Rio Games kicks off with stunning ceremony

 
Helen Cahill
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Fireworks Explode Over Rio's Maracana Stadium During The 2016 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony
Brazil put on a lavish show for the world as the games began (Source: Getty)

Rio 2016 opened with a bang last night as fireworks flew from the Maracana stadium in a ceremony that featured supermodel Gisele Bündchen, former marathon runner Vanderlei de Lima, and Andy Murray leading Britain's athletes into the arena.

Brazil shrugged off criticism that it wasn't ready for the games after months of concern about political protests, the Russian doping scandal and the Zika virus.

Billions of spectators around the world - and tens of thousands in the stadium itself - watched as the proud sporting nation showed off its exuberance and creativity.

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The ceremony, put together by City of God director Fernando Meirelles, celebrated Brazil's culture and history with fireworks, samba dancers and carnival revellers all on a budget significantly less than the £30m spent by Danny Boyle for the opening ceremony of London 2012.

Budget cuts limited the amount Meirelles could spend, but all of the performers - numbering 4,800 - agreed to take part in the four hour event for free.

The games, which are coming to South America for the first time, will play host to 28 sports, with 207 teams competing - including one team of refugees.

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