Fireworks and glamour as Rio Olympic starts
Fears about Rio staging the Olympics have been put to the side, at least for the time being, following a stunning, but modest, opening ceremony at the famous Maracana Stadium.
Organisers endured a troubled build-up blighted by security, economic and health concerns but they delivered on one of their promises by providing a party-like atmosphere to officially kick off what are the first Games to be held in South America.
The opening ceremony’s budget paled in comparison to what was afforded to London four years ago, however what it lacked in financial resources it made up for with a brilliant and colourful reflection of Brazil and its proud people.
Football great Pele was believed to have been pencilled in to light the environmentally friendly Olympic cauldron before being a late scratching because of poor health, leaving 2004 men’s marathon bronze medallist Vanderlei de Lima to do the honours.
Legendary Kenyan distance runner Kip Keino delivered an impassioned speech as the first-ever recipient of the Olympic Laurel and International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach also spoke with distinction.
The opening ceremony will give the Games temporary respite from the criticism of its organisation, although the next 16 days of athletic competition could also help provide reassurance to a nervous IOC.
The Parade of Nations saw a record 207 teams march — with Kosovo and South Sudan doing so for the first time — and the entrance of the Olympic Refugee Team was among the ceremony’s more emotional moments.