4 to Watch: Opening Ceremony Kicks Off 2016 Rio Olympics

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The 2016 Rio Olympics are here. 

But before the swimming, gymnastics, basketball and track and field captivate hundreds of millions around the world, the Opening Ceremony set the stage for the drama to come. Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira and Hoda Kotb host this celebration of Brazilian culture, live on NBC 4 New York.

Watch the Opening Ceremony live on your phone or tablet here. And if you're looking for a place to embrace the stunning display with your Team USA compadres, check out these viewing parties in the tri-state area or head to Rio on the Hudson."

Once the games are underway Bob Costas will host primetime for an 11th time. Al Michaels will host daytime on NBC, Ryan Seacrest will host late night, while Dan Patrick, Rebecca Lowe, Carolyn Manno and Liam McHugh will also serve as hosts.

Without further ado, here are 4 things to watch during the opening night spectacle.

1. Michael Phelps Named Flag Bearer

With 18 gold medals, swimmer Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time — and he had one more honor bestowed upon him this week when it was announced he would be Team USA’s flag bearer during the Opening Ceremony

Phelps, the first American male swimmer to qualify for a fifth Olympic Games, was chosen by a vote of his fellow Team USA members.

"I'm honored to be chosen, proud to represent the U.S., and humbled by the significance of carrying the flag and all it stands for," Phelps told the USOC. "For Sydney, I just wanted to make the team. For Athens, I wanted to win gold for my country. For Beijing, I wanted to do something nobody else had done. In London, I wanted to make history. And now, I want to walk in the Opening Ceremony, take it all in, represent America in the best possible way and make my family proud. This time around, it's about so much more than medals." 

Phelps is only the second swimmer to lead the U.S. delegation into the Opening Ceremony and the fifth swimmer to serve as flag bearer for Team USA. Four-time Olympic medalist Gary Hall carried the flag into the Opening Ceremony of the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal.

Must-See: Phelps dishes on Olympic mindset, his son and why he returned to pool after retiring

2. The Performances

Brazilian superstars Anitta, Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil are headlining the showcase. 

At just 23, Anitta told Billboard magazine the opportunity to perform in front of a worldwide audience was incredible.  

"I come from the ghetto in Brazil where we don't have a lot of career opportunities, so I'm sure my family and people who live there never imagined that one day I'd become a singer and be able to perform at an event like the Olympics," Anitta said.  

Also taking center stage will be veteran musicians Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil. The pair rose to prominence in the 1960s and 1970s as part of Rio’s influential tropicália movement. They're expected to perform music that not only played a role in shaping that sound but that in 1968 also scored a revolutionary moment in Brazil’s history. Considered outlaws in their day because of their beliefs, the pair was exiled to London for three years. 

Must-See: What you've missed in Olympic sports since London

3. Team USA Uniforms

The USA contingent will be dressed from head to toe in Ralph Lauren sportswear. The ensemble will include white denim jeans tapered at the ankles, patriotic tees, navy blazers bearing the signature Polo pony logo and with red-white-and-blue striped boat shoes. 

David Lauren, executive vice president of Ralph Lauren’s global advertising, marketing and corporate communications, told USA Today the fashion company was going for a very specific Brazilian feel for the games. 

"Something that's relaxed and easy but also celebrates American colors, celebrates patriotism, but something that doesn’t feel too warm for athletes," he explained.

Must-See: Rio Opening Ceremony outfits revealed

4. Brazil Told Through the History of Dance

Renowned filmmaker Fernando Meirelles, director of the 2002 Oscar-nominated film spotlighting the slums of Rio "City of God," will lead an acclaimed cast of directors, to include Andrucha Waddington, Rosa Magalhaes and Daniela Thomas. Choreographer Deborah Colker will manage 6,000 volunteers to dance in front of a capacity crowd of 78,000.

Among the anticipated segments is one detailing the colonization of Brazil, which choreographer Colker said "will be told without being didactic, in an artistic way," according to the Olympics' official website. 

"I am bringing a lot from the studies that I had been carrying out," said Colker, who has been running rehearsals since May. "There will be new things, a new space that I have invented and that we are working on here. I think it will be a masterpiece ... I love it when we manage to tell a story in a new, totally unexpected way. The ceremony is full of protocol but I am very proud of what we are doing. We are working with a lot of passion."

Must-See: Opening Ceremony through Olympians' eyes

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