Amid the irresistible vibe of samba and an explosion of sounds and colours at the mythical Maracana Stadium on Sunday, Olympians and fans said goodbye as the curtain fell on the Rio Games.
The rains and strong winds couldn’t deter Cariocas – as Rio residents are known – and thousands of visitors from around the globe from throwing one final big bash to close out a 16-day fiesta that has both been gripping and insane.
The stadium erupted in applause when International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, declared: “These were marvelous Olympic Games in the ‘marvelous city,” and there were boos of disappointment moments later when he announced: “I declare the Games of the XXXI Olympiad closed.”
While the closing ceremony was also meant to signify the transition to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan, Sunday’s party was unmistakably all about Brazil – its culture, its history.
The ceremony featured original footage of Alberto Santos Dumont, the man that Brazilians recognize as the inventor of the airplane, and the theme, “Brazilians can do with their bare hands,” touched on the emerging economy of the world’s fifth most populous nation.
Samba legend Martinho da Vila, whose tunes make their way into many popular telenovelas, spiced the night with a rendition of “Carinhoso,” or “Affectionate.”
Olympians poured in under light rain, waving their flags while many shook their bodies to samba-infused pop that made the stadium feel like a Carnival parade.
The 31st Olympiad had many memorable moments, not least of which was the sweet payback for hosts Brazil who downed Germany for football gold two years after a 7-1 World Cup semi-final humiliation in their backyard.
American swimmer Michael Phelps added five golds to up his staggering total to 23 and the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, lit up proceedings yet again with a ‘triple triple’ as he bows out of the Games.
Nigeria became the first African side to claim all medals in Olympic football after their 3-2 win over Honduras in the bronze medal match, while Cheick Cisse won Ivory Coast’s first ever Olympic gold following his victory in Taekwando.
But there were also ugly scenes like the fabricated mugging story by American swimmer Ryan Lochte’s, and the messy state of the Olympic diving pools.
Despite the uncertainty that surrounded the buildup to the Games with fears of Zika virus and the widespread doping scandal, Brazilians showed the world they know how to party.