Opening ceremony of XXXI Summer Olympic Games starts in Rio de Janeiro

BANGKOK THAILAND- JULY 08 Nataliya Goncharova of Russia hits the ball during day three of the FIVB World Grand Prix Group 1 Final

TV ratings for last night's opening ceremonies at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil were 25% LOWER than the same opening ceremonies in London just four years ago! The spreading health crisis of the mosquito-born Zika virus kept some athletes away.

"The best place in the world is here and now", organizing committee chief Carlos Nuzman said, to rapturous applause. Their flag-bearer, Rose Nathike Lokonyen, fled war in South Sudan and ran her first race in a refugee camp in northern Kenya.

Other possible factors include a storm of bad press for the Rio Games, a strong box office buoyed by the success of Suicide Squad and general indifference toward the idea of the Olympics.

The opening ceremony began at 03:00 by Baku time at the Maracana stadium. At the 2004 games, an Irish spectator wearing a kilt, knee-socks and a beret tackled de Lima while he was leading the Olympic marathon.

That was never going to be an issue for Brazil's team, which brought the parade to its traditional conclusion five minutes short of two hours, and only five minutes behind schedule as the crowd erupted with the athletes dancing across stage. They were being joined by a first-ever Refugee Olympic Team of 10 athletes, displaced from Syria, South Sudan, Congo and Ethiopia.

Each athlete was presented with a seed and a cartridge of soil to enable them to plant a native tree of Brazil, which will ultimately form an "Athletes Forest" made up of 207 different species - one for each delegation.

Sailor Peter Burling carried the NZ flag wearing a kakahu cloak along with co-captain Blair Tuke.

Russia's team shrunk from 389 to 270 athletes following the government-orchestrated cheating in previous, recent competitions. Another woman pushed Nemati's wheelchair.

Moraes later wrote that she seemed "the paradigm of the young Carioca (slang for Rio residents): a golden teenage girl, a mixture of flower and mermaid, full of light and grace, the sight of whom is also sad, in that she carries with her, on her route to the sea, the feeling of youth that fades, of the beauty that is not ours alone-it is a gift of life in its handsome and melancholic constant ebb and flow".

The Aviator flies during the Metropolis segment of the opening ceremony.

The ceremony's creative director Fernando Meirelles had a smaller budget than his predecessors, including the mastermind of London 2012's memorable show Danny Boyle, but he promised "the coolest party".

"It is pretty tacky to be overspending", he said. In one of the world's most unequal societies, the spectacle celebrated the culture of the favelas, the slums that hang vertiginously above the renowned beaches of Rio and ring the Maracana.

The organizers have spent billions on new infrastructure, and it has caused deep resentment among Brazilians who feel the money should have been spent on lessening their plight.