Paddy Barnes (blue) in action

Paddy Barnes (blue) in action

Paddy Barnes will proudly lead out Team Ireland at what is expected to be a spectacular Opening Ceremony for the 2016 Olympics in Rio tonight.

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The three-time Irish Olympian is Irish flag bearer for the Parade of Nations at the host city for the 31st Olympiad.

A TV audience of three billion is expected to watch the ceremony.

Barnes is the 7th Irish boxer after Matt Flanagan in 1928 – and the second successive Irish boxer after Katie Taylor at London 2012 – to perform the honours.

Live coverage of the ceremony begins at 11.30pm on RTÉ 2 tonight.

The opening ceremony will be held at the Maracana football stadium, a famed venue which once featured the talents of Edson Arantes do Nascimento, or Pele for short.

Approximately 11,000 athletes will take part in the Opening Ceremony to mark the official start of the Games.

Barnes, a two-time Olympic medallist, is incredibly honoured to be Irish flag bearer.

“I’m delighted to have been asked to carry the Irish flag into the Olympic Stadium at the Opening Ceremony, said the Belfast light-flyweight

“It’s an amazing feeling to represent Ireland at an Olympic Games and I’ve been lucky enough to experience it twice before. Going to my third Olympic Games as the flag bearer for Team Ireland now is just an incredible honour.

“I will be going for gold in Rio in the ring, but I will also have the responsibility of helping to build a really positive environment for all Irish athletes,” added the Holy Family BC man who qualified for Rio after winning all seven of his fights to secure the one Olympic berth in the World Series of Boxing 49kg class last year.