Rio’s closing ceremony: vibrant despite the rain

The final evening of this year’s Olympic Games truly embodied the spirit of ‘a new world.’

Fireworks explode above the Maracanã Stadium at the end of the closing ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic games on August 21, 2016. Pascal Le Segretain | Getty Images

The 2016 Olympics’ closing ceremony Sunday night summed up the 2016 Olympics in two perfect ways: It embodied a determined, vibrant spirit despite a few challenges and setbacks … and also, Simone Biles.

Much like the whole of the Rio Olympics, which had issues with everything from the Zika virus to pools mysteriously turning green, the closing ceremony started off with a setback: a downpour of rain. The camera panned over a stadium of empty lower seats as audience members crowded together under the canopied protection of the upper level seats. But despite the challenges, the games went on—and despite the rain, so did the closing ceremony.

I watched the closing ceremonies with a little apprehension, because part of me didn’t want to see any awkward, forced performances from a country that had already had its share of struggles in hosting the games. But I was surprised: The ceremonies were surprisingly low-key, imbued with the simple pleasure of coming together to celebrate hard work and sportsmanship. The performances were colorful but authentic, beautiful but simple, and the joy on everyone’s face authentic.

America’s incredibly strong sweetheart honored as the flag bearer

America’s darling Simone Biles was the true star of the closing ceremonies. Everyone enjoyed a chuckle at the famously strong Biles apparently struggling with her flag, but her dazzling smile never wavered. Biles’ star power is so strong, in fact, that the announcers noted that she actually held up the parade as athlete after athlete paused to pose with her—a conga line of athletes dubbed “Simone’s Selfie Central.”

One of the highlights of the ceremony was a beautiful performance by Brazilian singer Julia Michaels singing in a vibrant green dress in the pouring rain. A green pool didn’t stop the Rio athletes, and a little rain didn’t stop Michaels from singing and looking like a literal mermaid. The oiled-up Tonga flag-bearer from the opening ceremonies, Pita Nikolas Taufatofua, also made a return appearance, the rain accentuating his once-again oiled chest.

Brazil chose the slogan “a new world” for its celebration of the games, and watching the vibrant, effervescent performances in the rain, a beautiful mix of color, energy, and diversity, I felt like they could not have chosen a better motto. This year’s Olympics were a new world in so many ways, from the U.S. women dominating the gold medal podiums (U.S. women took home 61 gold medals, versus their male peers, who brought home 55), to female athletes competing in burkas, to athletes demonstrating humanity and grace, even in defeat.

Overall, the closing ceremonies of the Rio Olympics felt like the perfect end to contests that were about so much more than just a performance. It was a tribute to the diversity, teamwork, and perseverance that made this year’s games so inspiring to watch.

And in the true spirit of “a new world,” by the end of the closing ceremonies, my four children were racing around the house, consumed in their own Olympic games. To me, that means mission accomplished when it comes to inspiring the next generation. Well done, Rio, well done.

Brazilian model Izabel Goulart performs during the closing ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Maracanã stadium. Luis Acosta | AFP | Getty Images
An overview of fireworks during Rio’s closing ceremony on August 21. Antonin Thuillier | AFP | Getty Images
A red white and blue moment at the closing ceremony in Rio. Odd Andersen | AFP | Getty Images
Singer Mariene de Castro performs in front of the Olympic Cauldron during Rio’s closing ceremony. Cameron Spencer | Getty Images
Colorful dancers perform during the closing ceremony. Manan Vatsyayana | AFP | Getty Images
Athletes mingle and party despite the rain at Maracanã Stadium on August 21. Cameron Spencer | Getty Images
More dancers perform during the closing ceremony on August 21. Martin Bernetti | AFP | Getty Images
Volunteers participate during the Recognition of the Volunteers segment of Rio’s closing ceremony. David Ramos | Getty Images
Carnival dancers perform alongside a giant parrot. David Ramos | Getty Images
Simone Biles of Team USA walks during the ‘Heroes of the Games’ segment during the closing ceremony of Rio 2016. Ezra Shaw | Getty Images

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Chaunie Brusie
Chaunie Brusie

Chaunie Brusie is a labor and delivery nurse turned writer. She’s the author of “Tiny Blue Lines: Preparing For Your Baby, Reclaiming Your Life, and Moving Forward in an Unplanned Pregnancy,” and a mom of four who lives in Michigan. Find her at

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