Celebration of Brazil opens Olympics - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Celebration of Brazil opens Olympics

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(AP) -

RIO DE JANEIRO -- The opening ceremony for the Rio Olympics was a demonstration of Brazil's heritage, highlighted by the country's proud musical history.
   Thousands in the stadium and millions more through television saw the South American nation proudly showcase its traditions and environmental wonders before athletes from 205 nations and territories march behind their flags.
   Each Olympian who entered the opening ceremony was given a seed and a cartridge of soil, which was to be placed in mirror towers all over the stage floor.  The cartridges will be taken to Deodoro and form what will be called the Athletes' Forest.
   A smattering of boos could be heard as local government officials took their seats. Many residents are upset over how much money was spent on these games, saying it could have been better-directed toward Brazilian needs
   The 549-member U.S. team was led by flag-holder Michael Phelps. The team received a warm welcome from the 78,000 at Maracana Stadium.
   Russia's team shrunk from 389 to 270 athletes following the government-orchestrated cheating in previous, recent competitions.
   Kosovo and South Sudan marched into the opening ceremony of an Olympics for the first time, making their debut at the Rio Games. Kosovo was officially recognized by the IOC in 2014, and South Sudan was recognized last year.
   The capper on the evening came when Brazilian marathoner Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima lit the Olympic cauldron.
   IOC resident Thomas Bach spoke after the parade of athletes and said the Rio Games will promote peace. He asked the athletes to "respect yourself, respect each other, respect the Olympic Values which make the Olympic Games unique for you and for the entire world."
   President Barack Obama says the Olympic Games build a sense of "common humanity" as countries pursue the ideal of sending their best to compete "in a spirit of goodwill."
   In all, 4,800 performers and volunteers were involved in the opening ceremony.

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