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Rio Olympics Opening Ceremony Dazzles the World | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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FIREWORKS are seen during a rehearsal of the opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. AFP

London – Director Fernando Meirelles was faced with a great challenge when he was assigned to orchestrate the Rio Olympics opening ceremony.

The director of the award-winning film “City of God” and “The Constant Gardener” is known for dealing with crime and violence in his films. So what it is that he can present at the Rio Olympics?

With all the previous extravagant ceremonies hanging over his head, Meirelles chose his opening ceremony to express the spirit of Brazil rejoicing life with fun and happiness.

“Athens was classic, Beijing was grandiose, London was smart – ours is going to be cool,” said the director during one of the interviews.

The ceremony focused on three main things: creation of Earth, nature, protecting the environment, diversity and fun. Meirelles didn’t have many options as he had to give a show that focuses on Brazil’s festivals without relying much on technology.

Everyone at Rio de Janeiro’s iconic stadium Maracana admitted that it was anti-depressant despite the limited budget and the struggling country that faces its worst economic time and recession in 80 years. Almost ten thousand police man were responsible of the security measures around and at the gates of the stadium.

The ceremony revealed Brazil’s rainforests and the creativity and diversity of its people.

On Friday, the four-hour ceremony kicked off with “Aquelle Abraco” (That Embrace) composed by the Grammy Award winner Gilberto Gil, accompanied by laser show and dancing.

Then came the famous Samba songwriter Paulinho de Viola who sang the Brazilian national anthem while playing the guitar.

Fernando Meirelles wanted the ceremony to be an antidepressant: “”I hope the opening ceremony can be a kind of anti-depressant for Brazil.”

The stadium with over 60 thousand spectator pulsed with lights, fireworks, circus-like acrobatics and a samba sing along that embraced the nation’s partying style. After which the Brazilian super model Gisele Bundchen crossed the whole field as the song “Girl from Ipanema” played. It was a true Brazilian carnival with colors, music and drums.

The carnival depicted the history of Brazil with the arrival of enslaved Africans 400 years ago in Brazil, followed by the arrival of the Portuguese conquistadors, until Brazil’s modern history.

The show also focused on Earth’s future with global warming and stressed that Brazil with the world’s largest rainforest, the Amazon, plays an important role.

The ceremony also had an important message to deliver to the world. They showed images from NASA that sheds a light on the environmental change, pollution and many other aspects.

According to Olympic traditions, delegation from Greece was the first to enter, while the team of the hosting country entered last after the Refugees Team, which was highly welcomed by everyone during the ceremony.

Reception varied for teams with Portugal receiving one of the best greetings followed by the Italian and Mexican delegation.

The Russian delegation entered the stadium with smiles despite the poor reception and the disapproving cheers. The Argentinian delegation was also boo-ed due to the historic rivalry between the two countries.

Despite the over-weighing loss in the World Cup of 2014, Brazilians cheered for the German delegation.

Of the attendees, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, French President Francois Hollande, Argentinian President Mauricio Macri, Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes, and U.S. State Secretary John Kerry.