting with the beginning of life to the contributions made by the nation’s indigenous peoples, by Portuguese explorers, by African slaves and by Japanese immigrants.
A recreation of a 14-bis biplane – the invention of Brazilian Alberto Santos-Dumont, which first flew in 1906 – drew one of the biggest cheers of the evening as it flew out of the arena.
As IOC president Thomas Bach said, “These first Olympic Games from South America go from Brazil to the entire world.
“All Brazilians can be very proud tonight. With the Olympic Games as a catalyst, you have achieved in only seven years what generations before you could only dream of.”
While the president of Rio 2016, Carlos Nuzman, said he was “the proudest man alive”.
One of the warmest welcomes of the evening was given to a team consisting of refugee athletes – the penultimate team to enter the stadium. According to president Bach, the refugee athletes were sending “a message of hope to the millions of refugees around the globe”.
But the local crowd of 60,000 exploded with noise as the Brazil team, with London 2012 modern pentathlon bronze medallist Yane Marques flying the nation’s flag, emerged into the stadium to chants of “Brasil, Brasil, Brasil”.
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