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The 2016 Summer Paralympics opened at Rio's iconic Maracana Stadium on Wednesday evening, 17 days after the end of the Olympics.

Brazilian daily O Globo devoted its front page Thursday to the opening ceremony, with the headline "The Paralympics move the Maracana" alongside a picture of Amy Purdy dancing with a robotic arm. The American snowboarder, who had her legs amputated below the knee at age 19, stole the show as she performed a choreographed routine with the machine — a moment meant to represent harmony between humans and technology.

Some 500 professional staff, including performers, and 2,000 volunteers took part for the ceremony whose theme was "Everybody Has A Heart." More than 4,000 athletes representing 159 nations are set to compete in 528 medal events across 22 sports. Leading the parade was Ibrahim Al Hussein, a Syrian refugee who is part of the Independent Paralympic Athletes (IPA) Team at the Games.

The ceremony was also marked by the poor reception accorded to political figures: Organizing committee president Carlos Nuzman and President Michel Temer were booed, as Brazil has been plagued by political unrest after Dilma Rousseff was removed from office.

Another unexpected moment was when Belarusian athletes carried the Russian flag to express solidarity with the Russian team, RT reports. Russian athletes were banned from the event after a report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Association found evidence of widespread doping in the country.

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Geopolitics

What Lula Needs Now To Win: Move To The Center And Mea Culpa

Despite the leftist candidate's first-place finish, the voter mood in Brazil's presidential campaign is clearly conservative. So Lula will have to move clearly to the political center to vanquish the divisive but still popular Jair Bolsonaro. He also needs to send a message of contrition to skeptical voters about past mistakes.

Brazilian votes show a polarized national opinion with two clear winners: former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and sitting president Jair Bolsonaro

Marcelo Cantelmi

-Analysis-

The first round of Brazil's presidential elections closed with two winners, a novelty but not necessarily a political surprise.

Leftist candidate and former president, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, was clearly the winner. His victory came on the back of the successes of his two previous administrations (2003-2011), kept alive today by the harsh reality that large swathes of Brazilians see no real future for themselves.

Lula, the head of the Workers Party or PT, also moved a tad toward the political Center in a bid to seduce middle-class voters, with some success. Another factor in his first-round success was a decisive vote cast against the current government, though this was less considerable than anticipated.

The other big winner of the day was the sitting president, Jair Bolsonaro. For many voters, his defects turn out to be virtues. They were little concerned by his bombastic declarations, his authoritarian bent, contempt for modernity, his retrograde views on gender and his painful management of the pandemic. They do not believe in Lula, and envisage no other alternative.

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