rio olympics

As it happened: Rio Olympics Opening Ceremony from the Maracana

The Games get underway with a display of pageantry at the famous football stadium

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 August, 2016, 6:41am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 August, 2016, 3:55pm

Rio kicked off the Olympics with a low-budget opening ceremony that was still packed with colour and the backing of a samba beat, with more than a little preaching about environmentalism thrown in for good measure.

WATCH: Highlights of delegations' parade and lighting of the Olympic cauldron

Catch up with how it all unfolded below

And here to light the cauldron comes - in the absence of Pele - former tennis player Gustavo Kuerten. Not quite the same is it?

BUT WAIT! HE PASSES IT OFF TO ... a woman basketball player, Hortencia Marcari.

She hands it off to former marathon runner Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima, who does the honours. 

After some, shall we say, longeurs, the ceremony kicks back into high gear with a section called Apotheosis, featuring music greats Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil and, er, Anitta, who I guess is big in Brazil. 

They are singing classic samba song Ary Barroso, which symbolises that "Brazilians recognise their difficulties but have the spirit to overcome them", according to my guide.

Then Rio's 12 samba schools send their drum sections out to create an almighty racket and the ticker tape fans blast confetti into the air. Finally some life breathed back into proceedings

A selection of Brazilian athletes and other notables - woman football superstar Marta, basketball great Oscar Schmidt, and the first woman appointed to Brazil's Supreme Court Ellen Gracie Northfleet among them - carry the Olympic Flag to the podium. We are asked to stand for the Olympic anthem. Er, naw.

Kip Keino, former gold medallist for Kenya, is called to the stage for a new 'Olympic laurel' award in recognition of his charitable efforts with orphans at home.

He pleads for humanity throughout the world. 

It's a pity, but the crowd's patience is wearing thin after the two boring fat cats before him

Thomas Bach, IOC president, gets some cheers for praising Brazil for setting up the games in a "difficult time for the country".

He criticises "selfishness" around the world, which is a good laugh considering he represents the IOC, but segues from there into praising the refugee team, who are cheered long and loud.

Carlos Nuzman, president of Brazil's Olympic committee, bores the backside off much of the crowd - well, this member of it at least - with a speech full of the usual platitudes. 

Has a mild rebuke of all the criticisms of these Games, but then gets a nice bit of booing when he decides to praise the federal and local governments.

Crowd getting tremendous, football style chants going in support of Brazil, after the team danced around the stadium to Aquerala do Brasil, known to movie fans as the theme to Terry Gilliam's Brazil.

We get some symbolic fake forest action in the shape of the Olympic rings, then the fireworks blast off the roof of the Maracana. Those on the favela behind the stadium should have had a good view.

It's not over yet though, because before we see the cauldron lit, we get the pleasure of listening to Brazil's Olympic chief and IOC president Thomas Bachzzzzzzz...

And finally, here come the Z countries ...

followed by the Olympic refugee team, who get a huge ovation, and then hosts Brazil, who obviously get a massive welcome. Pity it's drowned out a bit by the music over the PA though. Wish organisers of these things would just let the crowd be heard

No question who the star of the night was, Tonga's taekwondo athlete and model flagbearer, Pita Taufatofa, who comes on shirtless and oiled up. Very oiled up

Only muted boos for Russia, despite their well-documented penchant for a spot of state-sponsored doping.

Forgot to mention about six hours ago that every athlete has been given a seedling to plant, which will then be taken and turned into a glorious Olympic forest. Ok. We'll check back on that plan in about 2036 shall we

And the biggest cheer of the night goes to Portugal. Feels kinda strange as a Brit. Did we get massive cheers at Sydney 2000? 

Can't recall but don't think so somehow!

Weird who gets a cheer and who doesn't.

Italy get a massive one, Jamaica too (Bolt factor), and Japan, all in quick succession. Presumably first and last because of immigration. 

Hong Kong team milling about taking pix of each other down below us

AND HERE COME HONG KONG!! Sorry, Hong Kong China to give them their official IOC designation.

The crowd goes absolutely ... apathetic. Liu Yandong gives us a big wave though, cheers.

Somehow I doubt that gesture will go down with many watching at home on TVB (if they didn't manage to miss HK altogether by cutting to the adverts)

Nice smile from our flag-bearer, swimmer Stephanie Au Hoi-shun, competing in the relay at her third Olympics

Now here come the athletes. Could be tricky to make this interesting ... I'll try to upload as many pictures as possible.

Hong Kong are out 91st...

Poor Greece, get to go first because they invented the Olympics, then have to hang around for two hours.

Big boos for Argentina - "they're our rivals" 

USA get a warm welcome, Cuba too ... and France. 

Oddly (to me anyway), China got a big cheer. Fair few China flags in the crowd.

Brazil are last, refugee team next to last

Next up is a lengthy section called 'After the Party', presumably designed to give us all a massive comedown.

The stadium fills with smoke symbolising - or maybe just consisting of - carbon dioxide.

Dame Judi Dench gives us a lengthy lecture about pollution, which coming from Rio is a bit rich

Some Brazilian pop stars do their thing as an impressive 'light show' completely eliminates them from view.

This ceremony has been done on the cheap compared to the last two in London and Beijing, with most of the colour and drama provided by overhead projectors - the space where the pitch would be is essentially a big movie screen. 

We're exorted to stop fighting, bring about world peace etc, and celebrate diversity before a big dance number with 1,500 oddly costumed folk. It's a 'baile charme' according to the guidebook and the crowd seem to love it

The next section sees favelas get a token mention with a big blocky sculpture-stage meant to represent them. Of course, there's probably few actualy favela residents here.

A big plane 'takes off', because Brazil apparently insist one of theirs, Santos Dumont, invented them. 

Tom Jobim plays the Girl From Ipanema, and Gisele Bundchen struts out.

This is apparently her last catwalk, because she's done with supermodelling after this

Brazilian musician Paulinho da Viola leads the crowd in a rousing rendition of Brazil's anthem as the flag is raised.

Now we're getting a 'recreation of the beginning of life' in Brazil, which was covered in forest before us Euro-trash showed up, performed by means of overhead projection and elaborate rope work that is like an extremely huge and complicated Maypole dance.

It's very impressive, much as I want to scoff

The music turns ominous as the Europeans arrive...

They mess about on mechanical caravels for a bit, before the Africans turn up, on moving wheels to symbolise slavery, with the projected forest replaced by sugarcane plantations.

Then come 'Arabs and the Orient', with big red banners to represent the Japanese immigrants that started arriving in the 20th century. "After five generations, they are completely integrated in the life of the country," the media guide tells us, which is nice for them


The stadium lights are switched off to allow the crowd to create a sea of smartphone-light stars. 

Now a couple of hundred folk in tinfoil suits are rattling big tinfoil cushions. 

This is all in a pattern by Athos Bulcao, famed for such geometric art (apparently).

Now the Peace symbol, turned upside down and with added leaves to symbolise a tree is projected. The ceremony is about peace, environmentalism and reforestation


10 mins to go ... 

Stadium still far from full - Ban Ki Moon of the UN is speaking on the big screen. 

He's pleading with people to put down their weapons and live in peace during the Games. Not sure Isis will listen

We got here maybe five hours before kick-off anticipating a traffic nightmare that appears to have materialised, if our colleague's travails trying to get home from Copacabana is any guide

Good ... morning? The time difference between Rio and Hong Kong is proving hard to get used to.

We're here in the Maracana for the Opening Ceremony as the Games get underway at last. 

Right now a celebrity called 'Queen of Diversity' is training the crowd as to how they have to participate at points in the show. 

The famous stadium is barely half full, I estimate, with about 20 minutes til kick-off.

Unfortunately the main who graced it so often for Brazil, Pele, is too frail to come light the cauldron. It is believed Gustavo Kuerten, the Brazilian former tennis player, will do the honours. 

Stay tuned for all the latest from what promises to be a bonkers evening. Sorry, morning.