RIO DE JANEIRO – Samba dances, explosion of colors and carnival Brazlian spirit
filled the air in the iconic Maracana Stadium as Rio heralded the first ever
Olympic Games in South America here on Friday night.
Showcases of the richness of Brazlian popular culture and the energy and
passion of thousands of volunteers kept the 70,000 specators and an estimated
three billion worldwide television audience glued to the seat.
The four-hour energetic programme kicked off with the Brazilian national
anthem followed by performances of various artistes with laser lit cheoregraphy
and fireworks, depicting the call to save the forest in the state and planet
from climate change.
Dozens of heads of state including United Nation Secretary General Ban Kim
Moon, France president Francois Hollande and Brazilian interim president Michel
Temer were in party mode to the burst of fireworks and colorful presentation by
Five hours earlier, before the start of the opening ceremony, the security
forces enforced a five-kilometer radius locked down around the 78,600 capacity
However, a small group of protesters were outside the stadium, angry with
the country’s recession, corruption and cost of the Games.
The low-tech ceremony albeit a massive budget slash from intial US$113
million to US$55.9 million did not deter artistic director, Fernando Meirelles,
from presenting a glittering ceremony.
Malaysia made their entrance into the stadium as 119th of the 206 nations
and the 10-member refugee contingent marching behind the white Olympic flag.
Led by Datuk Lee Chong Wei as the flag bearer of the 32-athlete contingent,
the Malaysians were clad in orange baju kurung and baju Melayu with tiger
stripes motif for their selendang and samping.
Malaysia will start the 31st Olympiad with a feverish desire to end a
60-year wait for the elusive gold medal with expectations on Chong Wei to cap
his Olympic farewell.
The national cycling team did not participate in the traditional march past
as they will only arrive in Rio tomorrow after a month-long training stint in
Malaysia collected a silver medal through Chong Wei and a bronze from diving
queen, Pandelela Rinong, in the last edition in London, four years ago.
The national contingent trooped into the stadium according to the Portugese
alphabetic order, waving their hands to the crowd.
Before the official start of the Games, Souh Korean archer, Kim Woo Jin set
the first Olympic and world record in the games when he shattered the men’s
individual recurve 72 arrows during the qualifying ranking round with 700
He cracked his compatriot, Im Dong-Hyun’s record of 699 points set in the
2012 London Games.
Football legend Pele did not light the Olympic cauldron as the 75-year-old
and three World Cup winner has been suffering from poor health and had hip
surgery earlier this year.
Temer declared the Games open after Brazil, as the final contingent, paraded
in, to the thunderous applause of the crowd.
The stage is all set now for the 10,000 athletes to look for glory in the
17-day challenge which draws the curtain on Aug 21. – Bernama