By Lucy Jordan, Senior Contributing Reporter
BRASÍLIA, BRAZIL – Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes yesterday received the Olympic flag at the 2012 London games’ closing ceremony, in a symbolic gesture that signifies the beginning of the four-year run-up to the 2016 Rio games. The flag handover initiated an exuberant eight-minute Brazilian presentation during the ceremony, featuring Carnival samba-dancing street-sweeper Renato Sorriso and football superstar Pele, amongst others.
London Mayor Boris Johnson waved the flag and then passed it to International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge, who in turn waved it and gave it to Mr. Paes. At a press conference on Friday, Mr. Paes had paid tribute to London, saying the city had hosted an “outstanding” games.
“We have been very impressed with the London Olympics. It has been an outstanding Games for the city and the world,“ he said.
Brazil won seventeen medals throughout the 2012 London games, at 22nd place in the overall ranking of the Games. The number exceeds the prediction of the Brazilian Olympic Committee (COB), which hoped to achieve the same result in Beijing in 2008 (23rd place with a total of fifteen medals).
With 57 Brazilians competing in 2012 Olympic Games, gold accounted for three victories; women’s volleyball, Sarah Menezes in women’s judo, and Arthur Nabarrete Zanetti for a first ever Brazilian win in gymnastics. Brazil also won five silver and nine bronze – in eight disciplines: boxing, football (soccer), gymnastics, judo, sailing, swimming, volleyball and beach volleyball.
With the flag handover on Sunday the Brazilian portion of the closing ceremony, created by directors Cao Hamburger and Daniela Thomas and showcasing an celebration of Rio, officially began. Sorriso kicked off the Rio 2016 preview with a tribute to Carnival, dancing exuberantly to cheers from the crowd and briefly teaching samba to a British security guard.
On a recreation of Copacabana’s boardwalk, indigenous performers wearing illuminated headdresses danced and Marisa Monte played Bachiana No. 5 by Heitor Villa-Lobos. BNegão sang Maracatu Atomic by Chico Science accompanied by samba school percussion.
Seu Jorge, one of the most well-known Brazilians internationally, sang Nem Vem que Não Tem, by Wilson Simonal, and then all three musicians together sang Aquele Abraço, by Jorge Benjor. The Brazilian part of the closing ceremony ended with Mr. Sorriso meeting a man disguised in hat and coat, who revealed himself to be Pele, to loud cheers from the audience.
Read more (in Portuguese).
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