Rio 2016 Olympic Ceremonies

Type of event

  • Olympics
  • 26,642 hours
  • 2422 shifts

Event overview

Showforce was awarded the contract to provide the technical stage crew required to deliver the Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympics Opening and Closing Ceremonies following a competitive tender process.

Overview/brief of Showforce’s involvement

The unique solution Showforce presented included the provision of highly experienced international crew chiefs and stage hands from the UK to work with, and manage, skilled local crew chiefs and stage hands and the large numbers of local crew required to complete the load in, show days and load out of a production on this scale, alongside the skills and experience of Showforce’s back office operations team.

The team had to quickly grasp Brazilian bureaucracy and their style of working. The accreditation and visa process was a mammoth task, with the Showforce team requiring invitation letters, full medicals, certificates and visa applications. In addition, all the local crew also required accreditation for site and show days which Showforce’s back office team also processed, this would have been a struggle for the smaller companies who didn’t have any experience of projects on this scale.

Towards the middle of June, the team arrived to begin the technical load in. They were divided into departments and were given large numbers of local labour to oversee, which were supplied by three local companies. They worked in both the Maracana stadium, where the ceremonies were held, and the rehearsal venue, where two full size fields of play were used to rehearse segments of the show. This included assisting the companies responsible for lighting, rigging, sound, automation, stage backdrops (including the Olympic Sun), projection, staging, power and special effects. The Showforce crew also provided support to the technical director and his team.


Once the load in was completed, rehearsals moved into the Maracana on 9th July and for the four weeks up until the opening ceremony, crew members practised their roles within the show. This included everything from steering boats, pushing the wheels that depicted slavery and setting the Pindorama indigenous elastic scene to placing the Olympic rings in the mirror trees, hanging festoons across the Box City and assisting French company Inflate with the inflatable scenes.

Many aspects of the show were time critical, involving up to three costume changes in quick succession, and once completed Showforce’s stage hands had to prepare for lighting the Olympic Flame in the final set. Showforce’s crew carried out their duties in a highly pressurised environment and assisted with the delivery of a perfect show.

10 of Showforce’s international crew chiefs remained in Brazil to assist with the Closing and Paralympic Ceremonies.

In total Showforce provided:

12 international crew chiefs and 8 experienced international stage hands from its UK team, 19 local crew chiefs and 16 local stage hands, who were on the ground from 28th May until 14th September and amassed 2422 shifts and 26,642 hours between them.