Rio Roundup: Day One, Part One
Opening Ceremony dazzles and comes with plenty of pizazz for all to savor
We did not see NBC expecting to cover a ceremony lasting nearly 4 1/2 hours. But for those of you who sat through the Parade of Nations, I give major kudos to everyone.
Here were my highlights from beginning to end:
Paulino da Viola did a nice version of performing Brazil’s National Anthem. By the time birds were flying around, Matt Lauer commented on the NBC broadcast that if the Amazon River was habitable, it would be “the ninth largest country in the world.”
With Brazil being the fifth largest country, things could get very interesting going forward.
As for the rest of Friday’s ceremony at legendary Maracana Stadium:
- Very intricate patterns were used to recall Brazil’s beginnings, around 1500.
- By the time the African slaves were depicted, there was a scene where there many people tossing around material squares (basically are empty white blocks). They would form three long rows before they would be knocked off like a bowling ball meeting pins 60 feet down the lane. I wonder why that was the case. Hopefully, one of my MPB’s will give us some insight on why that happened.
- Supermodel Gisele Bundchen walked the longest runway of her life. The 36 year old retired from full-time modeling in 2015, largely to keep her suspended husband, embattled New England Patriots and 3 time Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady in check. She carried herself with grace, dignity, and lots of hometown pride as the early 1960’s samba classic “The Girl From Ipanema” played with a B&W image of Antonio Carlos Jobim projected at one end of the stadium.
And yes, this image of her with over three billion people watching both on television and on smartphones is simply breathless:
What I also found interesting during portions of the coverage was hearing a few taped comments from Daniela Thomas. I was immediately struck by her mentioning of the “endless creativity” that the Brazilian people did to put most of their struggles aside fo this very special occasion.
On a spectacular 72 degree night and one day after lots of rain pelted the soccer venues, this was a truly welcome sight for the over 10,000 athletes that paraded in through the center of the stadium.
Unlike Olympics past, when the athletes would parade around the track and form blocks to where they would stand for the rest of the ceremony–they mostly formed behind a line of tropical shirted volunteers (over 4,800 to be precise were on hand).
Continuing on with my brief highlights:
- Regina Case had a nice speech, as the reigning “Queen of Pop Culture” ala the Oprah Winfrey of Brazil if there ever was one.
- Even Alberto Santos-Dumont tried to present his case as the first major person to fly solo, whereas the Wright Brothers in 1903 had no witnesses. Where are the history books that say that?
- And yes, Gisele Bundchen can truly dance with the best of them–as a major party was definitely going on by the time the second hour of the program started up.
- It was really nice and different to see various Brazilian ladies showing off the different countries while riding bicycles and little girls showing off the plants of which the first seeds will be planted throughout Rio to showcase the city’s love of all things green. Over 10,000 trees will sprout before the next Olympics kick off in Tokyo, Japan come 2020.
- The holding area mostly stayed firm until the host nation arrived. After the first ten individuals representing the groundbreaking Refugee Olympic Team drew a nice ovation–then, the real samba party began.
- And yes, Brazil’s contingent simply rocked the house, although I felt at times I was hoping that Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira would have spoken a bit more about some of the acts being performed and some of the countries and their current role in the world–Russia’s doping scandal notwithstanding since their wrestlers and weightlifters will be seeing these Games from the couch instead of actively participating.
Think Globally, Act Globally
The overall theme on Friday night was inclusion. I guess I can safely say my message from Wednesday rang true. So far, so good.
Other countries that gave us WOW moments before and after the United States sent a record 565 athletes (392 of them women), including 264 first-time Olympians to the world stage included:
- Columbia, where Hoda Kotb singled them out during the broadcast by saluting their flag bearer winning the vote when the entire nation texted their choices. I wonder if this will be the way each nation will vote in the future.
- Portugal, was that a Natalie Morales lookalike smiling at the camera?
- Tonga, check out that flag bearer with those abs! I bet all of the women had their hearts beating 1,000 times per second after seeing that muscle man named Pita Nikolas parade into the stadium. And he was fully lubed too (sure hope most of the young kids were sound asleep by the time that portion of the Parade of Nations aired).
- And yes, there were tons of athletes using their smartphones to capture the moments–and some even had carefully brought in some selfie sticks for all the world to see.
By the time over 2/3 of the volunteers had to push several thousand athletes back a few feet to make way for those silver shimmering buildings (which nearly blinded me, just fyi)–they sprouted in true Brazilian form to show off lots of trees which in turn led to fireworks resembling that of the five Olympic rings.
It was also very cool having the cameras pan over to the left side of the famous Christ the Redeemer statue, all lit in Brazil’s national colors of yellow and green as the fireworks went off in the distance.
Finally, a nice samba party ensued briefly as veteran jazz legends Caetano Veloso teamed up with Gilberto Gil and a 23 year old Brazilian pop sensation named Anitta to do a a few classic samba tunes. The best one was the version of Ary Barroso which asks, “This here, what is it”? According to the Rio2016 Olympics website, it explained briefly in their live blog that “The music celebrates the joy of Brazilians as well as people ‘who are not afraid of fire and never give up.’”
Overall, an amazing show by a spectacular group of people.
Full plate to begin the Games of the XXXI Olympiad
Everyone knows what will be coming up in prime time.
My focus will be on these events for Saturday:
Women begin at 10 a.m. Eastern time, with the men to follow at 3 p.m.
Noon will feature the debut of Team USA at noon on NBCSN.
The most iconic venue to host the sport at Copacabana Beach will be a true sight for any sore eye (sorry Gisele Bundchen), as Agatha and Barbara kick off at 2:30 p.m., while the American men’s hopes rest on Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson to air about one hour later over the air on NBC (3:30 p.m. Eastern time).
The women will get things spiked up at around 2 p.m. with the two-time defending gold medalists from Brazil taking on Cameroon, while the Americans will play their opening match against Puerto Rico at around 4:15 p.m. on NBC.
One of the glamour sports will kick off on NBCSN and the Basketball Channel (for certain cable systems only at 1:15 p.m. as Tony Parker will lead France vs. Austria. Team USA will start out play at 6 p.m. against, you guessed it–China, the same team they have dispatched by at least 50 points in their two exhibition matches held in NBA arenas late last month.
Sure hope and pray that each of the events go smoothly. Enjoy the Games, everybody!
My plan is to blog at least once in the early evening, and at most twice per day depending on how interesting the action is during the day.
But I will close out this very special blog with my favorite commercials:
Missy Franklin, Kerri Walsh-Jennings, and other Olympians interrupting your typical airline wait. Nice to see Gabby Douglas practicing on the parallel bar while nervous passengers stand in line to get their boarding passes and Carli Lloyd kicking a soccer ball into the luggage compartment. Meanwhile, the synchronized swimmers practiced their routines on the plane–all for United Airlines:
Enterprise Rent-A-Car showing off each car literally coming off the lot. First was a truck dispatching a truck, then a car, then another car rolled off into the street–all with Joel McHale firmly in tow riding around in the Mojave Desert. Thanks to virtual reality, a few more cars followed:
You definitely will not see CBS, TBS, TNT, or even TruTV showcase that type of ad during the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament each and every March–way too over the top for one of the most archaic organizations outside of the IOC to still exist today.
An interesting day turned into a mostly exhausting night.
See you all on Saturday. Enjoy your day.