Luguelin Santos carries the flag of Dominican Republic during the opening ceremony for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
In keeping with the message of coming together to save the planet, Olympic organizers handed out “Seeds of Hope” to the thousands of athletes marching in the opening ceremony. Each of the some 10,500 athletes in the Parade of Nations received a seed and a cartridge with soil to plant a tree native to Brazil.
During the opening celebration itself, the cartridges were placed in mirrored towers located along the stage. Once all the athletes had entered Maracana Stadium, the towers were pushed together and suddenly exploded in a splash of green, a simulation of trees sprouting up toward the sky.
But the gesture was more than mere optics. The real seeds eventually will be planted at one of the Olympic venues in nearby Deodoro.
“The towers which moments ago symbolized urban claustrophobia will house the seeds, which will grow into the Athletes’ Forest in the area of Deodoro. This will be Rio 2016’s legacy,” the official Olympics website said. There will be 207 species, one for each delegation.
Brazil has more than 50,000 catalogued species of trees.