Time Out Rio de Janeiro

Rio 2016

Olympic Games end up in samba at Maracanã

After 16 days and more than 300 events involving 42 sports, the Olympic flame was extinguished on Sunday evening (Aug. 21), officially ending the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. In Maracanã and Candelaria, the Olympic Pyres went off at 22h26, under applause from the audience that packed the stadium for the closing ceremony.

The People’s Pyre, however, will remain at the Olympic Boulevard, in Porto Maravilha, celebrating the first edition of the Games in South America. The Carioca style and Brazilianness set party’s tone at Maracana, which ended with samba school performances, in a Carnival out of season. Not even the rain changed public’s animation, who followed the handing over of the Olympic Flag from Rio de Janeiro to Tokyo, the host city for the 2020 Olympic Games.

The ceremony led by carnival director Rosa Magalhães, with musical production by Ale Siqueira, touched the public by making a tour through the Brazilian music, with rhythms like samba, frevo, and maracatu. Santos Dumont, the airplane inventor, and pioneer in wristwatch use, was once again reminded, after the tribute to the 14-Bis at the Opening Ceremony on August 5. Characterized as the aviator, an actor accompanied the countdown to the beginning of the party, culminating in a great fireworks show. The center of the field lawn was occupied by 206 people dressed as birds of the Brazilian fauna.

At the sound of the Barbatuques percussion group, the dancers formed various designs of Rio de Janeiro’s landmarks, such as Christ the Redeemer, and the Sugar Loaf. The choreography was combined with projections inspired by the work of modernist painter Tarsila do Amaral. After the formation of the final design (the Olympic Rings), samba singer and composer, Martinho da Vila, honored – alongside three daughters and a granddaughter – great Brazilian composers, such as Pixinguinha, Braguinha, and Noel Rosa.

The National Anthem was accompanied by drums, and sung by a choir consisting of 27 children, representing the Brazilian states and the Federal District. Former tennis player, Maria Esther Bueno, took the Brazilian flag to the stage. While the 207 delegations started entering the ceremony, Roberta Sá paid tribute to Carmen Miranda and sang Tico-Tico no Fuba. Isaquias Queiroz, the canoeing medalist, was the Brazilian flag bearer. The parade contained a great musical diversity, representing the country’s various regions.

The Brazilian culture celebration also made a trip to a more remote past, reaching the cave paintings of Serra da Capybara. As a UNESCO World Heritage, the archaeological site located in Piauí was represented by 224 dancers, to the sound of a Guaraní children choir. Women lace makers also entered the field, and spun bobbin lace, a Portuguese legacy, that today is one of Brazil’s northeastern cultural heritages. In another high emotional moment, dancers, dressed like clay dolls, occupied the Maracana Stadium’s center in a large forró dancing performance. The audience followed in chorus the execution of Luiz Gonzaga’s song “Asa Branca.”

During the ceremony, the International Olympic Committee launched the Olympic Channel, a digital platform designed to engage the public, and bring together people interested in sports, over the four-year interval between the Games. Five athletes, including Brazilian gymnast Arthur Nory, took to the stage, as the Norwegian DJ Kygo, and singer Julia Michaels performed the song “Carry Me”.

The Rio 2016 athletes were honored in a video, with a soundtrack of Bachianas No. 5, by Heitor Villa-Lobos, that recalled Rio’s Olympiad’s great achievements. In the audience, Brazilians cheered as the country’s athletes, such as judo gold medalist Rafaela Silva, appeared on the big screen. American swimmer Michael Phelps and Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt were also cheered.

A tradition in the closing ceremonies of the Games, the last podium of the Olympics was formed by the winners of the men’s marathon, who ran 42 km on Sunday, through downtown Rio streets, and in the South Zone. The medals were handed over by IOC President Thomas Bach. To thank the work of all the volunteers, Lenin sang an adapted version of the song “Jack Soul Brasileiro.”Following, the national anthem of Greece, the birthplace of the Games, was played, as the country’s flag was run up.

While the Olympic flag was collected, the Olympic Hymn was sung by children of the Projeto More. Rio’s Mayor, Eduardo Paes, returned the flag to Thomas Bach, who handed it to Tokyo’s Governor, Yuriko Koike, ending the traditional flag handover between the present and the future host city for the Games. It was then Japan’s turn to occupy Maracana for eight minutes, to present the country that will host the Olympic Games in 2020. A video showed the character Mario, from a famous video game, trying to get from Tokyo to Rio through a pipeline. When at last, the pipeline shows on the stage, and the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, gets out of it.

Bach and Carlos Arthur Nuzman, president of the Organizing Committee of the Rio 2016 Games, made laudatory speeches about Rio de Janeiro and Brazil. “All Brazilians are Olympic heroes,” Nuzman said. “The Olympic Games were wonderful, in the Marvelous City,” added Bach, who called six Rio citizens to receive a tribute from the IOC to the people of Rio de Janeiro.

Shortly after, the 2016 Olympic Games were declared officially closed, and dancers with costumes inspired by Brazilian flora species formed a great garden, in honor of the landscaper Burle Marx. Singer Mariene Castro appeared next to the Olympic Cauldron, and while she was singing the song “Pelo Tempo que Durar” (“as long as it takes”), an artificial rain extinguished the flame. Instantly, the People’s Pyre, located in front of Igreja da Candelária, was also extinguished.

To end the ceremony in an authentic carioca atmosphere, a carnival parade took account of Maracana, with the right to components from Mangueira, and from Cordão da Bola Preta. Amid a rain of paper streamers, and the final fireworks show, the athletes could not resist but end the night – and the Rio 2016 Games – in the most carioca way possible: with feet in the samba, and smiles on their faces.

Words by Time Out Rio de Janeiro editors
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