TeamSG shuttler Derek Wong leading the Team Singapore contingent at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony. Photo: Sport Singapore
Team Singapore’s Derek Wong led the nation’s Olympic delegation into the famous Maracana stadium as the 2016 Olympic Games opened in Rio on Friday to the delight of local fans in the 78,000 arena and millions around the world.
Wong proudly carried Singapore’s national flag into the legendary venue after a memorable and moving opening ceremony which touched on some of the serious issues facing the planet, as well as the culture and history of the host nation.
It was a proud moment for Derek and the entire Team Singapore delegation in the arena who joined with 206 nations and over 11,000 athletes who will compete at the Rio Games.
There were special cheers for the Refugee Team, who for the first time are representing displaced athletes in the Summer Games.
Brazilian runner Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima lit the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony after the country’s football legend Pele had been ruled out due to ill-health.
De Lima was leading the 2004 race at the Athens Games when a protester attacked and disrupted his run. De Lima wound up finishing third, but was widely praised for the way he handled that disappointment.
Gustavo Kuerten, the tennis player also known as ‘Guga’ carried the torch into the stadium, then handed it to Brazilian basketball legend Hortencia Marcari. She brought it to the stage, then De Lima brought it up the stairs and held it aloft for the crowd to cheer.
The show drew Brazilian stars, like supermodel Gisele Bundchen, who walked across the stadium to the sound of bossa nova hit "Girl from Ipanema" and Paulinho da Viola, a samba songwriter who sang the national anthem with a string orchestra. Everyone performed for free.
Loud cheers erupted when Brazil's beloved pioneer of aviation Alberto Santos-Dumont was depicted taking off from the stadium and flying over modern-day Rio.
The show started with the beginning of life itself in Brazil, and the population that formed in the vast forests and built their communal huts, the ocas.
The mega-cities of Brazil formed in a dizzying video display as acrobats jumped from roof to roof of emerging buildings and then on to the steep favela that served as the front stage for the ceremony.
From the favela came Brazilian funk, a contemporary mash-up of 20th century rhythms, sung by stars Karol Conka and 12-year-old MC Soffia.
Before the entry of the athletes, the playful rhythms of the ceremony gave way to a sober message about climate change and rampant deforestation of the Amazon. Actresses Judi Dench and Fernanda Montenegro lent their voices for a classic poem about hope for the future.
Each athlete -was asked to plant seeds that will eventually grow into trees and be planted in the Athletes’ Forest in Rio in a few years.
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