There were magical scenes at Rio’s Maracana Stadium as the first Olympic Games ever held in South America officially got underway on Friday.
A rapturous reception greeted athletes from the host nation at an opening ceremony celebrating Brazil’s history, environment, and culture.
The show drew homegrown stars, like supermodel Gisele Bundchen, who walked across the stadium to the sound of bossa nova hit “Girl from Ipanema”.
Home to the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest, Brazil called on the 3 billion people watching the opening of the world’s premiere sporting event to take care of the planet, plant seeds and protect the verdant land that Europeans found there five centuries ago.
Russia’s team – reduced in number amid doping allegations – proudly took its place in the parade of competitors which included the first Refugee team in Olympic history.
The Olympic cauldron was lit by Brazilian former long-distance runner Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima.
A marathon bronze medal winner in Athens in 2004, he has been held up as a model sportsman after refusing to give up when a protester attacked him in that race, slowing him from first to third.
For all its sparkle, financial constraints meant the Rio opening ceremony was not as high-tech or spectacular as London’s show in 2012.
But Brazil’s creative energy and infectious rhythms are unbeatable and celebrations spread to the streets around the stadium.
“It feels amazing. Honestly, I love being in Rio. I love being In Brazil. I love this country. I love it here. The energy is amazing,” said US tourist Iain Siemen.
A second Olympic cauldron was lit in the Candelaria area of Rio – scene of a notorious child massacre in the 1990s when police opened fire on youngsters sleeping rough.
A teenage budding athlete performed the honours in Candelaria, lighting the cauldron, in a moment he, his neighbourhood and country will never forget.
It's lit 🔥— Rio 2016 (@Rio2016_en) 6 août 2016
📍 Candelária Church pic.twitter.com/6NZdjXnpkS