The carnival capital of Rio de Janeiro will host a glittering Olympics opening ceremony party on Friday.
The iconic Maracana Stadium will host a pulsating gathering for more than 70,000 fans, 10,400 athletes and dozens of world leaders as the first Olympics to be staged in South America gets under way.
The ceremony in the teeming Brazilian city sets off two weeks of sporting excellence and drama featuring the likes of Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps that wraps up on August 21.
Organisers hope the bright lights and thumping rhythms of Friday’s samba spectacular at the Maracana can brighten the mood throughout the nation.
“I hope the opening ceremony can be a kind of anti-depressant for Brazil,” said one of the show’s creative directors, the acclaimed “City of God” film-maker Fernando Meirelles.
The ceremony would craft a message of tolerance and care for the environment to a troubled planet, Meirelles said.
But the party will kick-off after the most trouble-plagued build-up to an Olympics in history, with a biting recession, double-digit unemployment, soaring crime and a public health crisis caused by the Zika virus just a few of the social problems ravaging the city.
The first gold medal should be awarded on Saturday in shooting.
All eyes will be on American swimming star Phelps, the most decorated Olympian in history, when he returns to the swimming pool in the first week.