Rio sends off rocky yet rousing Games with tropical tribute
A blustery storm, a touch of melancholy and a sense of pride converged at the closing ceremony of the 2016 Olympics on Sunday as Brazil breathed a collective sigh of relief at having pulled off South America's first Games.
SEE MORE: Everything you need to know about the Summer Olympics
It was far from a perfect execution by Brazil, which battled with empty seats, security scares and a mysterious green diving pool. But two late gold medals for the host country in its two favorite sports, men's soccer and volleyball, helped smooth some of the rough edges around the Games for Brazilians.
From the Maracana where it all began 16 days ago, the final event kicked off with figures dressed as multi-colored macaws flying over Rio's world-famous landmarks, Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain, before forming the five Olympic rings.
A storm that menaced Rio all day sent wind and rain through Brazil's most storied stadium and the power briefly went out in part of the stadium and the surrounding neighborhood shortly before the ceremony kicked off.
Rain drenched performers and hundreds of athletes as they entered the party, many with medals hanging around their necks, like the U.S. men's basketball team which won gold on Sunday.
To the beat of traditional Brazilian music, Olympians danced and waved their countries' flags to celebrate their place on the world's premier sporting stage. The first Refugee team in Olympic history, one of the biggest crowd-pleasers of the Games, marched in behind the Olympic flag, carried by a Congolese judoka and Rio resident.
The athletes will witness the last of 306 medal ceremonies, for the men's marathon earlier in the day.
The city will then hand over the Olympic flag to Tokyo, site of the 2020 Summer Games, and extinguish the Olympic flame, burning since Aug. 5, in a small, environmentally friendly cauldron.
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