Rio Olympic Games opening ceremony

Flag bearer Rodney Govinden led Team Seychelles during the opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on Friday night at the fabled Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
Seychelles was the 168th country to enter the 78,000-capacity Maracanã, joining more than 10,000 athletes from 207 teams in the colourful parade of nations led by Greece, home of the ancient Olympics.
New this year is a specially formed refugee team.
The opening ceremony was broadcast to an estimated audience of three billion.
Each athlete was presented with a seed and a cartridge of soil to enable them to plant a native tree of Brazil, which will ultimately form an ‘Athletes Forest’ made up of 207 different species – one for each delegation.
The Rio Games were launched with a flamboyant spectacle headlined by supermodel Gisele Bundchen as marathon runner Vanderlei Cordeiro De Lima, who won bronze for Brazil in the marathon at the 2004 Games after he was grappled by a spectator while leading the race, lit the cauldron after an exuberant show of Brazilian cultural touchstones and breathtaking pyrotechnics – and a compulsory burst of samba.
Football legend Pele had ruled himself out of performing the role saying he was not in the right “physical condition”.
Despite being booed and jeered, interim Brazilian President Michel Temer declared South America’s first Olympic Games open.
International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said “this is the moment of the ‘maravilhosa cidade’ (marvellous city).”
“This first ever Olympic Games in South America will go from Brazil to the entire world,” he added.
Organising committee chief Carlos Nuzman said “the Olympic dream is now a wonderful reality. The best place in the world is here and now.”
The Brazilian national anthem was sang by Brazilian singer Paulinho da Viola before the start of the show of laser lights and elaborate dances highlighting Brazil’s history and rise as an emerging power.
Indigenous tribes and dueling dance groups were among the highlights of a show low on technology but high on invention. But the overwhelming theme of the evening was protection of the environment.
An early opening sequence depicted the birth of life, culminating in the sprouting of a green entanglement of leaves from the stadium floor depicting the Amazon rainforest.
Indigenous Brazilians then performed native dances before creating huge “Ocas” or native huts in the centre of the stage.
That gave way to an exuberant, joyous party which encompassed Brazil’s breathtakingly diverse musical and cultural traditions.
The celebratory atmosphere followed fresh protests earlier when about 3,000 people with placards saying “No to the Olympics!” gathered outside a luxury hotel where many athletes are staying.
Brazil has spent more than US $10 billion on new infrastructure and preparing for the Games at a time of economic crisis.
The billions lavished on the Games has angered many Brazilians as the country grapples with a tanking economy and mass social problems.
But since the XXXI Olympiad was officially opened the focus has already shifted to the action in 28 sports which have started registering impressive results.
Meanwhile, female swimmer Alexus Laird was the first Seychellois athlete expected in action yesterday at 1pm (8pm Seychelles time) in the 100m backstroke at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium.
Boxer Andrique Allisop was to meet Irish Oliver David Joyce in a first round fight of the men’s light weight (60kg) at the Riocentro Pavillion 6 late yesterday afternoon (midnight in Seychelles).
As for weightlifter Rick Confiance he will be in action today in the 62kg weight class at the Riocentro Pavillion 2.