By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Following sixteen days of competition which featured over 11,000 athletes from over two hundred countries and the historic Refugee Olympic team, the final event of the 2016 Rio Olympics Games, the Cerimônia de Encerramento (Closing Ceremony), took place in the iconic Maracanã stadium on the night of Sunday, August 21st.
Lasting a little under three hours, shorter than the Opening Ceremony’s four-hour presentation, the event featured several colorful performances, fireworks, the parade of nations, speeches by members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the passing of the Olympic flag, a showcase for Tokyo 2020, the extinguishing of the Olympic flame, and a mini Carnival celebration complete with blocos, samba schools, and a float.
The event’s performances celebrated the creativity of Brazilian and their abilities to work with nature to create, including a tribute to the art of Brazilian landscaper Burle Marx. In total, approximately three thousand people participated in the performances including three hundred professionals and 2,700 volunteer dancers.
Special performers during the night included Norwegian DJ, Kygo with singer-songerwriter Julia Michaels, contemporary dance troupe Grupo Corpo, singer Lenine, samba legend Martinho da Vila, and singer Mariene de Castor, who sang as the Olympic Flame sculpture extinguished the flame.
International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach officially closed the 31st Olympiad saying in part; “These were a marvelous Olympics, in a marvelous city. Over the last sixteen days, a united Brazil inspired the world, in difficult times for all of us, with its irresistible joy for life.”
One part of the program that spread joy throughout the stadium and to viewers watching around the world, was the appearance of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe dressed as character Super Mario, rising out of a huge green pipe in the stadium following a video for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games.
To bring the night to a close, the famous bloco, Cordão da Bola Preta entered the stadium to begin the mini Carnival celebration. Members pf Rio’s samba schools followed including the mestre-salas and porta-bandeiras (the flag carrying couple).
Finally, a large Carnival float made its way across the stadium bringing the games to an end. The crowd of athletes and supporters mixed in with the parade and celebrated the close of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.