One of the most heard chants Saturday night at the Oran Olympic Stadium was the “si!” that footballer Cristiano Ronaldo made famous, sung here by thousands of Algerians on the way from the Portuguese mission to the Mediterranean Games.
At the opening ceremony, which ended before midnight, Portugal was the sixth country to parade, with part of the 159 athletes summoned (the second part arrives on Monday), and the stands reacted effusively, as during a great part of the event.
“Ronaldo, Ronaldo, Ronaldo”, in addition to chants across the country, were audible, but it was the “si!”, which accompanied the choreography of the Portuguese athletes, imitating Ronaldo’s celebration when he scores goals, that jumped to view.
The standard-bearers, who actually did not live up to their name, bringing a large flag, were table tennis player João Monteiro, who participated in the Olympic Games four times, and gymnast Filipa Martins, who was present in two.
The two led an entourage that was one of the most ‘celebrated’ among the European nations present, in a parade whose apotheosis was saved for the end, with the passage of the Algerians.
The ceremony took place in front of practically packed stands in the enclosure of about 40,000 people, with the exception of a section of the stadium, although many more thousands were, hours before the start, outside the enclosure.
The show that preceded the parade brought together music, dance and other artistic expressions, as well as the history and geography of Oran and Algeria, from the Sahara desert to Algiers or Oran, to launch the 19th edition of the event that brings together 26 countries in mediterranean basin.
Cheers and chants of independence from a country that celebrates 60 years since achieving it, vis-à-vis France, were sung throughout the ceremony, but especially as the French delegation passed by, even though they were also received with enthusiasm.
“One, two, three, long live Algeria”, was the most repeated in the session, before a country that celebrates, on July 5, six decades of independence after colonial occupation, hosting the biggest sporting event in its territory in decades.
The event was officially declared open by the country’s president, Abdelmadjid Tebboune.
Before, the only game with Portuguese participation was in the men’s water polo under-18, in which the second round in group B returned to a defeat, this time against France, but in a less uneven partial, by 15-10.
The Sunday program features football, karate, table tennis, petanque, badminton and gymnastics, in addition to Greco-Roman wrestling and polo, with possible finals in karate and gymnastics.
The Oran2022 Mediterranean Games started Saturday and will run until July 6th, with more than 3,000 athletes from 26 different countries, including 159 Portuguese in 20 disciplines.
Among the Portuguese contingent are several Olympic athletes, such as Evelise Veiga, Cátia Azevedo, Vera Barbosa, Tsanko Arnaudov, Tiago Pereira, Lorene Bazolo and Liliana Cá, gymnast Filipa Martins, marksmen Joana Castelão, Sara Antunes, João Costa and João Paulo Azevedo , swimmers Ana Catarina Monteiro, Francisco Santos, Ana Rodrigues, Gabriel Lopes, Alexis Santos and Tamila Holub or also table tennis players Jieni Shao and João Monteiro.