Rio Olympics 2016: Opening ceremony

The 2016 Olympics have been formally opened with a colourful and pulsating ceremony at Rio’s Maracana stadium.

Despite so many problems being faced by Brazil and a last minute budget cut, they put up a brilliant display at the 2016 Olympics opening ceremony. It celebrated Brazil’s rich history, culture and nature; they showcased how important preservation of nature is. The atmosphere was carnival like, with the famous Samba Dance performances.

As much as Brazil is facing its worst financial and political crisis, the opening ceremony dispelled any doubts about whether they could pull off the games successfully. There have been incidences here and there but they have been taken care of. The Games, the first to be held in South America, have also been disrupted by concerns over the Russian doping scandal, the Zika virus and problems with the city’s security, infrastructure and venues. But so far the events have not been marred.

After the display of the history and the culture, the Olympic teams paraded out, led by the flag bearers. All the players planted a seed in small soil filled cups which would later be planted and they would act as the legacy of the 2016 Olympics. After all the teams had gathered, the Olympic flag was hoisted and the IOC president Thomas Bach and the Brazilian acting President Michel Terner declared the games open. The representatives for the players, the officials and the coaches then took the Olympic Oath of fair play.

The Olympic flag was carried in by Marta (Football), Ellen Gracie (First woman appointed to the Supreme Court in Brazil), Sandra Pires Tavares (Beach volleyball), Oscar Schmidt (Basketball), Joaquim Cruz (Athletics), Rosa Celia Pimentel (Cardiologist and founder of the Pro-Crianca hospital), Torben Grael (Sailing), Emanuel Rego (Beach volleyball).

There are 28 sports, with 207 teams, after the Games of the 31st Olympiad were officially opened.

The flame was brought in by the former Roland Garros champion Gustavo Kuerten, which he handed over to the 1996 olympic women’s basketball silver medalist Hortencia. The cauldron was lit by Vanderlei De Lima, who won bronze for Brazil in the marathon at the 2004 Games, after being grappled by a spectator while leading the race. The Cauldron after being lit was lifted up at a considerable height and placed in front of a beautiful sculpture. As the cauldron reached at the center of it, it rotated to show the source of energy, the sun. The spiral rotation looked like the sunrays beaming down energy and the effect was enchanting.

Football legend Pele had ruled himself out of performing the role saying he was not in the right “physical condition”.

With Brazil’s economy struggling, the budget for the opening ceremony was thought to be considerably less than the £30m spent on London 2012’s extravagant display.

Though Rio could not match up to the enormity and extravagance of the 2012 ceremony directed by celebrated director Danny Boyle, it still presented a simple yet elegant ceremony, replete with mixed light displays, fireworks, dancing and music. It was a beautiful ceremony. And a lot of the focus was towards saving nature.

One of the warmest welcomes of the evening was given to a team consisting of refugee athletes – the penultimate team to enter the stadium. International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said the refugee athletes were sending “a message of hope to the millions of refugees around the globe”.

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