The Tokyo 2020 Olympics finally kicked off this Friday, after a year of delay due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Games began while they were still in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, with the Japanese capital in a state of emergency and many residents of the country adamantly opposed to the holding of the global sporting event.
And persevering in the face of the pandemic quickly established itself as a theme in the opening moments of the ceremony, which kicked off at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium and included a minute of silence for those who died.
Outside the stadium, hundreds of demonstrators carried signs reading “Long live the Olympics” and chanted “Stop the Olympics” as they marched.
Instead of a crowd of 68,000 cheering athletes from over 200 countries marching with unfurled flags, less than a thousand foreign dignitaries and diplomats, Olympic sponsors and members of the International Olympic Committee were present at the official start. games.
The Emperor of Japan Naruhito was among the guests, as was the American First Lady Jill Biden. Everyone in the stadium wore masks against the virus.
Viewers were treated to a quintessentially Japanese extravaganza featuring hundreds of performers participating in a tightly choreographed and well-rehearsed national pride display, organizers said.
The traditional pomp and pageantry that accompanies the lighting of the Olympic cauldron, symbolizing the start of the Games, will literally be a television event due to the unusual circumstances of these most unusual games.
After the release of doves signifying peace, a spectacular fireworks display will light up the Tokyo sky.
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For the first time in Olympic history, each nation was allowed to have two standard bearers – a man and a woman – for the traditional Parade of Nations.
“More than 4 billion people around the world will watch these Olympic Games”Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told NBC News ahead of the ceremony. “In this context, overcoming the difficulties of the coronavirus and being able to organize the Games, I think there is real value in that.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike acknowledged that “The road has been long, long” before the start of the Olympics.
The pandemic consumed much of the preparation for the Games, which also had to deal with the fallout from a series of scandals.