I awoke this morning to headlines saying the “highlight” of the opening ceremony for the Olympic Games in Rio was the long walk of a Brazilian supermodel on the stage. Seriously!?
I don’t think the millions of viewers would agree, including that model.
Instead, I think a major highlight was when ten athletes—all refugees without a country—walked into the arena together to a standing ovation. Or when Vanderlei de Lima was chosen as the one to light the Olympic cauldron to ignite the first Games in South America because he was robbed of a gold medal when a crazed fan attacked him during the race back in 2004 in Athens.
But what struck me the most—in the midst of all the unrest and fear across our globe—was the joyful, unified, peaceful celebration among hundreds of nations represented by the elite athletes in that arena. I loved that Portuguese-speaking athletes from Angola were there, and a handful from the country with the whimsical name of Djibouti were there. The team from Bermuda, all in Bermuda shorts, made me smile. And the towering basketball players from America made me proud.
The crescendo for me was watching the video of Kip Keino, 72, a former Olympian from Kenya who won two gold medals and is now training young athletes to run in his footsteps. That video showed children gleefully running with their hero through African fields while flying white kites shaped like doves. And then that same hero was live in the Olympic arena, running with Brazilian children with those same white kites trailing behind them (link).
(Image Credit: Lars Baron/Getty Images)
Even in the midst of an underlying fear that terrorists might target the arena, or the unrest outside those doors as hungry Brazilians protested such extravagant costs for the ceremony, I think I still saw a hint of heaven. The beautiful tapestry of faces from so many nations in joyful celebration together reminded me that one day we’ll be in a similar crowd, with all eyes on Him, worshiping Him together. Yes, I know it’s only the Olympics, and likening that scene to heaven is a stretch. But I found it somewhat ironic that the last camera shot that night was up by the famous statue, overlooking that city of millions covered in dazzling lights.
(Fun side note: As I watched the sea of Brazilian nationals smiling in their colorful costumes and heard samba music and Portuguese in the background, I couldn’t help but go back to the years our young family lived in Brazil. We moved there in 1989 with our firstborn only four months old and returned to the US when she was almost four years old. Our youngest was born in Brazil—all eleven pounds of her—and she now proudly carries the honor of dual citizenship and a touch of Brazilian spunk still in her.)
What about you? I’d love to hear your thoughts about the opening ceremony or share what you love most about the Olympic Games.