There were loud cheers for the Spanish and British teams with the popular tennis duo of Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray, both multiple-time Grand Slam champions, leading their respective countries on to the pitch holding aloft their national flags.
A 60-member Jamaica contingent walked into the pitch without its biggest star and champion sprinter Usain Bolt as the athletes were seen waving flags and blowing kisses.
Led by the most-decorated Olympian ever, swimmer Michael Phelps, a 500-member strong Team USA arrived in red, white and blue from head to toe.
Kenyan running legend and two-time Olympic champion Kipchoge Keino was conferred the first ever ‘Olympic Laurel’, a distinction created by the IOC to honour an outstanding individual for achievement in education, culture and peace through sport.
The 76-year-old Keino won a gold each in the 1968 Mexico Olympics (1500m) and 1972 Munich Games (3000m steeplechase).
The ceremony was divided into 22 segments with the first 11 focussing on Brazil and its evolution. The first 45 minutes was about the history of Brazil and its evolution billions of years ago before the theme moved to planet earth.
No football, and no Pele may sound a sheer coincidence but there was ‘M’, the fictional character of James Bond series.
Academy Award winner Judi Dench made her presence felt along with ‘Grand Dame’ of Brazilian theatre, Fernanda Montenegro, and the duo interpreted Carlos Drummond de Andrade’s classic poem ‘A Flor e Nausea’, announcing the hope for the future.
The ‘Aquele Abraco’ song in the opening video was performed by Luiz Melodia, a household name in Brazil’s popular music and an epitome of Carioca spirit as his spirited rendition set the tone.
The welcome segment featured three themes beginning with a mass choreography where giant waves were created by the movement of the squares to the musical version of “Summer Samba” by Marcos Valle.
The ceremony began with a countdown and at the zero count, the volunteers started to hit the cushions, performing a powerful drumming.
The cast then began to move in a circle creating a silver vortex in a visual treat for the eyes as a giant inflatable, in the shape of the peace symbol, was raised in the centre and the icon turned 180-degree to reveal a tree.
By transforming the the peace symbol into a tree, the show tried to put forward their message.
The official flag was hoisted by Rio’s environmental police command reinforcing the message that the protection of forests was now the main challenge that Brazil faces.