Look who I came across at closing ceremony; cool chica & USA flag bearer pic.twitter.com/wbpbFEA5sy
— Brinn Bevan (@brinnbevan) August 22, 2016
Amid rain the closing ceremonies of the 31st Olympiad started with a reminder of who Brazil thinks invited the airplane and a countdown symbolizing his famous watches. Oh and fireworks.
The celebrations at Maracana Stadium in Rio capped a successful first South American Olympics. The games started under the cloud of pollution, politics and problems, but finished with a celebration of the diversity of the host country and all humanity.
Overall the closing ceremonies showcased the culture of Brazil through music and a fantastic light show. The evening started with dancers in tropical bird costumes forming, marching band style, signature visuals of the games. Starting with Christ the Redeemer, then a cable car on Sugar loaf Mountain and continuing with the Rio Olympics logos and the Olympic rings.
The closing ceremonies are a chance for the host country/city to show off the local culture and Rio began with the music. Famed Samba composer Martinho Da Vilaa took the stage with a chorus of his daughters and granddaughters to perform two songs.
Next, the Brazilian national anthem was performed with fantastic drums and a show on the stadium floor where a group clad in white costumes ended up forming the starts on a Brazilian flag that was projected on the stadium. All this happened while tennis great Maria Bueno held the Brazilian flag.
Performer Roberta Sa took to the stadium in a Carmen Miranda influenced dance to a magical Samba beat and a spectacular light show of projections of birds that became her shadow before the Olympic flag bearers entered the stadium.
The USA’s flag was carried by gymnastic super star Siome Biles. Who, by the way, ended up holding up the line of athletes entering the stadium. Not by her own fault, but because so many of her fellow competitors wanted to take selfies with her.
Dancers performed as the around 11,000 athletes from over 200 countries entered the stadium. Waving to cameras and celebrating, they took their places in seats surrounding the stadium floor.
Can I take a second here and give a shout out to the Canadian team and their amazing mittens? Where can I get some of those? It was great fun and represented their home country well.
— Liz Gleadle (@Javelizz) August 22, 2016
After the athletes settled in their place the ceremonies featured a performance by international superstar Kygo. He captained his keyboard while singer Julian Michaels serenaded the world and rain baptized their performance.
During Kygo and Michaels’ performance the IOC announced the Olympic Channel. It’s a digital platform that will highlight Olympic sports 24-7.
Next the ceremony was all about showcasing the people’s culture of Brazil. Starting with music from a children’s choir and performers forming images of cave painting by indigenous Brazilians.
This was followed by poetry about Saudades, a Portuguese word on melancholy and about remembering those that have gone before us.
Next was a beautiful performance centering on lace created by slaves in Brazil.
Following that, ballet dancers form the Brazilian Ballet Company performed in the rain celebrating the clay influenced style of Brazil. The lighting once again played a huge role here, making the dancers look like clay. Then, just off the stage that ballet dancers were on, the floor of the stadium was taken over by dancers dressed and lighted like clay dolls.
Next up was the medal ceremony for the marathon. Kenya took the gold, Ethiopia the silver and the United States the bronze.
The ceremony to hand off the Olympics from Rio to 2020 host Tokyo came next. Starting with the Greek National Anthem, the mayor of Rio handed off the games to the governor of Tokyo with the help of the ICO president.
Then it was the superbly fun Tokyo preview video. It featured athletes, shots of Tokyo, Pac-Man, Hello Kitty and Nintendo’s Mario. Mario helped the Japanese Prime Minister make a quick trip to Rio with the help of a Mario Bros. pipe through the earth.
A fabulous light show followed showcasing the Tokyo 2020 Olympics logo.
After that the ICO president thanked Brazil and Rio in a speech, presented the Olympic Cup and officially closed the games. Followed by a performance that was a tribute to Brazilin artist and landscape designer Robert Marx, then the Olympic flame was extinguished.
But, there was one last performance. A Carnival inspired number that brought the athletes to the floor of the stadium in celebration, then more fireworks.
The 2016 games started after a lead up of doom and gloom. They finished with music and fête that brought the best of Rio de Janeiro to the world stage. The United States saw the rise of new superstars, the final performances of others and a final medal count that led the world. Rio showed the world that in spite of turmoil they are a city demanding their place in the world of the 21st century.