Rio 2016: the Opening Ceremony from A to Z

Rio 2016: the Opening Ceremony from A to Z

RIO DE JANEIRO, August 6, 2016 – Every Olympic Opening Ceremony is a complex mixture of show, music, passion and technology that rivals little else. Not much can compare to that sense of emotion and awareness to be part of something much, much bigger than what we are. AIPS has tried to give a live impression of what we witnessed at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro to kick off the XXXI Olympic Games of the modern history.

From A to Z.

ABRAZO The Rio 2016 Opening Ceremony started with the song ‘Aquele Abrazo’ by Gilberto Gil in a version by Luiz Melodia. The song, composed and released in 1969 can be considered Gil’s ‘song of farewell’ before being exiled: it is his most played song and is seen as a symbol of the struggle against military dictatorship in Brazil*.

BUDGET The budget spent for the Brazilian Opening Ceremony was 12 times less than London and 20 times less than Beijing: that’s maybe why one of the themes celebrated in the opening segment is the ‘giambiarra’, the Brazilian talent for making something great out of almost nothing.

CONTINENTS For the first time South America is going to host Olympic Games: the theme of various continental influences on the nation is one of the first scenes of the night. From the indigenous first people, to the Portuguese colonization, to African slavery which lasted almost 400 years in Brazil to the more recent Arab and oriental immigration.

DIVERSITY Diversity is a fundamental topic in Brazilian culture and way of life. As is the reality worldwide, tensions appeared on stage in the shape of fire, swords and and battle. Regina Casè, local actress and presenter expressed the hope that disputes and conflicts around the world should stop: “Stop fighting, we are here to celebrate the differences.”

ENVIRONMENT and the respect that it needs was a crucial, sobering point of the huge show: the planet needs humankind to stop betraying it unconditionally. The only possible future for the Earth is in the hands of this generation: that’s the deepest message Brazil and South America want to spread to its three billion viewers around the world.

FAVELAS and their voice were an unavoidable part of the Carioca festival. The building construction in disarray were roots and breeding ground for the pulsating energy of the popular base that made the Maracana pulsate and light up in color.

(The) GIRL from Ipanema was top-model Giselle Bundchen who catwalked for almost 100 metres in direction of the image of Tom Jobim while Daniel Jobing on the other side performed at the piano the timeless Brazilian hymn ‘Garota de Ipanema’, the second most known song in the world.

HYBRID The Olympic Cauldron was a tradition breaker tonight: normally the cauldrons produce a large volume of fire, while the Brazilian one was intentionally small and with low emission. What does it represent? The fundamental necessity to reduce global warming. A innovation that should be a landmark for the future Games, which intend through Agenda 2020 to be more and more respectful of the environment and with limited impact.

JAMAICA’s Bolt missing the Opening Ceremony was announced with just a few hoursto go. Despite the star athlete’s absence his national delegation had a lot of support from the audience as Megane Simmons, Asafa Powell and flagbearer Shelly-Ann Fraser-Prince, with her Brazilian inspired hair color.

KEINO KIP The Kenyan two-time Olympic gold medallist entered in the stage running together with children and kites/doves to be the first recipient of the Olympic Laurel, a recognition for his outstanding contribution to Olympism. During his speech he asked the Olympic Family to keep on working on youth. “We come to this world with nothing, we will leave it with nothing,” Kip reminded all.

LIGHTS are something more than functional in such ceremonies: despite their simplicity they mark the difference from one segment to the other. Even the effective use of the audiences mobile’s lights came from to time during the ceremony to include the crowd and make the atmosphere more intimate despite the impressive amount of people gathered at the Maracana.

METROPOLIS One of the brutal impressions that can be given by Rio de Janeiro is the chaotic urbanization of the city represented in one of the initial segments of the ceremony, set on the stage background and representing the typical Rio skyline.

NATURE The wild and tropical nature of Brazil is something unique in the world: that’s why the show gave prominence to sea, beach and forest. The complex realization of Pindorama, the birth of life aim to evoke the Tupi-Guarani way to call this territory meaning ‘land of the Palm trees’, the mythical land free of all evils.

OLYMPIC Rings were composed of green trees. The choreography started right after the Brazilian delegation entered the stadium to huge cheers: the mirrors where the seed tubes were deposited began moving around the stage. (*See letter S). As by magic they were opened to reveal lush vegetation, anticipating what will happened in Deodoro Athletes Park. The rings created by Pierre de Coubertin tonight represented the universal idea of replanting forests worlwide: ‘Green should take over all five continents’.

PUBLIC The almost 75,000 spectators present at the Rio 2016 Opening Ceremony were assisting and making themselves part of the show. Through their involvement in several moments of the show the public were real protagonist of the ceremony, as remarked by Regina Casè: “In Brazil we love to have a party and we truly believe that everyone was made to shine.”.

QUALITY Taking advantage of the undoubted qualities of Brazilian culture Marco Balich, Executive Producer of the Opening Ceremony, and his team managed to create a show that was easy to follow and vibrant in its authentic and genuine contents. Rhythm, colour and empathy were the main ingredients of this amazing piece of art and performance.

REFUGEE Olympic Team made history in this Opening Ceremony and in these Olympic Games. For the first time a team composed of refugees will compete and represent not just their strength and courage but attesting that hope and humanity can build a better future. For everybody. “You are sending a message of hope in the world, to many other refugees, thanks to your great talent and human spirit you are making a great effort in the society” – said IOC Thomas Bach, speaking about them.

Samba school dancers perform during the opening ceremony for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. PHOTO/AP
Samba school dancers perform during the opening ceremony for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. PHOTO/AP

SEEDS The Parade of Athletes subtitle was ‘The planters of the world’: is the first time that the athletes take part to an action entering the stadium. Each one of the 11,000 athletes competing in this Games received in the Maracana a seed and a cartridge with soil to plant a native tree of Brazil to form the Athletes’ Forest in the Radical Park in Deodoro.

THOMAS Bach arrives to his first Summer Olympic Games as President after his debut at the Sochi 2014 Winter Games with Agenda 2020 that already put in place some of the changes he wanted to see. ‘This is the moment of ‘Cidade Maravilhosa’ – he claimed – you managed this transformation in a very difficult time in Brazilian history. We are living in a world of crisis, mistress and uncertainty: this is our Olympic answer, the best 10 000 athletes competing against each other and living together in peace in the Olympic Village, sharing their meals and their emotions’. Before Bach’s speech came that of Carlos Nuzman, President of the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee who emphasized with pride: ‘The best place in the world is here and now. Let’s celebrate together as we worked to build these XXXI Games. Here a new world is born.”

UNITY In a chaotic moment, one of instability around the world, sport has to be activated as an instrument of unity. Despite doping scandals, politics, illegal betting and many more problems involving sport today what needs to be underlined on a universal stage like the one represented by the Olympic Games is unity. The unity of peaceful intents, unity of strength, the unity of clean competitiveness and the unity of diversities. The real richness of humanity.

VILA Isabel is one of the 12 Schools of Samba that presented its ‘Bateria’ drumming section in one of the final segments of the ceremony: can you imagine 12 Baterias of the Samba Schools, all at once, parading the Olympic passarela of Maracana? The Rio Carnival was well and truly present in the Maracana

(A) WHEELCHAIR was present in the Opening Ceremony, that of the Iran flagbearer Zhara Nemati, which will be competing in Archery. Zhara, 31 years-old, will compete both in Olympic and Paralympic Games: her spine was broken during the terrible earthquake of December 26, 2003 when the city of Bam was raised down with a total of 26,271 victims and more then 30,000 injured.

(E)X(CITEMENT) was palpable in the stands even hours before the ceremony’s kick-off. The crowd, exactly like Carlos Nuzman, President of Rio 2016 Organizing Committee, were brought together by a feeling of pride of being the first South American country to host the Games and a ceremony of this magnitude.

YANE Marques marched in front of her Brazil teammates to close the Athletes Parade. The modern pentathlete will be competing on August 18 as a bronze medal holder in the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games. The biggest applause of the night was for the Refugee Olympic Team and the host team that followed and all the South American delegations. Something to be remembered about spreading the Olympic Games to new continents.

(BRA)Z(IL) as the host country of the 2016 Summer Games deserve the last letter of our alphabet: the national flag and anthem made their appearance at the beginning of the ceremony as a tribute to all the Brazilian athletes represented by a group of sporting icons who took the stage alongside young promising national athletes. All of them carrying Brazilian flags, the ultimate symbol of passionate nation.

 Report by Maria Pia Beltran, AIPS Media