The 2016 Olympic Games were formally opened in a colourful and pulsating ceremony at Rio’s Maracana stadium.
Broadcast to an estimated audience of three billion, the ceremony celebrated Brazil’s history and natural beauty, before former marathon runner Vanderlei de Lima lit the Olympic cauldron.
Wimbledon champion Andy Murray led the British team into the arena, while table tennis star, Funke Oshinaike did the honours for Team Nigeria.
The build-up to Rio 2016 has been played out against a deep recession and political protests in Brazil.
The Games, the first to be held in South America, have also been disrupted by concerns over the Russian doping scandal, the Zika virus and problems with the city’s security, infrastructure and venues.
But organisers will hope the focus can now shift to the action in 28 sports, with 207 teams, after the Games of the 31st Olympiad were officially opened.
The cauldron was lit by De Lima, who won bronze for Brazil in the marathon at the 2004 Games after he was grappled by a spectator while leading the race.
Football legend Pele had ruled himself out of performing the role saying he was not in the right “physical condition”.
With Brazil’s economy struggling, the budget for the opening ceremony was thought to be considerably less than the £30m spent on London 2012’s extravagant display.
And while Rio’s event did not match the enormous ambition of the ceremony directed by Danny Boyle four years ago, the Maracana crowd were treated to a show that mixed light displays, fireworks, dancing and music, reports the BBC.
After a simple but emotional rendition of the Brazilian national anthem, sung and played on acoustic guitar by singer-songwriter Paulinho da Viola, video projections beamed on to the floor of the stadium explored the history of the nation.
Starting with images of micro-organisms dividing and giant sculptures of microbes – representing the beginning of life – the ceremony showed the contributions made by the nation’s indigenous peoples, by Portuguese explorers, by African slaves and by Japanese immigrants to Brazil’s history and culture.
Performers strode across projections of giant buildings, symbolising the cities of Brazil, and a recreation of a 14-bis biplane – the invention of Brazilian Alberto Santos-Dumont, which first flew in 1906 – drew one of the biggest cheers of the evening as it flew out of the arena.