Rio 2016: Games start with Friday fiesta


The Olympic Games have started in style at the Maracana as Rio promised to show the world how to put on the ultimate Friday night fiesta.

An estimated worldwide audience of three billion is expected to tune in to watch the opening ceremony, which promised to be "heavy on history and environmentalism" and "deliver a message for planet earth".

Brazil football great Pele announced he would not attend due to concerns over his health, with the honour of lighting the flame reportedly set to go to former tennis world number one Gustavo Kuerten.

The Games commenced following months of talk over whether Rio would be ready to become the first South American country to stage the Olympics, and a build-up which was overshadowed by a Russian doping scandal.

The ceremony, which started at 20:00 local time (23:00 GMT), marked the beginning of the Games, staged over 19 days with 306 events taking place in 42 disciplines.