Rio Olympics 2016: Opening ceremony celebrates Brazil to open Games

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Rio 2016 Olympics: Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima lights Olympic cauldron

The 2016 Olympics have been formally opened with a colourful and pulsating ceremony at Rio’s Maracana stadium.

Broadcast to an estimated audience of three billion, it celebrated Brazil’s history, culture and natural beauty, before former marathon runner Vanderlei de Lima lit the Olympic cauldron.

Wimbledon champion Andy Murray led the Great Britain team into the arena.

The build-up to Rio 2016 has been played out against a deep recession and political protests in Brazil.

The Games, the first to be held in South America, have also been disrupted by concerns over the Russian doping scandal, the Zika virus and problems with the city’s security, infrastructure and venues.

But organisers will hope the focus can now shift to the action in 28 sports, with 207 teams, after the Games of the 31st Olympiad were officially opened.

The cauldron was lit by De Lima, who won bronze for Brazil in the marathon at the 2004 Games after he was grappled by a spectator while leading the race.

Football legend Pele had ruled himself out of performing the role saying he was not in the right “physical condition”.

Coverage of Saturday’s action begins on BBC One at 12:10 BST and across the BBC Sport website.

What happened?

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Rio 2016 Olympics: Cityscape illusion lights up opening ceremony

With Brazil’s economy struggling, the budget for the opening ceremony was thought to be considerably less than the £30m spent on London 2012’s extravagant display.

And while Rio’s event did not match the enormous ambition of the ceremony directed by Danny Boyle four years ago, the Maracana crowd were treated to a show that mixed light displays, fireworks, dancing and music.

Gisele Bundchen<!–

The crowd enjoyed Brazilian model Gisele Bundchen walking out to Daniel Jobim, the grandson of musician Tom Jobim, playing The Girl From Ipanema

After a simple but emotional rendition of the Brazilian national anthem, sung and played on acoustic guitar by singer-songwriter Paulinho da Viola, video projections beamed on to the floor of the stadium explored the history of the nation.

Starting with images of micro-organisms dividing and giant sculptures of microbes – representing the beginning of life – the ceremony showed the contributions made by the nation’s indigenous peoples, by Portuguese explorers, by African slaves and by Japanese immigrants to Brazil’s history and culture.

Performers strode across projections of giant buildings, symbolising the cities of Brazil, and a recreation of a 14-bis biplane – the invention of Brazilian Alberto Santos-Dumont, which first flew in 1906 – drew one of the biggest cheers of the evening as it flew out of the arena.

Opening ceremony<!–

The ceremony focused on environmental issues, particularly global warming, before the athletes emerged

The entrance of 207 teams

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Rio 2016 Olympics: Huge cheers for refugees team at opening ceremony

Two-time Wimbledon champion and London 2012 gold medallist Murray had said holding the British flag and leading his country into the Maracana would be the proudest moment of his career.

The 29-year-old was followed by around 70 of Team GB’s 366 athletes, with many remaining in the training base in Belo.

The Russian team, cut down to 271 athletes from an initial 389 following accusations of widespread doping by an independent report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Association, were at least spared any obvious negative reaction from the crowd.

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Michael Phelps (USA), Rafa Nadal (Spain) and Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) were among the flag bearers

One of the warmest welcomes of the evening was given to a team consisting of refugee athletes – the penultimate team to enter the stadium.

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said the refugee athletes were sending “a message of hope to the millions of refugees around the globe”.

But the local crowd of 60,000 exploded with noise as the Brazil team, with London 2012 modern pentathlon bronze medallist Yane Marques flying the nation’s flag, emerged into the stadium to chants of “Brasil, Brasil, Brasil”.

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Rio 2016: Andy Murray leads Great Britain out in opening ceremony

What happened elsewhere in Rio?

  • Thousands of protestors lined the boulevard alongside Copacabana beach, calling for the removal of interim president Michel Temer.
  • There were also smaller demonstrations nearer the Maracana, with about 200 protestors marching from the Saens Pena square in Tijuca to the stadium.
  • Heavy security was in force around the Olympic Park during the ceremony, with army troops positioned every 25 metres.
  • An unnamed Greek athlete was expelled from the Games after failing a drugs test.
  • Police cordoned off a large area around the Beach Volleyball Arena in Copacabana and deployed robotic bomb detection devices during the ceremony – what appeared to be a black bag and a red rucksack were investigated.

What they said

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Rio 2016 Olympics: Ceremony kicks the Games off with a bang

IOC president Bach shone a positive light on the Games, despite the problems around the organisation in the build-up to Rio 2016.

“These first Olympic Games from South America go from Brazil to the entire world,” he said.

“All Brazilians can be very proud tonight. With the Olympic Games as a catalyst, you have achieved in only seven years what generations before you could only dream of.

“You have transformed Rio de Janiero into a modern metropolis and made it even more beautiful. You managed this at a very difficult time in Brazilian history. We have always believed in you.”

The president of Rio 2016, Carlos Nuzman, said he was “the proudest man alive”.

He added: “I am proud of my city, proud of my country. Let’s celebrate together as we work together to build the Games.”

Team GB highlights on Saturday

  • Chris Froome in the cycling road race at 13:30 BST
  • Ashley McKenzie in men’s -60kg judo from 14:00 BST
  • British rowers in action from 12:30 BST
  • GB men’s hockey team v Belgium in pool match at 16:30 BST
  • James Guy and Stephen Milne in men’s 400m freestyle swimming, with the heats at 17:46 BST and the final at 02:30 BST (Sunday morning)
  • Adam Peaty and Ross Murdoch in men’s 100m breaststroke heats at 19:02 BST, with the semi-finals at 03:05 BST
  • Max Litchfield in the men’s 400m individual medley heats at 18:30 BST, with the final at 02:03 BST (Sunday morning)
  • Hannah Miley and Aimee Willmott in the women’s 400m individual medley heats at 18:30 BST, with the final at 02:49 BST (Sunday morning)
  • GB women v Japan in rugby sevens pool match at 21:00 BST
  • Heather Watson and Kyle Edmund in tennis first-round action from 16:30 BST, as well GB in men’s and women’s doubles
  • In boxing, Britain’s Galal Yafai, Joe Cordina and Lawrence Okolie will start their campaigns for medals
  • Pommel horse world champion Max Whitlock will compete in gymnastics all-round qualification
  • GB’s equestrian riders compete in team and individual dressage from 14:00 BST
  • Day-by-day guide to what’s on

Team GB’s men’s cyclists will hope to claim Britain’s first medal of the Games when they compete in the road race, which starts at 13:30 BST next to Copacabana beach and will take in numerous climbs along its 237.5km route.

Chris Froome, who won the third Tour de France title of his career last month, is expected to be GB’s medal hope, although the London 2012 time trial bronze medallist has said team-mate Steve Cummings is capable of winning the event.

Swimmer Adam Peaty will be the favourite to take gold in the 100m breaststroke, an event in which he is world champion and the record holder, while James Guy and Hannah Miley have hopes of winning medals in the 400m freestyle and 400m individual medley respectively.

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