The Rio Olympics Opening Ceremony Shuts Down These Criticisms Of The Country

Rio's opening ceremony kicked off on Friday night in a celebration of the city's culture. The 2016 Olympic Games is the first year ever that the Olympics have been hosted in a South American country, and many were concerned leading up to Friday night's ceremony that Rio wouldn't be ready for the opening events. Some questioned whether the city had the funds to put on a grand show during the ceremony, noting that it would be smaller scale that the 2012 London Olympics. But whether they had the funds or not, Rio's opening ceremony was a beautiful contrast to the financial and organizational problems leading up to this year's games.

As Brazil suffers its worst recession in 86 years, Marco Balich, the executive producer of the event, told Voice of America, "This is not an opulent event given the situation in Brazil. ... It does not have the grandiosity of Beijing, the huge special effects of Athens, the eccentricity and technological skills of London."

However, the opening events were beautifully executed by Brazilian filmmaker Fernando Meirelles, who served as the ceremony's creative director. Meirelles put on a spectacular show on a tight budget that included lights, dancers, acrobats, fireworks, and music, to tell a story about Brazil's history and culture.

Some of the themes of the night included sustainability, namely environmentalism and the threats of climate change and deforestation as the event shared some amazing imagery and lighting to recreate the feel of nature and the rain forest. The ceremony also produced a performance recounting Brazil's history of slavery and Portuguese colonialism.

The event told the story of the country's urbanization and economic disparities, as the country currently struggles to grapple with a financial crisis that led to an unemployment rate of 11 percent earlier this year. Given the current political, social, and economic climate of the country, it was important to share these stories during the ceremony.

However, even in the midst of struggle, the event shared the country's vibrant culture of dance and music through songs, drumming, dance performances, and colorful costumes. Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen even came out of retirement to make an appearance at the event, where she glided across the stage with grace and a smile.

The ceremony was bigger and better than what some may have imagined and was an important and necessary piece of Rio's hosting the 2016 Games.