Pel will not attend Rio Olympics opening ceremony due to poor health

Poor health has kept Brazils most famous face out of the show, but director Fernando Meirelles is used to setbacks by now and his message is bigger than one person



Brazils most recognisable celebrity Pel has pulled out of the Rio 2016 opening ceremony just hours before it was due to begin, but the director insisted this would not detract from a show that aims to be about a lot more than sport.


Over the past two years, filmmaker Fernando Meirelles has grown accustomed to setbacks as he has prepared for Friday nights performance amid political and economic turmoil in Brazil.


Underscoring how nothing seems to go right for the country recently, the footballer Pel announced his withdrawal as a result of pain to caused by his recent hip replacement surgery. Local media had reported that he was among the candidates to light the Olympic cauldron.


At this point Im not physically able to attend the opening of the Olympics, the 75-year-old said in a statement. As a Brazilian, I ask God to bless all who participate in this event and to make it a great success.


In an interview with the Guardian, Meirelles said the loss of the footballer made little difference to preparations. A bigger disappointment for him was that the cauldron will be lit by an athlete rather than the group of environmental activists he had proposed.


Its a shame, he said, of the Brazilian Olympic Committees decision. We had put together a great team of heroes from across the world. That would have been a message. Instead there will be a sportsperson. I dont know yet who they will choose. I will find out later at the Maracan.



Fernando Meirelles wants to focus on environmental impact during the ceremony. Photograph: Elvira Urquijo A./EPA

He is the third filmmaker in a row to be given the role of creating a live performance that will entertain a global audience of billions. Eight years ago, Zhang Yimous demonstration of Chinas growing power awed the world.


Four years ago, Danny Boyles stagecraft transformed the mood in the UK, which until then had been cynical and pessimistic. Meirelles says he feels proud and scared to follow in their footsteps, but he has had to work in a far tougher environment.


Reflecting massive budget cuts, he says one of the themes of the show will be gambiarra, which means to make do.


This show will be different from those in Athens, Beijing and London, Meirelles said. They were spectacular but they were about their own countries and mostly looked at the past. We focus more on the world and the future.


That has been inevitable. Preparations for the opening ceremony has been disrupted by political instability and sharp economic decline. The former president, Luiz Incio Lula da Silva who helped secure the winning bid seven years ago, is about to stand trial on charges of disrupting an investigation into corruption at state-run oil company Petrobras.


His successor, Dilma Rousseff, has been suspended from office and is now in the midst of an impeachment trial in the Senate over alleged window-dressing of government accounts. Neither will attend the ceremony they helped to make possible. Instead, the place of head of state for the host nation will be unpopular interim president Michel Temer who said recently he was prepared for booing by the crowd inside the Maracan.


Meirelles said it took him six months to decide whether to take on the role but he eventually agreed because it was a platform to raise the issue of climate change. During the show, there will be a call for action.


Our future is really compromised yet we live in the same way, he said. Were not playing here. All countries should engage in reforestation. Its the cheapest and easiest way to mitigate carbon.


To underscore that campaign, every competitor will plant a seed during the parade. These will later be cultivated into the Athletes Forest.


Another theme will be tolerance. The world and Brazil is very conflicted now, said Meirelles. The left wing is out of power here. People are divided. If somebody supports the former president, others consider them an enemy.


Its like in the UK, where friends stop talking to one another because they disagree over whether to leave the European Union. Or the US, where there has never been so much conflict as over Trump.


When Meirelles started out two years or so the political and economic climate was very different. He was told the show would have two-thirds of the 80m budget of London. This initial promise was then cut by 75%.


A banner reading Out Temer. Interim president Michel Temer is expecting a frosty reception at the opening of the Games. Photograph: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters



We ended up with a tenth of the budget of London, he admits. That was a big challenge.


In a normal world, the organising committee would have pushed the government to get more money, but they didnt and Im glad. Im proud we cut the initial budget. Brazil is not a rich country. It would be shameful to spend 150m or 200m real when many homes in Rio lack basic sanitation.


As a result, the show be low-tech and analogue with stages and scenery being moved by manual labour. Apart from the video screens, most of what you will see could have been done by the Greeks more than a thousand years ago, Meirelles says. This was initially out of necessity due to budget cuts and venue limitations.


The Maracan was supposed to have been refurbished with bigger entranceways for the equipment, as well as a stage and ramps.


But this plan became too expensive so the director had to improvise with what was already there a football pitch and a narrow passageway designed primarily for teams. Instead of moving sets in and out, almost everything will now be kept on the pitch inside dozens of mini stages and hidden and revealed according to the stage of the show.


Meirelles says he is proud of the show and hopes it will contribute to the growing buzz in the host city.


The mood in Rio is already on the rise. The city has begun to look like a party, he said. There were lots of complaints but the mood has already begun to change.







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The post Pel will not attend Rio Olympics opening ceremony due to poor health appeared first on Current Health Events.

Pel will not attend Rio Olympics opening ceremony due to poor health

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