Around 60 Kiwi athletes trailed behind New Zealand Olympic team flagbearers Peter Burling and Blair Tuke at today's opening ceremony of the Rio Games.

The two yachties revelled in the moment as they led the team into the Maracana Stadium.

Many New Zealand representatives chose not to participate in the opening ceremony due to impending competition commitments.

They included the New Zealand women's football team who joined in the spirit by dressing up for the occasion 350km away in Belo Horizonte.


Skipper Abby Erceg was a one of a number of Football Ferns to post a photo of the team getting into the swing of things by donning their official uniform for the night ahead of their match against Colombia overnight tonight NZ time.

Burling and Tuke were joined by other members of the sailing team as well as representatives from gymnastics, swimming, tennis, weightlifting, shooting, wrestling and chef de mission Rob Waddell.

Those who were unable to march gathered in the team lounge at the Olympic Village to watch the opening ceremony which was a dazzling display of light, colour and an infectious Samba beat.

It traced Brazil's history, from its earliest people, to the coming of the Europeans along with Rio's development into a pulsating metropolis and featured Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen and a carnival atmosphere.

Athletes from seven New Zealand teams taste action for the first time overnight tonight New Zealand time with the rowing, road cycling, equestrian, rugby sevens, swimming, hockey and men's artistic gymnastics joining the Ferns who kicked off their competition on Wednesday.

Gisele wowed the audience around the world in a much simpler performance than the one originally planned for her.

Organisers announced earlier this week they were cutting a scene in the production where Gisele was originally scripted to be robbed by a local child representing the slums of Rio.

She instead used the Maracana turf as her own private cat walk in a display that was met with a loud cheer from the crowd.

Following tradition, Greece was the first team of athletes to enter the Maracana Stadium.

There is a record 207 teams competing in Rio, representing 206 countries.

More than 10,500 athletes are competing during the two-week event, but it just 6,000 chose to march during the opening ceremony.

Across the Tasman, Australian commentators calling the opening ceremony have been slammed for disrespecting the small nation of Aruba.

Channel 7's Bruce McAvaney and Aussie basketball legend Andrew Gaze have been criticised by fans for launching into a bizarre Beach Boys tangent in a light-hearted disregard of minnow nation Aruba.

Aruba walked into the Maracana Stadium just minutes before the Australian team when McAvaney and co-commentator Gaze, briefly went rogue.

Referring to the iconic Beach Boys anthem Kokomo, the pair couldn't help but sing the beachy tune as Aruba walked onto the world stage.

The voice of Australian rules footy, said: "So, Aruba, not only a country, but also the opening word of a Beach Boys song".

Gaze then went on to perform the ditty, singing: "Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I want to take you."

It was not well received with the pair being slammed on social media.

Rio's opening ceremony may have had a modest $NZ66 million budget compared to the London Games in 2012, but the presentation was no less spectacular.

The opening ceremony began with an official welcome to dignitaries, including IOC President Thomas Bach, and the acting President of Brazil, Michel Temer.

It was followed by the national anthem of Brazil and the raising of the country's famous flag.

Then the show's director and Brazilian filmmaker Fernando Meirelles got the party started with his bold celebration of his homeland on the world stage.

The flashy production, which is being watched by an audience of 3 billion around the world, included more than 5000 local performers and volunteers alongside 12 samba school groups and 20km of cables for the daring aerial display.

It didn't all go perfectly smooth.

According to reports, a group of 200 protesters gathered in the public square next to the 50,000 capacity stadium in a protest that left at least one protester injured.

Protesters claim to be campaigning against personal rights violations alleged to have been committed during the preparations for the Games.

There was also disappointment for locals with Brazilian football legend Pele revealing poor health had prevented him from lighting the Olympic cauldron.

The 75-year-old has reportedly pulled out at the last minute because of ongoing muscle pains relating to a hip operation he underwent earlier this year.

He released a statement to inform his fans why he would not take centre stage at the opening ceremony.

"Dear friends, only God is more important than my health," Pele said.

"Right now I am not in physical condition to take part in the opening of the Olympics. I take responsibility for my decisions. I have always sought not to disappoint my family or the Brazilian people."

- and Herald reporters