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Rio's Opening Ceremony analysis from Luke DeCock and Vahe Gregorian

Raleigh News Observer's Luke DeCock and the Kansas City Star's Vahe Gregorian analyze Rio's Opening Ceremony on Friday night as the competition begins Saturday in the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
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Raleigh News Observer's Luke DeCock and the Kansas City Star's Vahe Gregorian analyze Rio's Opening Ceremony on Friday night as the competition begins Saturday in the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

It's hard for me to judge because that's was the first Opening Ceremony I have attended (in great seats about 25 yards from IOC president Thomas Bach) but I thought Brazil did a good job on a limited budget capturing the spirit of both the games and Rio, with a political message thrown in to boot.

As I wrote this morning, Brazil didn't have the money for any of the feats of technology and engineering that London and Beijing pulled off, but what it had was a lot of dancing and a lot of music, which was quite evocative of Rio. And some of the tricks with the video projections did have that ooh-ahh feeling anyway (despite Brazil claiming to have some milestone of flight we all know happened at Kitty Hawk; maybe that's what the director meant when he said Donald Trump wasn't going to like it, although more likely it was the global-warming portion of the program).

It definitely had the most climatological statistics of any Olympic ceremony and Rio didn't skimp on the fireworks budget; as far as I'm concerned, it went about as well as could possibly be expected despite the absence of Pele, who cited health reasons but is a surprisingly polarizing figure back home in Brazil, where he's seen by some as both too corporate and having forgotten his roots.

If nothing else, the Opening Ceremony was welcomed by journalists because it finally gave us something to write about. Most of what we've all been doing could have been done in June or July, although there's certainly value in these pre-Olympic gatherings. The USA Shooting press conference took an odd turn Thursday when five-time medalist Kim Rhode described the sport, unprompted, as “stigmatized,” which prompted several follow-up questions and today's story about how the sport is inextricably caught in a political crossfire, awful pun unintended but unavoidable.

The basketball team, which had been about as dull as possible so far, got weird when, in the middle of the Opening Ceremony, TMZ reported three members – DeMar DeRozan, DeMarcus Cousins and DeAndre Jordan – left their cruise ship to visit a notorious Rio brothel on Thursday, staying for a drink after saying they thought it was a spa, according to TMZ.

THE DAY AHEAD: The United States is a 50-point favorite over China tonight in basketball (6 p.m. ET) but the game just got a lot more interesting. It will be really interesting to see how Mike Krzyzewski handles this, not to mention the players involved. As I post this, Ginny Thrasher has just won the first U.S. gold of the games, in 10-meter air rifle. The U.S. women's soccer team plays France and the field hockey team opens against Pan-Am rival Argentina, both at 4 p.m. ET.

Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, ldecock@newsobserver.com, @LukeDeCock

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