After year-long delay caused by the pandemic, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games got off to a subdued start Friday.
Japan’s Emperor Naruhito declared the Games opened at a ceremony held at the mammoth New National Stadium largely behind closed doors.
Besides the athletes and officials, the opening ceremony was watched by about 950 people in the stadium in order to minimize pandemic-related risks.
Fireworks lit up the National Stadium after the countdown to Tokyo 2020 was completed. Performers took the center-stage with a light show.
Athletes and officials representing 205 National Olympic Committees and the IOC Refugee Olympic Team marched through in the Parade of Nations.
The Greek Olympic contingent led the athletes’ march. After host nation Japan marched out as the last contingent, fireworks concluded the Parade of Nations.
Only volunteers and a group of diplomats, foreign dignitaries, Olympic sponsors and members of the International Olympic Committee were there to greet the athletes in the largely empty stadium.
They included International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, French President Emmanuel Macron and US First Lady Bill Jiden.
The Olympic community paid tribute to Covid-19 victims.
A moment of silence was observed in honor of Israeli Olympic team members who were killed at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
In a ceremony called “Unity in Diversity” the Tokyo 2020 emblem was unveiled.
Hundreds of protesters who gathered outside the stadium chanted slogans, including, “stop the Olympics.”
Until last minute, the Games was under the threat of being cancelled amid vehement local opposition and more participants testing positive in the Olympic village
As of Friday, 106 cases of Covid-19 were reported in the Games village. This includes 11 athletes.
The XXXII Olympiad is the first in Olympics history being held without public spectators at the venue.
Running from 23 July to 8 August, this Olympic Games will see medals awarded in 339 events across 33 sports encompassing 46 disciplines.
The Olympic Games were originally scheduled to take place in 2020, but was delayed by a year due to the pandemic. But it will still be called “Tokyo 2020.”
The 2020 Games will mark the second time that Japan has hosted the Summer Olympic Games. The first one was also held in Tokyo in 1964.
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