Spectacular Opening Ceremony kickstarts Rio Olympic Games

The Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games has got under way at 3.00 Baku time, with 300 dancers and 5,000 volunteers flocking to the legendary Maracana stadium for a glittering event that will raise the curtain on the first Olympic Games to be held in South America.

Taking place in the carnival capital of the world, the ceremony will mark the start of two weeks of sporting excellence, excitement and high drama. Running until 21 August, Rio 2016 will feature an all-star cast topped by the likes of Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps.

More than 11,000 athletes from 206 National Olympic Committees (NOCs), including first time entrants Kosovo and South Sudan, are scheduled to take part. With 306 sets of medals, the games will feature 28 Olympic sports-including rugby sevens and golf, which were added by the International Olympic Committee in 2009. These sporting events will take place at 33 venues in the host city and at five venues in the cities of SAPound o Paulo (Brazil’s largest city), Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Brasilia (Brazil’s capital), and Manaus.

The ceremony’s organizers have prepared a thrilling show brimming with light, samba and spectacular sets, and showcasing all the diversity and energy of Brazil. Around the globe, hundreds of millions of viewers will be tuning in to watch the show live.

As well as promoting peace and tolerance, the ceremony also features a call for everyone around the world to save the planet from climate change.

The athletes of the 207 delegations, which, for the very first time, include a team of refugees competing under the Olympic banner, enter the Maracana.

Greece, the country that brought the world the Olympics, comes in first as is traditional. Led by boxer Togrul Mammadov, Azerbaijan entered the arena after Austria.

Azerbaijans hopes will be pinned on 56 athletes who will contest medals in 18 sports, of which four – triathlon, archery, cycling and canoe slalom – are new for the country.

Thirty-six of this squad will compete in their first Olympic Games.

Three Azerbaijan referees will officiate in the Games in the wrestling, gymnastics and boxing tournaments. The Azerbaijani team also includes 34 coaches, six doctors, physiotherapists and technicians.