The opening ceremony of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games took place on the evening of Friday 5 August 2016 in the Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, starting at 20:00 BRT (23:00 UTC). As mandated by the Olympic Charter, the proceedings combine the formal ceremonial opening of this international sporting event (including welcoming speeches, hoisting of the flags and the parade of athletes) with an artistic spectacle to showcase the host nation's culture. There were around 78,000 spectators at the Maracana.
The creative directors for the ceremony were Fernando Meirelles, Daniela Thomas and Andrucha Waddington. Deborah Colker, Brazil's most celebrated choreographer, prepared a cast of over 6000 volunteers who danced in the opening ceremony. Rehearsals started at the end of May 2016. Meirelles stated that the ceremonies for the 2016 Summer Olympics would have a significantly lower budget than those of other recent Olympics, totalling only 10% of the total budget for the ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics. Explaining his rationale, he explained that he would be "ashamed to waste what London spent in a country where we need sanitation; where education needs money. So I'm very glad we're not spending money like crazy. I'm happy to work with this low budget because it makes sense for Brazil." Meirelles outlined that because of the lower budget, the ceremony would eschew "high-tech" ideas such as moving stages and drones; fellow ceremonies director Leonardo Caetano went on to say that the concept of the ceremony would emphasize "originality" over "luxury", and "compensate with creativity, rhythm and emotion".
For the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics and Paralympics, a major reconstruction project was initiated for the Maracanã Stadium. The original seating bowl, with a two-tier configuration, was demolished, giving way to a new one-tier seating bowl. The original stadium's roof in concrete was removed and replaced with a fiberglass tensioned membrane coated with Polytetrafluoroethylene. The new roof covers 95% of the seats inside the stadium, unlike the former design, where protection was only afforded to some seats in the upper ring and those above the gate access of each sector.
Fernando Meirelles said in September 2015 that the ceremony would be a vision of the country "and what I hope it will become". Meirelles said he would try to steer away from cliches, but not all of them; for example, the carnival has been confirmed to be a part of the ceremony. Retiring Brazilian model Gisele Bündchen walked through the stadium as "The Girl from Ipanema" was performed by Daniel Jobim. Lea T participated in the opening ceremony of 2016 Summer Olympics, thus becoming the first transgender woman to participate in the Olympic Games.
Ending the Olympic torch relay at the end of the Opening Ceremony, Gustavo Kuerten brought the Olympic torch into the stadium, relayed the Olympic flame to Hortencia Marcari, who relayed to Vanderlei de Lima, who then lit the Olympic cauldron.