Viet Nam News
RIO DE JANEIRO – The Rio Games launched with a flamboyant spectacle headlined by supermodel Gisele Bundchen on Friday as a doom-laden Olympic build-up gave way to an energetic party atmosphere at the fabled Maracana stadium.
An overview of the fireworks over the Maracana stadium at the end of the opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 5. — AFP/VNA Photo
Marathon runner Vanderlei Cordeiro lit the cauldron after an exuberant show of Brazilian cultural touchstones and breathtaking pyrotechnics – and a compulsory burst of samba.
Cordeiro was a left-field but touching choice after he was famously attacked by a spectator while leading the 2004 Athens Olympics marathon late in the race.
Vietnamese delegation at the opening ceremony of the Olympics. — TV screenshot by baomoi.com
Spirits were high among the thousands of athletes, performers, fans and officials at the 78,000-capacity Maracana.
"The Olympic dream is now a wonderful reality. The best place in the world is here and now," said organising committee chief Carlos Nuzman, to rapturous applause.
Brazilian singer Paulinho da Viola sang the national anthem to set off the show of laser lights and elaborate dances highlighting Brazil’s history and rise as an emerging power.
Brazil’s Gisele Bundchen strutted across the arena to the iconic "Girl from Ipanema" before Greece, home of the ancient Olympics, led out the colourful athletes’ parade.
More than 10,000 athletes from 207 teams took part, with the biggest cheers reserved for the specially formed refugee team and the joyous Brazilian contingent.
Former Brazilian athlete Vanderlei Cordeiro prepares to light the Rio 2016 Olympic Cauldren during the opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 5. — AFP/VNA Photo
Iran’s flagbearer was wheelchair-bound Zahra Nemati, their first ever female flag-carrier who will compete in archery despite being paralysed in both legs.
Each athlete was presented with a seed and a cartridge of soil to enable them to plant a native tree of Brazil, which will ultimately form an "Athletes Forest" made up of 207 different species – one for each delegation.
"This is the moment of the ’maravilhosa cidade’ (marvellous city)," said International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.
"This first ever Olympic Games in South America will go from Brazil to the entire world."
Indigenous tribes and dueling dance groups were among the highlights of a show low on technology but high on invention.
But the overwhelming theme of the evening was protection of the environment.
An early opening sequence depicted the birth of life, culminating in the sprouting of a green entanglement of leaves from the stadium floor depicting the Amazon rainforest.
Indigenous Brazilians then performed native dances before creating huge "Ocas" or native huts in the center of the stage.
That gave way to an exuberant, joyous party which encompassed Brazil’s breathtakingly diverse musical and cultural traditions.
Friday’s ceremony lifts the curtain on a more than two-week sporting festival featuring superstars like Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt, as well as thousands more who will compete for 2,102 medals until August 21.
The first gold medal will be awarded on Saturday in shooting and all eyes will be on American swimming star Phelps, the most decorated Olympian in history, when he returns to the pool in the first week.
Track and field will see Jamaica’s Bolt aim to defend his 100m, 200m and 4x100m crowns by clinching all three for the third straight Games.
Gymnastics, meanwhile, could unearth a new heroine in America’s teenage star Simone Biles, while rugby and golf return to the Olympic programme after gaps of 92 years and 112 years respectively.
Việt Nam have 23 representatives who will take part in 10 sport in Rio.
Fencer Nguyễn Thị Như Hoa will be the first athlete to start the medal hunting campaign on the first day of competition, August 6 local time.
Hoa takes part in the women’s individual epee event. She will be against French Auriane Mallo in the first round match.
Hoa is the world No 37 while Mallo is No 28.
An hour later, judoka Văn Ngọc Tú will kick off her journey in the women’s 48kg category.
In her second Olympics, Tú will face Valentina Moscatt of Italy.
While Tú has not won a single title in the continental, Moscatt won 16 World Cup medals including gold at the PanAm Open Buenos Aires.
Marksmen Hoàng Xuân Vinh and Trần Quốc Cường will be the next Vietnamese athletes to shine.
They are shooting in the men’s 10m air pistol.
Vinh is one of the country’s medal hope as the World Cup winner ranked fourth at London Games four years ago.
Swimmer Nguyễn Thị Ánh Viên, the youngest member of the Team, will compete in the women’s 400m individual medley. She is expected to enter the final as it is her most favourable category among three that she will compete in Rio.
Gymnast Phạm Phước Hưng will then take part in the men’s parallel.
Vương Thị Huyền, a so-call ‘secret weapon’ of Việt Nam will end the day with her competition in the women’s 48kg weightlifting.
Việt Nam have had only two silvers in Olympic history. One is in weighlifting by Hoàng Anh Tuấn in Beijing Games in 2008 and another in taekwondo by Trần Hiếu Ngân in Sydney in 2000. – AFP/VNS