Reasons the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games will go down in history

The first editions of the Games to be staged in South America were packed full of unforgettable moments. Relive some of them here…

An opening party that charmed the world

The legendary Maracanã hosted an opening ceremony that made Brazilians proud and enchanted millions of viewers around the world. It celebrated the contribution of indigenous Brazilians, Africans, Europeans, and the Japanese to the construction of the country, while supermodel Gisele Bündchen stole the show to the tunes of the Girl from Ipanema. There was also a powerful message about the need to preserve the environment and, of course, an incredible party with live music from a host of Brazilian stars.

When Brazilian marathon runner Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima lit the flame, the world celebrated the start of the first Olympic Games in South America. While one flame remained alight in the stadium, another was transported to the city’s rejuvenated port area, where it became a new must-see attraction for cariocas and tourists alike.

Refugee team makes Olympic history

Rio had the honour of welcoming the first ever Olympic refugee team, a group of 10 athletes who, as IOC president Thomas Bach put it, would send “a signal to the international community that refugees are our fellow human beings and are an enrichment to society”. They were cheered to the rafters, from their rapturous arrival at the athletes’s village (below), to the opening ceremony and then their sporting performances.

The best athletes in the world competing in the planet’s most beautiful city

There were 60 Olympic records and 19 world records as the USA topped the medal table with 46 gold medals, followed by Great Britain on 27 and China on 26. Michael Phelps cemented his place as the most successful Olympian of all time with five golds and one silver in Rio, taking his total to 28 medals (23 gold). Fellow American Simone Biles charmed the locals and confirmed her place among the greats of gymnastics. But when it came to sending to fans into raptures, nobody could surpass Usain Bolt, who completed an unprecedented ‘triple-triple’ and seemed to have the whole word in the palm of his hand.

When it seemed it couldn’t get any better, along came the Paralympic Games

A memorable opening ceremony at the Maracanã recreated Copacabana beach, had a classic carioca samba jam, a blind ballet and double-amputee Paralympic snowboarder dancing with a robot. The entire stadium held its breath then burst into applause when Paralympian Marcia Malsar, who was carrying the torch, fell in the rain, then picked herself up and soldiered on towards the cauldron. When Brazilian swimming star Cloadoaldo Silva lit the flame, the stadium shook to its rafters.

Read more moments at the Rio 2016 website.

Photo cover: Brazilian athletes Arthur Zanetti, Diego Hypólito and Arthur Nory (Credit: Luiza Kreitlon)

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