RIO de Janeiro did what it does best and threw a spectacular party to celebrate the end of the Olympic Games. A day after Neymar’s spot-kick secured the much-yearned-for men’s football gold, spirits inside the iconic Maracana soared once again.
Closer in feel to a rock concert than a ceremony, the high-energy mix of music, dance and physical art neatly summed up the sense of joyful abandon that the city prides itself on.
Taking up the theme from renowned film director Fernando Meirelles’ Opening Ceremony, technology and extravagance were spurned in favour of swaying hips, pulsating rhythms and stunning visuals brought to life by hundreds of local dancers.
A section in which artist Burle Marx’s instantly recognisable swirls rippled across the stage accompanied by one of Tom Jobim’s classic tunes was a particular crowd-pleaser.
The seemingly curious choice of house DJ Kygo to launch the Olympic Channel came off well, with a selection of medal-winning athletes letting go of any inhibitions they may once have possessed and dancing wildly to the Norwegian’s upbeat tunes.
Samba, frevo and choro — dances synonymous with Brazil’s rich musical heritage — all made a welcome bow, while the predicted rain just about stayed away.
It would have needed a storm of epic proportions to dampen the enthusiasm of the thousands of high-class athletes in attendance. Released from the demands of their rigorous training and lifestyle constraints, the exuberant smiles on the familiar and not-so-familiar faces highlighted a certain sense of relief that it is all over.
Geographically, Japan is almost as far from Brazil as you can get, and Tokyo 2020’s handover ceremony gave a glimpse into a Games that will have its own, very different identity.
Neon, high-tech graphics and robotic-like dancers on hidden, body-controlled scooters marked an about turn from Rio’s natural rhythms.
The emergence of Japan’s Prime Minster Shinzo Abe from a large green pipe dressed in the guise of 1980s video game icon Super Mario did indicate Tokyo 2020 has inherited Rio’s admirable sense of self-deprecation.
Bringing the Games full circle, Renato Sorriso, the quick-stepping road sweeper who charmed the world during the London 2012 Olympic Games Closing Ceremony, led the stadium into an inevitable final street carnival.