Venue spectators and millions of international television viewers watched Olympians parade and dance to celebrate their achievements and pride of their countries.
Samba dancers, Brazilian drummers, floats and costumed masqueraders braved the rainy weather to join athletes in what was a carnival like spirit in the Maracana Stadium.
It was a night that the media forgot, at least for the moment, the struggles of Brazil as host of the Games. A green colour swimming pool, a false allegation US swimmers of being robbed in Rio, lots of empty seats at some venues in the early stages of the Games, or a few lapses in security were all but forgotten during the closing ceremony. But whatever the problems, international media have been reporting that Brazil delivered one of the best Olympic Games ever in recent memory.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made his appearance as part of the show dressed as the popular game character Mario. He emerged for a ‘tunnel’ signifying the connection and transfer of host responsibilities from Brazil to Japan, host of the 2020 Summer Olympics.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said, “These Olympic Games are leaving a unique legacy for generations to come… History will talk about a Rio de Janeiro before and a much better Rio de Janeiro after the Olympic Games.” He was referring to historic achievements of athletes, as well as the expected positive post-Games legacy for the people of Brazil.
For people of the Caribbean community, the biggest talking point for many years to come would be the achievement and performance of Jamaica’s Usain Bolt in what was his last appearance at the Olympic Games, as a competing athlete. Ever smiling, Bolt brought a different dimension to the sprint competition, rejecting the self-centered macho boosts for crowd-pleasing interaction and always time for media interviews.
Quite apart from the spectacular record-breaking Olympic career, Bolt retained the image of a clean, drug-free competitor, who possessed a once in a lifetime athletic capability that helped to pack stadiums wherever he competed. Certainly, the iconic Usain Bolt has etched his presence on the world forever.
For now, the world will bask in the outstanding memories of the 2016 Games and its spectacular Brazilian styled opening and closing ceremonies, as athletes and countries being the process of preparation all over again for the next Olympics in the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’.