The 2016 Olympics officially got underway on Friday with a bright and colorful opening ceremony at Rio’s Maracana stadium.

Rio Olympics 2016: Opening Ceremony Recap

“These first-ever Olympic Games in South America will go from Brazil to the entire world,” International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach told an estimated crowd of three billion.

“You have transformed the city of Rio de Janeiro into a modern metropolis and made it even more beautiful,” Bach praised.

Bach then followed his introductory speech with a special tribute to the refugee team — which will compete in Rio under the Olympic flag.

“We are living in a world where selfishness is gaining ground, where certain people claim to be superior to others,” Bach said of the Olympians representing displaced people across the world. “Here is our Olympic answer.”

Carlos Nuzman, president of the organizing committee was up next, welcoming the world to the Rio Olympics.

“Our dream is for the Olympic city to be transformed by the Games,” Nuzman declared. “In the name of all Brazilians, I welcome the world. Rio is ready to make history.”


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The lighting of the Olympic cauldron followed, with the special task going to former marathon runner Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima, who won bronze for Brazil at the 2004 Games after he was attacked by a spectator.

Brazilian’s national anthem came after; sung and played on the acoustic guitar by singer Paulinho da Viola, as video projections flashed on the stadium floor, highlighting Brazil’s culture and history.

There was even a video showing the impact of global warming and the importance of conservation, announcing that every athlete marching into Maracana Stadium was given a seed and a cartridge with soil to plant a native tree of Brazil.

The ceremony continued with supermodel Gisele Bundchen strutting across the long Stadium catwalk to the tune of “The Girl from Ipanema.”

The 207 teams, competing in 28 sports, carrying their country flags as they walked through the arena brought the ceremony to its end — concluding with the Brazil’s team 2012 pentathlon bronze medalist Yane Marques flying the nation’s flag.

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