The opening ceremony of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games took place on the evening of Friday 5 August 2016 in the Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, starting at 20:00 BRT (23:00 UTC). As mandated by the Olympic Charter, the proceedings combine the formal ceremonial opening of this international sporting event (including welcoming speeches, hoisting of the flags and the parade of athletes) with an artistic spectacle to showcase the host nation’s culture. There were around 78,000 spectators at the Maracanã, and approximately 3 Billion viewers worldwide. The Opening Ceremony from start to finish lasted just over 3 1/2 hours. The ceremony was created on a much smaller budget around than past ceremonies partially due to Rio’s economic status and the funds used to remodel Maracanã Stadium.
Despite several controversies surrounding the olympics, which include: The economic stress and poverty of Rio, the negativity surrounding the acting president Michel Temer and recently impeached president Dilma Rousseff, the creation of an Olympic refugee team and the Russian Olympic team’s use of performance enhancing drugs.
The Ceremony itself, was created to demonstrate the history and diversity of Brazil and show what it hopes to become in the future. The ceremony used artistic design to demonstrate Brazil’s progression and touch on the important topic of Global Warming and it’s effect on the World.
At exactly 20:00 (8:00 pm), the opening ceremony began with aerial images of the city of Rio de Janeiro in a music video with the song “Aquele Abraço”, sung by Luiz Melodia. After the projection of the first images, the International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach was introduced. Singer Paulinho da Viola enthralled the audience with an interpretation of Brazilian National Anthem on a stage inspired in the architect Oscar Niemeyer forms. The singer was accompanied by a string orchestra. Brazil’s flag was raised and 60 flags were carried by Brazilian athletes Virna, Robson Caetano, Maurren Maggi and Flávio Canto.
There was homage to the spirit of kludge, defined by the organizers as “the talent to do something great from almost nothing”. In this part of the opening, the Brazilian geometric was honored as references to Athos, indigenous geometry, African prints and Portuguese tiles. Peace and sustainability came with the transformation of the peace symbol projection in a tree. Soon after came the representation of the birth of the immense forests that covered Brazil in the arrival of the Portuguese people. From the beginning of life, the honor goes to the formation of indigenous peoples, whose entrance was represented by 72 dancers of the two major associations of Parintins Festival. The arrival of Europeans in caravels, forced arrival of enslaved Africans and the immigration of Arabic and Japanese people was represented with descendents of these ethnic groups.
The 14 bis replica.
One parkour group crossed the stage and jumped on projections of buildings roofs in the ceremony that highlighted the urbanization of contemporary Brazil, concentrated in large cities. At the sound of the classic “Construção”, by Chico Buarque, acrobats scaled the façades of buildings scenography and set up a wall, behind which the plane 14 Bis came with an actor playing the Brazilian inventor Santos Dumont. Gisele Bündchen interpreted the “The Girl from Ipanema” and paraded at Maracanã Stadium, while Daniel Jobim, grandson of composer Tom Jobim, played the classic song. The walk of Gisele designed curves that made Niemeyer’s works, such as the Pampulha Church and the Cathedral of Brasília.
Tribute to samba.
After Ipanema, the favelas were represented to the sound of samba and funk, with the singers Elza Soares, who played the Canto de Ossanha and Ludmilla, who played the Rap da Felicidade. The rapper Marcelo D2 and the singer Zeca Pagodinho simulated a duel of rhythms. Cultural events such as maracatu and the bumba-meu-boi shared the stage of stadium. Jorge Ben Jor and Regina Casé sang the success País Tropical.
Delegations representing 207 nations then marched into the stadium during the Parade of Nations. The crowd gave large applause for other Latin American nations as well as notably Spain, the U.S., Canada, Portugal, and Russia. However, the biggest applause came when the team of Refugee Athletes marched into the stadium just ahead of the Brazilian team. They received a standing ovation from the crowd.
After the parade of delegations, there was a big parade of the 12 samba schools of Rio de Janeiro, and singers Anitta, Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil interpreted the song Isto aqui, o que é?, by Ary Barroso.
Lea T participated in the opening ceremony, thus becoming the first transgender woman to participate in the Olympic Games.
A short speech on climate change – one of the themes of this year’s event – was also delivered during the ceremony. The opening message stated: “Promoting world peace is the basis of the Olympic spirit. Today there is an urgent need to also promote peace with the planet.” An accompanying segment showed effects of the melting polar ice cap and subsequent rising sea level on places that include Amsterdam, Dubai, Lagos, Shanghai, Florida and Rio de Janeiro itself, and also showed Ed Hawkins’ compelling visual spiral indicating global warming.
Brazil’s acting president Michel Temer recited the games’ opening declaration from the stands. Contrary to usual practice, he was not introduced at the beginning of the ceremony.
Ending the Olympic torch relay at the end of the Opening Ceremony, Gustavo Kuerten brought the Olympic torch into the stadium, relayed the Olympic flame to Hortência Marcari, who relayed to Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima, who then lit the Olympic cauldron. The Olympic cauldron was lit inside the Maracanã by Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima, marathon bronze medallist at the 2004 Summer Olympics. Brazilian footballer Pelé was speculated to light the cauldron but was unable to attend the ceremony due to health problems. The cauldron proper takes the form of a pot; as part of the organizers’ focus on reducing the effects of global warming, it was designed to have low emissions and produce a smaller volume of flame than previous cauldrons. The flame is accompanied by a circular kinetic sculpture by Anthony Howe.
In April 2016, Rio Organizing Committee spokesperson Mario Andrada stated that organizers had planned to move the Olympic cauldron to a public location near the Port of Rio de Janeiro following the opening ceremony, most likely near the Candelária Church, rather than have it in one of the main stadiums. This move would be similar to that of the 2010 Winter Olympics, where the official cauldron was located outside the Vancouver Convention Centre but lit in a separate ceremony that immediately followed the conclusion of the opening ceremony proper, which took place in a domed, indoor stadium that would have inhibited public viewing. Mayor of Rio Eduardo Paes expressed a desire for the cauldron to be placed closer to the “heart” of the port, which had been revitalized as a legacy project for the Games.
The Parade of Nations
During the Parade of Nations within the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, athletes and officials from each participating country marched in the Maracanã Stadium preceded by their flag and placard bearer. Each flag bearer had been chosen either by the nation’s National Olympic Committee or by the athletes themselves. In keeping with Olympic traditions, Greece, the birth place of the olympic games that started in 1896, entered first, while Brazil, the host nation, went last. The Refugee Olympic Team, composed of refugees from several countries, went second to last and received a standing ovation. Other countries entered in an alphabetical order in the language of the host country (Brazilian Portuguese).
The newest addition to the parade of nations was the Refugee Olympic Team, which is made of athletes from several countries that are currently having internal struggles and conflicts. This team was created by the Internal Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach to allow them to compete and to being attention to “worldwide refugee crisis.” The athletes are expected to compete under the Olympic Flag. Initially, they were labeled “Team of Refugee Olympic Athletes”, with the IOC country code ROA, but this was updated to Refugee Olympic Team with the country code ROT.
As part of an effort “to show solidarity with the world’s refugees”, the United Nations Refugee Agency selected Ibrahim Al-Hussein, a Syrian refugee residing in Athens, Greece, to carry the Olympic flame through the Eleonas refugee and migrant camp in the city as part of the 2016 torch relay.
In addition, Kuwaiti athletes will compete under the Olympic flag as a result of the suspension of their national Olympic Committee; the Independent Olympic Athletes.
Ultimately, the ceremony was able to capture the beauty and diversity that helped mold Rio de Janeiro into the “melting pot” it has become today. The ceremony also greatly highlighted the Worldwide Refugee Crisis, Rio’s poverty crisis, global warming and ultimately the coming together of the World for a brief period.