A Chance to Reframe the Past and the Present: People’s Representations at the Rio 2016 Olympic Opening Ceremony (Brazilian Studies Association Conference) (2018)


Rio de Janeiro was the first South American city to host the Olympic Games in 2016 and its selection in 2009 occurred amidst the intent of the then Brazilian government to claim a seat on the international stage. This event’s opening ceremony became a platform for host countries through the event organizers presenting a spectacle for the potential audience of half the world’s population. Within the spectacle, the event organizers controlled the discourses, which portrayed the nation, choosing carefully the images and messages to be displayed. The Olympic broadcasters were also supposed to contextualize the ceremony based on a script provided by the organizing committee, this being another form of controlling the messages. Through this media guide and the news published by a national newspaper (O Globo) about the ceremony’s repercussions, this research aims to show the main discourses that represented the Brazilian people at this event. From this general representation, two main groups were considered: people through history (native, colonizers, slaves and immigrants) and people through culture (artists, musicians and athletes). Within these two groups, gender, age, class and ethnicity are analysed, whereas a sense of creativity and joy tended to neutralize past and present history of conflicts and contestations. Like past opening ceremonies, pacified and beautified images of a host city were portrayed. Yet, Rio 2016 also hid in plain sight gender, class and urban contestations by reframing them as a (supposedly) proud image of Brazilian diversity.

Conference website: http://www.brasa.org/brasa-xiii-call-for-proposals.

Citation: de Almeida, B.S. (July 2018). “A chance to reframe the past and the present: people’s representations at the Rio 2016 Olympic opening ceremony” to be presented on the “(Re)Presenting, Embodying & Consuming Rio de Janeiro: Narratives of Nation and the 2016 Olympic Games” panel organized for the Brazilian Studies Association Conference (BRASA) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.