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Let the Games Begin! Olympics Opening Ceremony Kicks Off in Rio

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Clive Mason/Getty

The gave have begun!

Brazil’s own Gisele Bündchen helped open the 2016 Summer Olympics with a bang, Friday, stunning as she strutted across the Macarana Stadium in the role of the famous “Girl from Ipanema.”

Bündchen showed off her famous gams while she aided in showcasing Brazil’s culture from her lengthy final catwalk while Daniel Jobim sang.

During the starting moments of the show – which kicked off an hour before the U.S. broadcast on NBC – performers clad in silver and blue covered the LED floor of the arena as fireworks burst overhead. The elaborate dance routine played on the theme of “gambiarra,” which was described as “the Brazilian talent for making the most out of nothing” by the official Rio Twitter account.

About 10:30 p.m. eastern time, the Olympics were formally declared open. Shortly after, Brazilian Olympian Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima lit the cauldron – marking the start of the Rio games.

Fireworks explode during the Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games
Clive Mason/Getty
Brazilian marathoner Vanderlei de Lima lit the Olympic flame
AP Photo/Markus Schreiber

The cauldron was designed by an American sculptor
GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty

Following the performance of the Brazilian National Anthem by singer-songwriter, and native Paulinho da Viola, dancers portrayed important parts of the country’s history. The habitation of the rainforest scene was comprised of performers that are actual descendants of aborigines. Dancers created various pyramid and tree shapes with lighted strings.

The Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games
JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty

Another sequence featured psychedelic lights, and hip-hop and break dancers climbing and catapulting boxes while clad in all white.

Dame Judi Dench lent her voice to a special, emotional poem about global warming, which was accompanied by video of the Brazilian rainforests.

Grammy award-winning Brazilian musicians Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil also joined the other 4,800 performers and volunteers. Notably missing was Brazil’s most famous athlete, soccer player Pele, 75, who said Friday that poor health kept him from taking part in the opening ceremony.

There was also a giant dance-a-long, featuring Bündchen doing her best Taylor Swift-inspired moves.

Later, during the parade of the nations, the Independent Olympic team – which is comprised mostly of refugees – received a standing ovation. The countries marched in alphabetical order, based on the Portuguese spelling of their names.

Team Canada in all red
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
Team U.S.A. arrived with flag bearer Michael Phelps proudly leading the way in his light-up jacket.

There are actually two cauldrons present in Rio, both designed by American sculptor Anthony Howe: One, lit at the Maracana soccer stadium, the site of the opening ceremony, and the other in downtown Rio, which will be lit after the ceremony’s close.

The Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 05: Dancers perform during the Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Maracana Stadium on August 5, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Tonga flag bearer Pita Taufatofua
Paul Gilham/Getty
“Smile is the approach the Brazilians have toward life,” Marco Balich, the program’s executive producer, told the Associated Press before the ceremony, saying the display would indicate that “we are who we are, with a lot of social problems, a lot of crises in the political system, etc.”

Related Video: Gisele Bundchen will portray The ‘Girl From Ipanema’ in the Opening Ceremony


Those social problems were cause for protests outside of the luxurious Copacabana Palace, where athletes and some members of the press were staying for the games. Thousands of protesters decried the current Brazilian government and the thousands spent on the Olympics in place of basic infrastructure repairs.

The opening ceremony for the 2016 Summer Olympics
Charlie Riedel/AP
“It’s a very important event,” Vitor Guimaraes told NBC. “We hope the athletes have the best performance in their lives, but for us it’s a very bad moment to receive the Olympic Games because in Brazil everything is not okay.”

To learn more about all Olympic hopefuls, visit teamusa.org. The Rio Olympics begin Friday on NBC.

Reporting by LINDSAY KIMBLE