Rio de Janeiro: Overcast conditions and continuous drizzle failed to dampen the occasion, as in a ceremony splashed with boisterous celebrations, breathtaking fireworks, splendid Brazilian music and entertainment, Rio de Janeiro gave an emotional send-off to the athletes from all over the world who competed at the 31st Games of the Olympiad.
Brazil surprised many a naysayer by staging a fairly spectacular Games, and the closing ceremony at the iconic Maracana Stadium was exactly what the South American nation’s culture represents to the world and all that’s best about Brazil.
Fifteen days of the intense battle for medals, the joy of victory and the sorrow of defeat was put aside as athletes of the world let their hair down at the world’s biggest party arena. So, the Parade of Athletes into the Maracana was quite different from the one on August 5.
The loudest cheer besides the host country went to Team USA who topped the medals list with more than a hundred medals, and its contingent was led in by multiple gold winnning gymnast Simone Biles. Wrestler Sakshi Malik had the honour of leading the Indian contingent.
For those who packed into the Maracana, their added joy was Brazil’s gold medal in football, beating Germany. What better gift than that for a football-mad nation.
If the opening ceremony was themed on hope and a warning to save nature, Sunday night’s function was pure Mardi Gras - performers and dancers putting on a spectacle that highlighted Brazilian culture. Considering that Brazil’s greatest carnival designer Rosa Magalhaes was behind the show, it was little wonder that the Maracana was held spellbound.
The closing ceremony was livened by world famous Norwegian electronic tropical musician Kygo, who had lived with his family in Brazil. Kygo, a pop sensation, set the stadium on fire with ‘Carry Me’ performed with vocalist Julia Michaels.
The curtains came down on the games with three national anthems - that of Greece where it all began, the Brazilian ‘Hino Nacional Brasileiro’ and Japan’s ‘Kimigayo’. Japan also gave a video brief of what to expect at Tokyo in 2020.
The ceremonies closed with IOC President Thomas Bach calling on all athletes to meet in four years in Tokyo and the symbolic handing over of the Olympic flag to Tokyo’s governor Yuriko Koike.
The most poignant moment, of course, was when the Olympic flame was extinguished, bringing the stadium to a hush. The closing ceremony left a tinge of sorrow that 15 days of high-performance sport had ended.
Brazil was where two of the world’s greatest sporting legends, American swimmer Michael Phelps and Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, whose feats will perhaps never ever be matched, performed for the last time at Olympics.
This historic city of Rio was where new sporting heroes for India — PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik and Dipa Karmakar made stunning Olympic debuts.
Like most Olympics, Rio too had its glitches, its controversies but tonight Brazil could go to sleep content that it had pulled off the Games quite spectacularly. Ole! Rio de Janeiro.
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