2016 Rio Olympics begins with grand ceremony

Aug 6, 2016 11:03 IST

The 31st Summer Olympic Games officially began on 5 August 2016 with inaugural ceremony held at the Maracana Stadium in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro.

Olympic Flame

The Game was declared open by Brazil’s Acting President Michel Temer in the presence of International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach and United Nations chief, Ban-Ki Moon.
After declaration of the Games by President Temer, the Brazilian 2004 Athens Olympics marathon bronze winner Vanderlei de Lima lit the Olympic cauldron. He lit the lamp after former tennis world number one and three-time French Open winner Gustavo Kuerten brought the torch into the arena.

Olympic Tradition

After declaration and lighting the flame, the athletes’ parade was led by Greece with the host country Brazil coming at last. The countries marched in alphabetical order based on the spelling of their names in Portuguese.

Traditionally (starting at the 1928 Summer Olympics), Greece enters first, because of its historical status as the progenitor of the Olympics, while the host nation marches last.

Opening Ceremony

The opening ceremony that showcased the rich history and cultural history of Brazil combined with Rio’s famous Samba dance was witnessed by athletes from 205 countries. The ceremony saw participation of around 35000 professionals. With a message of peace and environment, the programme revolved around three main themes - Garden, diversity and joy.

The opening ceremony also saw the traditional Parade of athletes and the lighting of the Olympic cauldron. It delivered a message for planet earth, with organisers saying that each athlete will be given a seedling to plant in what will become the athletes’ legacy for Rio.

Facts of the Rio Olympics

• Nearly 11000 athletes, including a first-ever refugee team, will take part in the 17-day extravaganza featuring 306 events in 42 sport disciplines.

• The Refugee team will compete under the Olympic flag and has members from South Sudan, Syria, Congo and Ethiopia.

• With this, Rio de Janeiro became South America's first Olympic host city, while the African continent is yet to host the Olympic Games.

Other major geographic regions which have not hosted the Olympics include the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia.

Flagbearer Abhinav Bindra

India at Rio Olympics

India is fielding its biggest-ever contingent with almost 120 athletes. Prominent among those are

  • Shooters Abhinav Bindra, Jitu Rai and Gagan Narang
  • Archer Deepika Kumari, wrestlers Yogeshwar Dutt and Vinesh Phogat
  • Boxer Shiva Thapa
  • Sprinters Dutee Chand and Srabani Nanda
  • Tennis stars Sania Mirza, Mahesh Bhupathi, shuttlers Saina Nehwal and K. Srikanth
  • Gymnast Dipa Karmakar
  • Men's and Women's Hockey teams

Indian contingent (95th country to enter the stadium) was led by its only individual gold medallist Abhinav Bindra as the flag bearer. Indian male marched in navy blue colour blazer and trousers, while, their female counterparts had blue blazer and traditional Saree.

The parade was skipped by the men’s hockey players as they had a match against Ireland. The archery, table tennis and weightlifting teams also skipped the opening ceremony.

The build-up of the Games has been dominated by a doping scandal in Russia and also in India, threat of Zika virus, leading to withdrawal by big names, and issues with the city's security, infrastructure and venues. But still, the Games promise to be, as always, the mother of all sporting events.

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