|Team Jamaica led by amazing Gold Medal Olympian Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce march into the Maracanã Stadium|
Jamaicans watched avidly as the athletes marched into the Maracanã Stadium for the Opening of the Rio Olympics, and we were not disappointed. Led by multiple gold-medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, our team looked glorious in our black, green and gold. Wearing the national colours in her hair, Shelly-Ann was voted ‘Best hair at the Olympics Opening’ by none other than BBC Sports!
There were queries about the absence of The Big Man, Usain Bolt, from the ceremony, and some strange speculation. Clearly, we don’t understand the sensation that Bolt is. One athlete tweeted that when Usain Bolt walked into the Olympic Village cafeteria, she nearly turned over her table in her rush to meet him. Had he been on that infield for the opening ceremony, there would have been a crush of autograph-seekers – certainly not safe for those precious feet!
We note the unfinished bathrooms that greeted our Olympians on their arrival at the Village, and hope that by now, they are comfortable and rested, as this is so important for their readiness. The wonderful patriots that they are, our athletes projected only positive vibrations, smiling and exuberant to cheers of the appreciative audience at the opening.
Brazil’s environmental message
The Brazilians held a breathtaking opening ceremony, drawing from the artistry of their famous Rio Carnival. Most importantly, they used the occasion witnessed by over a billion global television watchers, to warn about the effects of climate change. It was genius to have each of the over 10,000 athletes plant a seed, which will become an “athlete’s forest” at one of the Olympic locations in Brazil.
The environmental theme was carried through by Olympic rings formed by trees, and a shining, three-dimensional sculpture, suspended above the Stadium, signifying the power of the sun.
With all their challenges, Brazil has impressed; clearly the colour and warmth of their opening ceremony and deep concern for this, our good Earth is an endearing welcome to the world’s athletes.
First ever Olympic Refugee Team
A moving moment was the entry of the first ever Olympic Refugee Team, led by Rose Nathike Lokonyen, a South Sudanese runner. They marched behind the International Olympics Committee (IOC) banner, a gesture that gave a human face to the millions of refugees now living in camps around the world, displaced by war and brutality.
This bold move of the IOC and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) places front and centre before our world leaders the urgency of securing accords that will return these innocents to their homelands or find permanent residence for them, where their children can live healthy, happy lives and their elders can receive the respect and care they deserve.
Excerpt from Jean Lowrie-Chin's weekly Jamaica Observer column