Olympic Games Rio 2016 kicks off this Friday with a spectacular opening ceremony at the iconic Maracanã stadium. Rio is a city famous for its carnival parades, so expectations are high for the event that launches 16 days of athletic endeavour.
It is no surprise that samba features prominently, with samba singer Elza Soares one of the stars of the show. The event is directed Fernando Meirelles (known for his film City of God), as well as fellow film directors Andrucha Washington and Daniela Thomas.
Other musicians set to appear include 12-year-old rapper MC Soffia, hip hop artist Karol Conka, singers Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso, as well as pop stars Ludmilla and Anitta.
‘I think it’s great we don’t just have superstars in the ceremony. We have popular culture as well,’ said Meirelles. ‘It was Caetano’s idea to have Anitta, he considers her a great singer. We were really impressed by her, she has an amazing technique and her delivery is beautiful.’
Inclusion and diversity are key themes for the ceremony, with racism and social separation recurring problems in Brazil’s history. Three of the main performers are Black women (MC Soffia, Konka and Soares), something that Meirelles said sends an important message.
Model Lea T will also take part in the ceremony, becoming the first transgender person to feature in an Olympic opening event.
‘The message will be clear: inclusion. All of us, independent of gender, sexual orientation, colour, race or creed, are all human beings and are part of this society,’ said Lea T in an interview with BBC Brazil. ‘My role in the ceremony is tiny but will be significant for representation, and will help to transmit this message of inclusion.’
The opening ceremony begins at 8pm local time, with the live broadcast expected to be seen by as many as three billion people worldwide.