The self-styled “greatest dancer at the Olympics” stole the limelight at the first official team welcome ceremony at the Olympic Village in Rio on 29 July when 5,000m runner Kefasi Chitsala (MAW) gatecrashed a troupe of samba dancers to show off his moves.
Chitsala’s impromptu intervention struck a chord with the audience, sparking a small dance party involving athletes, coaches, delegates and volunteers. At the ceremony, in which teams were greeted with a display of local culture and inspirational speeches, Chitsala broke free from his compatriots and surprised a group of Samba specialists dressed as trees with a selection of dance moves of his own.
“I am the greatest dancer in the Olympic Village, I would definitely win the gold,” Chitsala, 22, said. “I have done it since I was very small, and we have some great traditional dances in our country, so I thought people needed to see them. People in Rio and Malawi are the same. We love to have fun.”
Up to 10 official team welcome ceremonies are held every day. Botswana, Malawi and Maldives were among the first countries to enjoy the experience on Friday.
Chitsala’s dancing delighted the show’s Brazilian director, Patrick Fernandes. “The welcome ceremonies are all about being friendly, and we want everyone to interact and enjoy themselves, so I was happy when everyone joined in,” he said. “I’ve been working on this for over a year and the first one went really well.”
Janeth Arcain (BRA), two-time Olympic basketball medallist and mayor of the Olympic Village, gave a speech, the three anthems were played, and their flags flown. Arcain thanked the athletes. “All those hours of practice have helped you to make this a dream come true,” she said. “On behalf of Rio, our warmest welcome. We love sport, and you have our support.” Gavin Mogopa (BOT), the first Botswana athlete to qualify for an Olympic Games in judo, was inspired. “It’s great that they do this for us, and I think Rio is very famous for being friendly and welcoming all people,” he said. “We’ve had lots of fun since getting here and are making new friends already. Things like the welcome ceremony add to that.”