Rio de Janeiro, August 6, 2016 (Hina) - The Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games in Rio was held on Friday, August 5 at the Maracanã Stadium and it lasted nearly four hours. The peak of the Ceremony – Olympic Cauldron being lit by former Brazilian marathon runner, 47-year-old Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima, winner of Olympic bronze medal in Athens in 2004 – was followed by lavish fireworks.
The legendary football player Pele was first asked to light the Cauldron, but he had to decline it due to the health problems. Right before the Opening Ceremony, a rumor appeared that former Brazilian tennis player, 39-year-old Gustavo Kuerten, three-time French Open champion, will lit the Olympic Cauldron, but again the rumor turned out to be inaccurate.
Kuerten brought the Olympic torch to the stadium, but the Olympic Cauldron was lit by marathon runner Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima. The acting Brazilian President Michel Temer declared the Games officially open, however, besides receiving applause he was also loudly booed.
The Opening Ceremony of the Games at the Maracanã Stadium was attended by over 50,000 spectators and followed via TV by approximately three billion people around the world. In front of the Stadium there was a crowd of several hundred demonstrators, who believed that the money spent on the organization of the Olympic Games could have been spent in a better way. They were broken up by the police.
In the first hour of the Ceremony, there were numerous dancers and musicians that showed – followed by the rhythms of samba and bossa nova - the history of Brazil as well as the blend of different cultures that form the Brazilian society, while at the beginning one of the most recognized Brazilian sambistas, Paulinho da Viola, played the Brazilian national anthem on the acoustic guitar.
Another remarkable chapter of the evening was the flight of the “14-Bis” biplane replica, one of the earliest flying machines ever built, designed in 1906 by the Brazilian aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont. The plane flew from the Maracanã Stadium into a magical Brazilian night.
Great attention was given to the legendary song "The girl from Ipanema" (“Garota de Ipanema”), Brazilian bossa nova jazz song, a worldwide hit that made Brazil famous all around the world. "The girl from Ipanema" was performed by Daniel Jobim, grandson of the song author Tom Jobim, while on this occasion the role of the girl from the famous beach of Ipanema was played by the Brazilian fashion icon Gisele Bündchen, one of the most famous models in the world.
The introductory program of the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony ended with an ecological message, that is, the need to have everybody engaged in preserving the natural environment. Thus, all the athletes participating at the Olympics, around 11,300, will receive a seed and a soil cartridge to plant a native tree of Brazil during the Olympic Games. Those seeds will form the Athletes’ Forest in Deodoro – a big environmental legacy for the host city, representing a small contribution to the Brazilian forest resources, since Brazil has more than 300 billion trees.
The introduction was followed by the parade of sports delegations from 205 countries – Parade of Nations. The Croatian delegation was 55th in line, and our flag bearer was Josip Pavić (34), captain of the Croatian Olympic Water Polo Team Rio 2016.
The Croatian delegation in Rio consists of 87 athletes. The last Olympic Games in London were the most successful for Croatia, when our athletes have won six medals, three gold, one silver and two bronze medals. And now our reputable agency Infostrada Sports predicts eight medals, three of them gold.
Among the flag bearers, the biggest star was American swimmer Michael Phelps (31), most successful athlete in the history of the Olympic Games with 22 medals, of which 18 gold. The bearer of the Spanish flag was Rafael Nadal, winner of 14 Grand Slam tournaments, while Andy Murray, two-time winner at Wimbledon, was carrying the British flag.
Kosovo made its Olympic debut at the Rio Olympics and its flag bearer was judoka Majlinda Kelmendi.
One of the last teams that marched to the Stadium was the Olympics' first-ever team of refugees, which received massive cheers from the public.
After that, the President of the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee Carlos Nuzman and President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach held short speeches, while the Brazilian sailor Robert Scheidt, double Olympic champion, took the Olympic oath on behalf of all the athletes.
The first Olympic Laurel, a new award to recognize notable contributions to the Olympic movement, was given to the double Olympic champion, Kenyan Kipchoge Keine (76).