Pelé surprises London 2012 Closing Ceremony crowd with Rio 2016 handover performance
Sunday, 12 August 2012
August 12 - Brazilian football legend Pelé, the man widely regarded as the best football player of all time, made a surprise appearance here at the London 2012 Olympic Closing Ceremony as he helped Rio de Janeiro take on the mantle as the next host city of the Games.
The 71-year-old (pictured above, front) caused the sell-out 80,000 crowd to erupt as he emerged at the end of Rio's eight-minute segment that marks symbolically the handover of the Olympics Games from one host city to the next.
The artistic segment titled "Embrace" was the brainchild of creative directors Cao Hamburger and Daniela Thomas.
It came after the Olympic Flag was lowered and handed from Mayor of London Boris Johnson to International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge before finally being presented to the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro Eduardo Paes.
The Brazilian National Anthem rang out to signal the transition as the Olympic Stadium was transformed into a sea of green and yellow, the colours of Brazil.
The segment, which made a point of avoiding Brazilian stereotypes, began with dancer Renato Sorriso performing as a street cleaner dancing in the middle of the stage with fancy footwork that delighted the crowd.
Talented Sorriso, well-loved in Brazil because of his infectious Samba dancing at the Rio Carnival every year, was joined on stage by popular Brazilian singer Marisa Monte, rapper BNegão, actor Seu Jorge and model Alessandra Ambrósio.
Brazilian dancers also took to the centre of the arena for a colourful segment that celebrated Rio's mix of cultures, music and dance, bringing a carnival atmosphere to the proceedings.
But the highlight came as an unidentified man walked onto the stage, removing his hat and taking off his coat to reveal the unmistakable yellow number 10 shirt of the Brazilian football team that made Pelé one of the most iconic sportsmen in sport.
Pelé hugged Sorriso as a giant inflatable of the Rio 2016 Olympic logo unfolded on the centre stage.
"It is a very proud and significant moment to receive the Olympic flag for the next Olympic Games," said Rio 2016 President Carlos Arthur Nuzman.
"We wanted to give the world a taster of what to expect for 2016 with our segment within the Closing Ceremony.
"We also wanted to celebrate this occasion for those who were not able to join us at the Olympic Stadium by hosting a special event at Casa Brasil.
"We have been very impressed by the London 2012 Olympic Games and we will be returning to Rio de Janeiro with many valuable insights from our time here in London and we look forward to welcoming the world to our city in four years' time."
August 2012: Rio 2016 planning to "avoid clichés" in "sophisticated" Olympic Flag handover