Rio Olympics Opening Ceremony Liveblog

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It may not seem like the gargantuan Olympic festivities in London were four years ago, but just one day after West Ham, the new tenants, played their first game in Stratford’s Olympic Stadium, the Olympic circus is jumping back to life. Though the sport is technically already under way – group stage football encounters began on Wednesday – the action proper kicks off with the opening ceremony tonight at Rio’s Maracanã Stadium from 8pm local time (midnight UK time) and we’ll be bringing all you all the best bits right here.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 5, 201610:36 pm

Hello there! You’re a little bit early, but we’ll forgive your excitement. Join us from midnight if you’re in the UK, 8pm if you’re in Rio, or [INSERT TIME] in your local time zone as we break down every inevitable absurdity from the ceremony.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 5, 201611:14 pm

If every other Olympic opening ceremony of recent times is anything to go by, tonight will have a strong focus on the rich cultural output of the host nation. Though what it’ll contain remains shrouded in mystery, our friends at The Edge recently had a think about which music acts they’d like to see take the stage. Check out their feature while we wait for Question of Sport to finish.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 5, 201611:16 pm

Come on, how great would CSS be in front of an audience of (potentially) billions?

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 5, 201611:40 pm

Good news, everyone! Phil Tufnell and friends have finally left our screens, and it’s time for Clare Balding’s dramatic monologue over a picture of Christ The Redeemer.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 5, 201611:43 pm

Steve Redgrave and Michael Johnson join her in their finest check patterns to discuss who will light the cauldron. Will it be Pele? Probably not, it seems.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 5, 201611:47 pm

Zika. State-sponsored doping. Political turmoil. Unfinished facilities. Polluted water.

There’s a fair bit obstructing Rio’s way to success with these games. Let’s hope the opening is as good as the dramatic narration that only Eddie Butler can provide.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 5, 201611:49 pm

I’ve not been paying enough attention to this sequence to know entirely what it was all about but Butler’s voice really is lovely.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 5, 201611:54 pm

“I’m sure it’ll be a night I’ll never forget.”

Andy Murray, delightfully plain-talking as ever, on his impending run with the flag in front of 365 other athletes in Team GB.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:01 am

We begin with people swimming and skateboarding and generally sportily writhing from above. It all looks a bit sunny.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:02 am

This is a good use of drone footage.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:04 am

Inside the Maracanã now for some folks to create lovely patterns with sheets of metallic material, although this seems to be a precursor to the main ceremony as a numerical countdown is projected onto them.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:05 am

Fireworks! They’re even spelling out the name of the city.

*everybody take a shot*

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:09 am

Our first dose of music – the national anthem of Brazil – comes from a little string ensemble fronted by a man in a blue suit with an acoustic guitar who forgot to bring a tie. Flag-clad children crowd the flagpole as uniformed military men pray they put the thing up the right way up.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:10 am

The illuminated section of the Maracanã’s floor is very bizarrely shaped. At first with all those shiny scales, it looked a bit like a fish shape. Now, it’s a screen for wobbling microbes and War Horse-esque puppetry.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:14 am

It seems Brazil has run out of trees. Tonight’s depiction of forestry looks like a bunch of lasers that actually seem to be strings being guided around by silhouettes.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:15 am

Waiting for confirmation of this being the world’s largest and most interesting maypole dance.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:17 am

The explorers are here, though their boats can’t help it if they’re tilted – they’re only metal frames that someone forgot to add bodywork to.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:19 am

Tree visions become sugar cane plantations and agricultural art as the forced migration from Africa is recognised.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:21 am

Still lots of wireframing going on, as Japanese immigrants dance around with ineffective hats.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:23 am

Parkour alert! It all gets a bit Mirror’s Edge-ish as projections of growing skylines paint an excellent illusion of everything becoming a bit dangerous for the red jumpers.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:25 am

Acrobats and climbers are dressed as construction workers, scaling buildings designed for people a third of their height.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:26 am

Now they’ve stopped jumping around to build a wall that doesn’t look at all flimsy. Honest.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:28 am

An early plane flies away into the realm of suspicious CGI. Christ The Redeemer himself gets a little cameo amidst the swooping nighttime imagery.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:31 am

Our first living celebrity appearance is catwalk-less stroll across the pitch for Gisele Bündchen. She gets to the other side to be received by bright colours and contemporary dancing.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:31 am

MY EYES.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:33 am

The vision now is the kind of blend of fluorescent tones in geometric patterns that would delight lovers of rave Tetris, which is a thing that definitely should exist.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:34 am

Another thing that should exist is a decent sound output from the various singers’ microphones. All I can make out is Andrew Cotter trying to tell us who it is we can’t comprehend.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:37 am

Capoeira, the “world heritage phenomenon,” is swept aside for more pyrotechnical wizardry. This time, it’s fire dancing.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:39 am

Not content with fuzzy audio, flashing lights and mass dancing creates a muddled visual too. Excellent.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:40 am

Just spotted an Ozzy Osbourne impersonator with a body-length silver wig. He’s a human pompom.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:41 am

This is all a bit Butlins-gone-wild.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:45 am

Some chap with a backpack has just wandered into the centre of the stadium. They’ve cut to a visualisation of growing carbon dioxide emissions and some rather attractive infographics on global warming.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:45 am

There’s also an English narration to it to teach us all about Amsterdam’s impending doom, but again it’s almost impossible to tell what is being said with the echoing and the silence.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:47 am

Backpack Man found a plant. Could they not clear the floor before the ceremony?

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:48 am

Judi Dench has started talking, or at least that’s how it seems to my uncultured ears. A tape of plants being planted in slow motion accompanies.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:50 am

Ooh, the English reader of that poem was indeed Dame Judi.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:51 am

Apparently we’re at athlete time already. It’s French announcement time.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:52 am

Greece is led out by a wonderful green bicycle with a rotating sign bearing the nation’s name. Hazel Irvine talks about the Greek debt crisis.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:52 am

Afghanistan’s flag bearer looks determined. Some in his wake wave two flags in one hand.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:53 am

South Africa brought its finest discount tracksuits for the occasion.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:54 am

Germany’s Timo Boll was picked to wave their flag in a public vote. Ich stimme mit euch, Deutschland. Wir lieben Tischtennis.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:55 am

The first time I’ve legitimately used A-level German skills in a year, there.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:56 am

Angolan outfits are so beige I’d expect the New Zealand cricket team to break out a game of Twenty20 in them. I love it.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:57 am

Hadn’t noticed this until a moment ago, but each country’s flagbearer seems to be accompanied by a small child with a sprig of greenery in a tall pot. Are they planning to replant the Maracanã pitch once the night is out?

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 201612:59 am

Armenia’s bicycle guy looked like an emotional Chris Woakes. Since he’s become the true -kes superhero of English cricket in the past few weeks, my advice is to bet all your life savings on them being great.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20161:01 am

Austria’s child has the most forced grin of the evening.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20161:02 am

2016 Summer Olympics or 2012 Eurovision Song Contest: if you were a country, which would you rather host?

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20161:02 am

For me, definitely Eurovision. You won the real prize, Azerbaijan.

avatar Carly-May Kavanagh August 6, 20161:04 am

I’M FINALLY HERE. As is the… Boring part of the opening ceremony.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20161:05 am

Welcome, Carly-May! The Belarus side came right out of Topshop to say hello.

avatar Carly-May Kavanagh August 6, 20161:06 am

Thoughts so far: why giant cheese graters? Why do Australia look like they’re in private school? Could Rio 2016 actually be more hipster than I am? *sips indie coffee while wearing dungarees*

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20161:06 am

Belize, whose delegation I had previously been promised would contain LEAVE.EU’s Arron Banks, passes in a flash. *grumblegrumble*

avatar Carly-May Kavanagh August 6, 20161:07 am

No sudden movements when Russia come out.

avatar Carly-May Kavanagh August 6, 20161:07 am

voteleavetakecontrol you mean, Xav?

avatar Carly-May Kavanagh August 6, 20161:08 am

ARE BERMUDA WEARING BERMUDA SHORTS?!

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20161:08 am

Will there even be anyone left in the Russian colours? Apart from France, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Australia, New Zealand, and Great Britain, of course.

avatar Carly-May Kavanagh August 6, 20161:09 am

The theme so far seems to be ‘LOOK WE CAN USE DRONES!’

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20161:09 am

Bermudan sport will never top Dwayne Leverock’s catch in the 2007 Cricket World Cup.

avatar Carly-May Kavanagh August 6, 20161:10 am

First Rio event: speed space blanket folding. The Russians will love it I’m sure.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20161:10 am

If you think this is droning on, you should have seen the intro.

avatar Carly-May Kavanagh August 6, 20161:12 am

This must be where The Hunger Games got its inspiration.

avatar Carly-May Kavanagh August 6, 20161:13 am

Yeah you plant that seed.

Think of how strong the Tinder game must be in Rio right now.
avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20161:15 am

“If international banking were in the games, [the Cayman Islands would] be right in the hunt for medals.”

That’s it, I’m launching a petition to ban Andrew Cotter.
avatar Carly-May Kavanagh August 6, 20161:15 am

The BBC commentary is ALL STEREOTYPES.

Cameroon for best dressed.
avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20161:16 am

We need to give out a few awards to break the tedium of the parade of nations. First up, Chad: the most likely nation to pass as one man who doesn’t sound like he should be there.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20161:19 am

Cyprus has what looks like the first selfie stick I’ve actually spotted. MAKE IT STOP.

avatar Carly-May Kavanagh August 6, 20161:19 am

Award giving gives me MUN flashbacks Xav you are not best delegate.

avatar Carly-May Kavanagh August 6, 20161:19 am

I thought Rio banned selfie sticks from the Olympics?

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20161:22 am

Surely when you’re an athlete you can do what you want. Then again, they should all be stopped from using their phones whilst walking out because it looks silly and there are perfectly good photographers out there.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20161:23 am

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20161:23 am

Those trikes are my new favourite thing.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20161:25 am

Dinamarca: Best translation of a Scandinavian country’s name into Portuguese.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20161:27 am

How exactly does one go about becoming a ceremonial tricyclist?

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20161:35 am

Here comes the Estados Unidos, who NBC wanted to push back from their Portuguese running order slot to keep people watching despite broadcasting the ceremony on an hour delay and with all possible ad breaks.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20161:38 am

This ceremony needs more cricket.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20161:38 am

Or maybe I just need more sugar.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20161:41 am

As if by magic, Cotter talks about the French medalling in the cricket in 1900.

You can stay.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20161:44 am

Grandma, having been woken up by my hunt for yogurt: “There was a chap playing the guitar at the beginning.”

Me: “Oh yes, the one playing the anthem.”

Grandma: “It was awful.”

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20161:45 am

Yes, I happened to go on a yogurt search right as the British strode out in their lovely coats.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20161:47 am

Honduras: most prepared for their signage trike not actually having the correct spelling of their name.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20161:51 am

Iran: best flagbearer, choosing an archer in a wheelchair who has also qualified for the Paralympics.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20161:54 am

Carly-May seems to be awake but silent: this just appeared in our message thread without context.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20161:54 am

Liberia, even though we’re not quite there yet: best county flag system

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20161:56 am

Japaõ: most onomatopoeic Portuguese translation

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20161:57 am

Kiribati: most exuberant flagbearer who in all likelihood will stumble over through dizziness when out of shot.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20162:03 am

Frank Ocean: most unreleased album.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20162:08 am

Monaco: easiest to confuse with Poland if you’re not listening.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20162:10 am

Xavier Voigt-Hill: silliest person for committing to liveblogging the opening ceremony even though he knows just how slow the parade can be.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20162:12 am

These Olympics will be so much better when we’re actually watching people fall over in the BMX races. All Olympic events should be replaced by BMX races. It’d be like You’ve Been Framed with people at the height of their physical capabilities.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20162:15 am

Look at these fancy coats. If it wasn’t for the shorts, I’d fully approve.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20162:21 am

Portugal: worst scarves. Seriously, why is blue smudged onto each end of their flag?

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20162:34 am

Syrian Arab Republic: best arm gestures from trike rider.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20162:35 am

Suécia: best gold medal costumes designed by H&M.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20162:35 am

Switzerland: most noticeable lack of Roger Federer.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20162:38 am

Chinese Taipei: most turquoise.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20162:40 am

Timor-Leste: smiliest flagbearer.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20162:41 am

Tonga: oiliest flagbearer.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20162:41 am

Seriously.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20162:41 am

He was oily.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20162:47 am

Uruguai: most unnecessary translation.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20162:48 am

What’s the value per barrel for this guy?

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20162:50 am

British Virgin Islands: most likely to remind you that Iyaz exists.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20162:51 am

Refugee Olympic Team: biggest cheer.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20162:51 am

Also best dancing athlete with a tiny flag.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20162:52 am

Brazil: most alphabetically out-of-place.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20162:57 am

It’s been almost three hours. Finally we have mirrored cabinets coated in fingerprints being wheeled around with seeds/cheese graters on the sides.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20162:59 am

It’s tree time: the interlocking rings of the Olympics are constructed in tree form and then turn into confetti cannons. As you do.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20163:11 am

“It’s my pleasure to hand over to…Thomas Bach, who has always believed in the sex.”

A successful trilingual speech and he fluffs up in the last line.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20163:22 am

Kip Keino of Kenya is awarded the Olympic laurel. He jogs in trailed by children as Cotter and Irvine return from their 20 minute silence through the IOC/host nation speeches.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20163:28 am

Keino is the first recipient of the award, which will be given at every subsequent opening ceremony “to those with achievements in education, culture, development and peace through sport.”

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20163:28 am

And now the Brazilian head of government or lack thereof has declared the games open. It’s time to bring the flag in and set this place on fire.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20163:35 am

Robert Scheidt takes the Olympic oath for all the athletes. The flag is hoisted. The end is, mercifully, in sight.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20163:39 am

Oops, maybe not. A carnival has broken out.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20163:44 am

Now singing: a Brazilian Bob Geldof.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20163:45 am

Just when you think this ceremony might, after 4 hours, be nearly finished, it finds away to add more drumming as skimpily-dressed people parade bright colours through.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20163:46 am

I see fire! Inside the Maracanã.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20163:47 am

I see fire! Burning with Guga.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20163:47 am

I see fiiiiiiiiire! Spun round in circles.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20163:48 am

I see fiiiiiiiiiiiiiire! Lighting the scene.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20163:49 am

And I hope we’re almost done with he (who actually lit the cauldron).

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20163:51 am

Our flame is, of course, a restrained non-gas-guzzler, though it looks quite snazzy in a sculpture of shimmering spirals

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20163:55 am

Whilst the organisers exercise their right to wake up an entire continent with eruptions of light and fireworks, it is time for us to bid farewell.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20164:06 am

With 235 minutes of ecological consciousness, national diversity, shimmering blankets, cheese-grating seed racks, projected parkour, comedic tricycle decorations, selfie stick-wrangling, garish colours, panoramic drone shots, inaudible stadium microphones, dodgy hats, oily Tongans, trilingual monologues, and wind-powered fire now out of the way, the 31st modern Olympic games are now under way. Thank you for joining us through this late-night rambling, and we’ll see you very soon live from almost-Rio to bring you the best of the actual sport that now may begin.

avatar Xavier Voigt-Hill August 6, 20161:01 pm

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Web Science student, cricket obsessive, and Oxford comma enthusiast. Usually found writing about and playing music at The Edge and Surge Radio.

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