Model Gisele Bundchen, easily the most famous Brazilian in the world today, opened the Opening Ceremony at the 2016 Olympics in Rio with a walk down the catwalk. She walked down the center of the Maracana Stadium, the most iconic sports venue in the country. It is her last catwalk.
Bundchen’s role at the Opening Ceremony came under question since leaks from early rehearsals showed that her appearance would be controversial. It was alleged to show Bundchen getting robbed by a man and many thought that just spread racial stereotypes of Brazilians. The sketch ended up being dropped from the program, but it was clear that Bundchen still needed to participate.
Filmmaker Fernando Meirelles said that the controversy over the opening was a “total misunderstanding.”
“Imagine us doing a scene like that in the opening. I’m not that clueless,” he wrote to the Washington Post.
“This is for sure the longest runway I have ever walked in my life and by far with the most amount of people watching, so it is a little nerve-wracking I must say,” Bunchden told People Magazine. “This is a very special moment for my country and I am humbled that they invited me to be a part of such a special celebration.”
Although Brazil is just an hour ahead of New York, NBC still decided to air the Opening Ceremony on a tape delay.