By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games was held last night, Friday August 5th at the Maracanã Stadium, with almost 12,000 athletes from 207 national delegations attending. Governor Luiz Fernando Pezão (on official sick-leave) and his active replacement Francisco Dornelles, and about fifty heads of state and government from all over the world attended the arrival of the first Olympics held in South America.
The celebration at Maracanã started at 8PM, and lasted for three hours. The presentation showcased Brazilian popular music, samba and funk and presentation, divided into three parts: The Gambiarra (Brazilian Ingenuity), The Beauty of Art Made in Brazil and Peace with the Planet.
Veteran iconic Brazilian singers Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Elza Soares performed, as well as newcomers Anitta, Karol Conka and Mc Soffia; supermodels Gisele Bündchen and Lea T; and athletes Robson Caetano, Virna, Tande, Flávio Canto and Maurren Maggi were some of the names that represented the Brazilian culture and diversity in the ceremony.
President of the Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Rio 2016 and the Brazilian Olympic Committee (COB), Carlos Arthur Nuzman spoke and said, “As a former Olympic volleyball athlete, I am very happy to celebrate this moment with the world’s best athletes. These are the first Games in South America, [and] we deliver the best.”
Adding, “We worked seven years on a journey of achievement and passion for the sport, and Rio is proud to be the Olympic capital of the world. We got all this with the people and the three spheres of government: municipal, state and federal. Our dream is a transformed city to host the Games and Rio are ready to make history.”
The marathoner and Olympic bronze medalist in Athens (2004) Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima lit the Olympic cauldron, a mobile sculpture in the shape of the sun. After the ceremony, the Olympic flame was brought from Maracanã to the Olympic Boulevard, in Rio’s Centro Port Zone, where a second pyre will stay lit until the end of the Games. After 95 days of relay, the torch traveled 20,000 km, (10,000 miles) through over 300 cities.
Interim president of Brazil, Michel Temer was quietly present, and earlier had held a reception at Itamaraty Palace for heads of state and government who came to Brazil for the opening ceremony.
Among the visitors are French President Francois Hollande and U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, and government sources say that the president of Argentina, Mauricio Macri, was one of the representatives who Temer spent the most time with.
According to government news sources, an audience of nearly 80,000 people attended the event at the stadium, and the organizers estimate that three billion viewers watched the event on television around the world.
Brazil’s chief secretary of the Civil House, Leonardo Espíndola said, “We had a beautiful opening, the most watched television event in world history. We are proud to have the Maracanã be the stage for the opening ceremony of this party.”
The Rio 2016 Olympics will run from August 5-21st, and the Paralympics from September 7-18th, and the National Confederation of Trade, Services and Tourism (CNC) economist Fabio Bentes forecasts 1.4 million visitors, foreign and domestic, circulating and consuming goods in the city during the two months of the sports competitions.