Image taken on April 24, 2012, of an aerial view of Maracana Stadium, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Xinhua/Renato Pizzutto/Colorsport/ZUMAPRESS)
By Eloyza Guardia
RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) -- Brazil decided to break with tradition and host the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2016 Olympic Games at Rio's legendary Maracana Stadium, instead of holding the events at the Olympic Stadium, as customary.
But nobody familiar with the venue would disagree with the decision.
Officially renamed Mario Filho Stadium in 1966, in tribute to the late Brazilian journalist, Maracana has a long and illustrious history of hosting unforgettable moments in sports.
Built to host the 1950 FIFA World Cup, Maracana was designed to be the world's largest football stadium, with a seating capacity of 200,000 people.
Every seat was taken for the much-anticipated World Cup final that year, which saw home team Brazil tragically lose 1-2 to Uruguay as tens of thousands of Brazilians looked on in horror. The shocking loss added a new word to the football lexicon: "maracanazo."
Fireworks explode over the Maracana Stadium during the opening ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Aug. 5, 2016.Xinhua/Han Yuqing
In 1969, Brazilian football legend Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known as Pele, scored his one-thousandth goal at Maracana, to the delight of wildly cheering fans.
Over the years, the venue has also served as a backdrop to major concerts and cultural events. Classic crooner Frank Sinatra sang here, as did Tina Turner and former Beatle Paul McCartney, among many others.
The stadium was completely renovated in anticipation of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and fitted with a new roof.
Today Maracana can accommodate 78,838 spectators, but what it lost in seating capacity it gained in technological innovations, including solar panels to generate part of the energy it consumes.
This year's Olympic Games are sure to add even more memorable highlights to Maracana's already rich lore.