Olympic 2016 Open with 'Samba', Global Warming Taking Centerstage

Olympic 2016 Open with 'Samba', Global Warming Taking Centerstage

Rousseff, the suspended president, was supposed to preside over the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, but Brazil's upper chamber of the National Congress voted in May to suspend her and begin an impeachment trial against her.

The 2016 Rio Olympics Opening Ceremony was, in areas, really very simple.

Rio's Olympics are costing almost $12 billion with big legacy projects like a new metro line, bus highways and massive real estate developments.

Brazil now has two presidents - Dilma Rousseff is suspended as she awaits an impeachment trial.

Marathon runner Vanderlei Cordeiro, who was denied victory at the 2004 Athens Games when he was attacked by a spectator, lit the cauldron on Friday after an exuberant show of Brazilian cultural touchstones and breathtaking fireworks.

This was not the case for the opening ceremony orchestrated by "City of God" director Fernando Meirelles, who chose to depict the colonization of Brazil, as well as the importation of African slaves and the importance of indigenous populations, since each played a vital role in the building of the country as it stands today.

New countries such as Kosovo and South Sudan took their place in the pageant for the first time, as well as a team of refugee athletes, with big cheers for nations with large immigrant communities in Brazil, such as Italy and Japan, and roars for the more recognisable flag bearers such as tennis star Rafa Nadal and swimmer Michael Phelps.

Brazil is the first South American nation ever to host an Olympics.

To top things off, Bundchen walked the length of the stadium accompanied by the classic Brazilian samba "Girl From Ipanema" as performed by Daniel Jobim, grandson of the song's composer, Antônio Carlos Jobim.

Each athlete will be asked to plant seeds that will eventually grow into trees.

Olympic 2016 Open with 'Samba', Global Warming Taking Centerstage

These are hard times for a country that was enjoying rapid economic growth when Rio won the right to host the Games but is now in recession and with a government in tatters. When they sprout, they will be planted in a Rio park.

With "USA" emblazoned on the back of his jacket, Michael Phelps carried the flag for the US team, the largest with 549 competitors.

The spotlight of the night was on the Russian team, which has been whittled down to 271 athletes from an initial 389 following doping allegations. Another woman pushed Nemati's wheelchair.

After the grandeur of Beijing's opening ceremony in 2008 and the high-tech, cheeky inventiveness of London's in 2012, Rio's was earthier and less swish but more sobering, with its gloomy environmental look at the future and deliberate penny-pinching.

The budget ceremony - costing a tenth of what was spent in London - is born out of necessity; Brazil is going through an extremely tough economic recession while its political landscape is in the middle of a veritable storm.

Following the tradition, Greece, the birthplace of ancient Olympics, led the athletes' parade with the hosts country Brazil coming last.

"It is pretty tacky to be overspending", he said.

The ceremony also had an important message to deliver to the world.

After seven years of preparations for the opening at the Maracana Stadium, organisers hoped the start of the Games would turn the page on months of bad publicity for Rio - from polluted water to faulty plumbing at the athletes' village and worries about the Zika virus.



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