The 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro have kicked off in style, with a spectacular opening ceremony at the city’s Maracanã stadium. After months of speculation, the design of the two Olympic cauldrons was revealed, with one ‘public’ cauldron at the Praça Mauá (Plaza Maua) area near Candelária Church (as I wrote in June), and a larger ‘ceremonial’ cauldron in the stadium.
The ‘ceremonial’ cauldron in the Maracanã stadium was lit by Brazilian marathon runner Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima. For non-athletics enthusiasts, Cordeiro may be best remembered as the unfortunate runner who was attacked by a crazed spectator as he completed the 2004 event in Athens. Cordeiro stood in for football legend Pele, whose ill health prevented him from taking part.
The simple ball-like cauldron then rose, seemingly by itself, to rest in the centre of a dramatic kinetic sculpture. Designed by artist Anthony Howe, the wind-powered structure twists and spirals to represent a blazing sun.
Meanwhile the ‘public’ cauldron in Plaza Maua follows a similar design, but with a more abstract, colourful, arty makeover. The two cauldrons, but particularly the first one, are designed to reflect our spiralling lives, and raise awareness about the fragility of our natural environment.
The Olympics Games will continue over the next 16 days, culminating in the closing ceremony at the Maracanã stadium on the 21st August.