Daily Briefing

Olympic opening ceremony: Watch out for Donald Trump and Gisele Bundchen

The Games are finally here, but what can we expect from a cut-price opening ceremony in Rio?

After a troubled build-up, the 2016 Olympic Games finally get underway this evening with an opening ceremony at the Maracana Stadium in Rio.

But after the Danny Boyle spectacular ahead of London 2012, featuring James Bond, the Queen, Sir Paul McCartney, Tim Berners-Lee and Mr Bean, what will the Brazilians serve up?

Something rather more cut-price appears to be the answer.

"Olympic organisers invoked the spirit of cult 1980s television show MacGyver to describe their attempts to make Rio's bargain-bucket opening ceremony live up to the memory of its predecessors," says The Guardian.

The paper describes it as a "pared-down if not cobbled-together effort that has been produced for a fraction of the cost of Danny Boyle’s London 2012 extravaganza or China’s drummer-laden display of state muscle in 2008".

Here is what you need to know ahead of the ceremony:

What time does it start?

The show begins at 8pm on Friday local time, which is midnight in the UK. The whole event is expected to last three to four hours.

Is it on TV?

Of course, and it is expected to be watched by three billion people worldwide. The BBC coverage starts at 11.35pm and will be presented by Clare Balding. It will also be available on BBC iPlayer.

What can we expect?

A show "that gives an honest and open view of Brazil - the good and the bad", says the Daily Telegraph.

"Its three themes will be ecology, diversity and joy, and organisers have tried to manage expectations by saying it will be 'cool' but not as grand as London or Beijing’s. The budget was just £3m, around one tenth of the cost of the London 2012 opener."

There will be 5,000 volunteers, 500 musicians and 200 professional dancers, says the Daily Mail. "The three hour spectacle will feature Brazilian music, including the samba and drumming made famous by Rio de Janeiro's Carnival celebrations, and all artists agreed to perform without pay."

However, the atmosphere may be a little subdued, says the Telegraph. "No carnival floats or other large props will be used in the ceremony because the gates of the stadium are too low and too narrow. There will be no stage, meaning everything will be at ground level."

Any celebrities?

Supermodel Gisele Bundchen is rumoured to be involved. It has been claimed she will be mugged as part of the show and that the robbery will begin a chase sequence around the stadium.

On a more sedate note, Dame Judi Dench will read a poem alongside 86-year-old Oscar-nominated actress Fernanda Montenegro.

Musicians Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil will also make an appearance.

Anything else to look out for?

The appearance of interim president Michel Temer could be interesting. "His government is unpopular after a huge economical downturn and heckling is expected as well as anti government demonstrations outside the Maracana Stadium," says the Mail. There are plans in place to drown out any booing with loud music.

Another controversial politician could feature, with the ceremony expected to include references to US presidential candidate Donald Trump – and a mention of Brexit has also been mooted.

Creative director Fernando Meirelles told the Telegraph he wanted to promote tolerance. "The world is very tense," he said. "The political situation here is tense, you have Trump, in England with Brexit, and the solution comes through tolerance."

Who will light the flame?

The obvious choice is Brazilian footballing legend Pele, but he has not yet been confirmed. His health and business interests have put his participation in doubt, but it would be surprise if it were anyone else

What about the athletes?

There are more than 10,000 taking part and all those entering the stadium will be handed a tube of soil and a seedling, which will be planted in Brazil after the Games to form an Olympic forest.

Andy Murray will carry the Team GB flag, while the biggest cheer of the night may be reserved for the ten-strong team of refugees.


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