Making of the 2016 Rio Olympics Opening Ceremonies

Last night Rio de Janeiro opened its doors and welcomed the world to take part in the mankind’s premier sporting event: the Olympic Games.

The opening ceremonies this year were different, “more real,” some might say, in that the organizers of the event did not shy away from addressing controversial issues that have not only taken hold in Rio’s, but around the world.  The ceremonies began with a show made possible by magnificent projectors–this method was also cost-effective for the organizers of the Games–that took viewers through the history of Brazil, starting with its very genesis: the rain forest.

Before the forest, there was water.  Once the molecules coalesced and became one, green began to spread over the floor, and other forms of life moved in.  A group of people, all descendants of the original indigenous Brazilian tribes rushed in, only to be followed by Portuguese sailors on ships who would give the country its name for the prevalence of Brazil wood found in the Amazon.  After the Portuguese, Africans followed, then groups from Asia and other parts of the world, and together they showed that Brazil would not be Brazil were it not for the unique contributions of each group.

As the ceremonies progressed, so did the young Brazil that was represented on the floor of Maracanã Stadium.  Cities were built (in this case, with light from the projectors), and actors jumped from rooftop to rooftop.  From the city rose a metropolis at the far end of the stadium floor, where actors climbed and danced and sang.  Issues such as climate change and pollution were addressed, as was poverty and the socioeconomic divide felt by the peoples of Brazil within their own country.  Special guest appearances from Brazilian celebrities including supermodel Gisele Bundchen occurred throughout the evening, and then came the athletes.

Phelps leading Team USA in Opening Ceremonies (Courtesy Rio 2016)

Michael Phelps as flag bearer for Team USA (Courtesy Rio 2016)

Anyone reading SwimSwam right now already knows Michael Phelps was given the honor of leading in Team USA and carrying the American Flag, a moment which, side-stepping journalistic objectivity was, for lack of a better word, awesome.  The opening ceremonies were a beautiful spectacle, a representation of the human spirit and perserverence, and also an ode to the natural, organic beauty of the world.  Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, spoke after host nation Brazil brought in their team, and before the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron.  Bach helped to officially welcome the world to Rio in the spirit of Olympic competition, and also supplicated that mankind understand one another; that it celebrate its differences and find its commonalities.  And then, the torch came in.  The cauldron was given the Olympic flame, and the samba party began with intense percussion, fevered rhythm, and heartfelt dance.

But how?  Who put this all together?  The logistics, the attention to detail, the infrastructure of the whole thing… how did they do that?  The following videos will show you.




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About Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson originally hails from Clay Center, Kansas, where he began swimming at age six.  At age 14 he began swimming club year-round and later with his high school team, making state all four years.  He was fortunate enough to draw the attention of Kalamazoo College where he went on to …

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