Paralympics Diary : We know how to do it

The opening ceremony of Rio 2016 Paralympic Games showed that when Brazil meets its soul, the country is ready to impress the world.

João Pedro Soares
João Pedro Soares is watching the opening ceremony of Rio 2016 Paralympic Games
João Pedro Soares is watching the opening ceremony of Rio 2016 Paralympic GamesFoto: Privat

One hour before the show started, I was apprehensive. More than half of the stadium was empty. The athletes, who struggled to reach this special moment, didn’t deserve that. When I went for a walk on Maracanã common area, the so special and usual scene for most of the people raised in Rio showed up to me: thousands of people coming out from the subway and railway ramps to the stadium. Once again, the “cariocas” (people who were born or raised in Rio) left it for the last minute. And it couldn’t be different, because it’s part of our personality – just like me writing this text some minutes before the deadline.
Right before the party got started, the crowd showed that political issues wouldn’t be left apart. The boos against the new president took part of the focus away from the celebration. Of course it was not positive that such a beautiful ceremony had to be interrupted for more than a minute for this reason. But it couldn’t be different. The stadiums have always been places that peoples all over the world used to convey their political and social desires. This was seen during the campaign for the end of the dictatorship in Brazil in 1984, and until today, in Germany, by the demonstrations against neo-Nazis groups.
However, when the show began, a feeling of delight took over the atmosphere. The first song played, “Um bilhete pra Didi” (A note for Didi), composed by the fantastic group of the 70’s Os Novos Baianos, is an exaltation Brazilian’s amazing capacity of integrating local and foreign cultures. Summarizing, a meeting between electric guitar and cavaquinho, a Portuguese instrument introduced in Brazil during the colonial period. The Brazilians transformed its use in a so creative way, that many people don’t believe it wasn’t created here.
When a college asked me what the most special moment of the evening was, I couldn’t find an answer. The “flight” of Aaron Wheelz was impressive and shocking. Later, when a robot came to the center of stage, I couldn’t imagine how it would have a happy ending. Then Amy Pudy showed up and presented one of the most beautiful dances I’ve ever seen. The “magic” that made paraplegic kids walk put many people in tears. It was a remarkable celebration of life. It may not have been the most expensive opening ceremony, but certainly one of the most emotional.
Now I’m sure that the most touching moment for me took place right on the beginning. In a circle, a group of musicians played different samba songs. It’s what we call here as “roda de samba”, which means “samba circle”. A scene that may be seen in many bars and corners of Rio. On the same group were the legendary Monarco, one of the most important figures of samba, and Pedrinho da Serrinha, a nine-year-old boy that amazingly played the tambourine. In the end, he played a solo. It represented that despite all problems we may have, if we follow our roots, we may always be hopeful. Our music is our soul and also our capacity of overcoming difficulties with creativity. It couldn’t be more symbolic for the opening of Paralympic Games.

Rio 2016: Porträts der Redakteure

Porträts Wer berichtet für den Tagesspiegel von den Paralympics 2016 in Rio de Janeiro? Die Porträts der Redakteure finden Sie hier.