Tokyo Olympics: An opening ceremony like no other as Japan welcomes the world

Tokyo Olympics: An opening ceremony like no other as Japan welcomes the world

Performers seen inside the stadium during the opening ceremony.

TOKYO – Performances and pyrotechnics still featured prominently, but these are unusual times and Tokyo staged an opening ceremony like no other as it welcomed the Olympic Games back to Japan after 57 years on Friday night (July 23).

Most conspicuous were the empty seats in the cavernous, 68,000-capacity Tokyo Olympic Stadium, a stark reminder of the invisible enemy the world continues to battle.

The Covid-19 pandemic had already meant the stadium’s big unveiling – refurbishment works were completed in late 2019 – was held back by a year, after the Olympics were postponed for the only time in its history.

A continued struggle against the virus then moved organisers to bar spectators from all events earlier this month. This resulted in the absence of the frenetic energy from the stands that usually accompanies the opening ceremony.

In a nod to gender and racial diversity, tennis star Naomi Osaka lit the cauldron to a muted reception after Emperor Naruhito formally opened the Olympics – as his grandfather Hirohito did in 1964 – with only 15 other global leaders in attendance which included United States First Lady Jill Biden.

It was sobering, but necessary.

On Friday, 19 new Covid-19 cases were reported in the Olympic Village, a daily record rise in cases since organisers began disclosing data this month. A total of 110 cases linked to the Olympics have been recorded since July 2, when the organisers started offering daily updates.

There were protests even on the day of the ceremony, most notably in front of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building as the Olympic torch reached its final stop before it made its way to the stadium. Tokyo is also in a fourth state of emergency – declared earlier this month – and reported 1,979 new infections on Thursday, which is the highest daily count since mid-January.

But there has also been evidence that other segments of its residents have taken a more welcoming stance.

As buses ferried athletes, officials, journalists and delegates to the opening ceremony, locals were seen lining the barricaded streets leading to the stadium – many with cameras in hand, some with encouraging signs. They also thronged a park next to Japan’s Olympic Museum, with a monument of the Olympic Rings a particularly popular spot.

The city might be a little deflated, but it is not entirely dispirited.

Tokyo Olympics: An opening ceremony like no other as Japan welcomes the world

Tennis player Naomi Osaka lights the Olympic cauldron at the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo Olympic Games. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

The thousands of unfilled seats inside the stadium, however, remained an unusual, uneasy sight all night.

Despite this, the Team Singapore contingent, who looked snappy in their blazers and Japan-inspired ties and scarfs, were all smiles as they waved around the empty arena along with the approximately 6,000 athletes and team officials.

Tokyo Olympics: An opening ceremony like no other as Japan welcomes the world

Singapore’s athletes at the opening ceremony. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

The Republic will be represented by 23 athletes across 12 sports in Tokyo but only six were in the 12-strong contingent that marched. Some have yet to arrive in the country as they adhere to strict travel schedules tied to their events, while others – like shooter Adele Tan and fencer Kiria Tikanah Abdul Rahman – preferred to rest in preparation for early battles on Saturday.

Shuttler Loh Kean Yew, who was Singapore’s joint-flag bearer with table tennis player Yu Mengyu, said he was living his “childhood dream” being at the Olympics.

“Being here in Tokyo finally, after one year of postponement and the uncertainties, feels very surreal,” said Mr Loh, 24. “Even though the stadium is empty, being here fills me with plenty of excitement. I’m extremely honoured to carry the Singapore flag tonight, and will do my very best at the Olympic Games.”

Ms Yu, meanwhile, called being a flag bearer a “major landmark” in her life.

Tokyo marks Olympics opening ceremony with fireworks

link youtube: https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZchN-_H_G5g?feature=oembed

Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin, who is also the Singapore National Olympic Council president, flew into Tokyo on the eve of the ceremony, and wrote in a Facebook post that it was a “pity there is no audience” in a “beautiful stadium”.

“But we are living in extraordinary times and some things can’t be helped,” said Mr Tan. “The organisers are doing what they can to keep us all safe and to keep things moving smoothly. I hope that the sportsmen and women will be able to inspire us through their performances and contests as they have done through the ages.”

Even without spectators, elaborate choreography and large groups of dancers still entertained in performances that showcased Japan’s culture and history.

In one segment, a wooden installation of the Olympic Rings was erected in the middle of the stadium – the rings were crafted with wood grown from trees planted by athletes when the Olympics came to Tokyo in 1964.

Tokyo Olympics: An opening ceremony like no other as Japan welcomes the world

Athletes with the Olympic rings at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympic Games. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

History, however, largely took a back seat at Friday night’s ceremony, which is tied to the concept of “Moving Forward”, a reference to recovering from the pandemic.

On Tuesday, the International Olympic Committee amended its motto to “Faster, Higher, Stronger – Together”, with the last word an addition made to “adapt it to our times”, explained its president Thomas Bach. And what novel times they are.

News Related

OTHER NEWS

Kaizer Chiefs latest | Stuart Baxter apologizes to Amakhosi supporters

© Provided by The South African Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter has apologized to the club supporters following their 4-1 drubbing against Royal AM at the FNB Stadium. READ | ... Read more »

Championship round-up: Cherries go top as Fulham and WBA drop points

© PA Images Championship club Derby’s manager Wayne Rooney Bournemouth are now top of the Sky Bet Championship table eight matches in after West Brom and Fulham both dropped points ... Read more »

Rafa Benitez insists Everton are a work in progress after second-half collapse

Boss Rafa Benitez insisted Everton remain a work in progress after the Toffees’ collapse at Aston Villa. They shipped three goals in nine second-half minutes to fall to a 3-0 ... Read more »

Feestwedstrijd voor Ajax: Daramy maakt zijn eerste doelpunt

© ProShots Feestwedstrijd voor Ajax: Daramy maakt zijn eerste doelpunt De thuiswedstrijd tegen SC Cambuur is een feestwedstrijd aan het worden voor Ajax. Invaller Mohamed Daramy heeft als invaller zijn ... Read more »

Lens v Lille derby suspended amid crowd trouble

© Provided by Khaleej Times Lens v Lille derby suspended amid crowd trouble The kickoff to the second half of the Ligue 1 derby between RC Lens and Lille was ... Read more »

Volkswagen Polo restylée (2021) : les photos de la citadine allemande remaniée

© Autonews Volkswagen Polo restylée (2021) : les photos de la citadine allemande remaniée Nouveau look pour la Polo de sixième génération qui voit sa carrosserie retouchée et se rapprocher ... Read more »

Watch: Naby Keita's brilliant reaction after scoring stunner for Liverpool

Naby Keita produced an Eric Cantona-esque celebration after scoring in Liverpool‘s 3-0 win over Crystal Palace at Anfield.  © PA Images Naby Keita Liverpool Since joining Liverpool from RB Leipzig in ... Read more »

Kayky introduces himself to fans as he gets Man City career started

Kayky thanked his new Manchester City teammates for helping him to settle in his first week at the club. The Brazilian teenager, 18, was signed by the Blue s from ... Read more »

Dean Smith reveals his Everton trick as Leon Bailey becomes Aston Villa hero

Dean Smith praised new Holte End hero Leon Bailey after his 21-minute cameo helped to blow Everton away in a scintillating performance at Villa Park. The £30million signing capped his ... Read more »

Pep Guardiola's crowd comments reminiscent of Jose Mourinho's during his Chelsea days

After Wednesday night’s emphatic 6-3 win over RB Leipzig, Pep Guardiola took the opportunity to encourage Manchester City fans to attend their side’s home game with Southampton on Saturday. Guardiola ... Read more »

Canadiens @ Senators Rookie Camp Scrimmage: Game thread, rosters, and how to watch

© Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images Rookie Camp: Montreal Canadiens @ Ottawa Senators How to watch Start time: 4:05 PM EDT / 1:05 PM PDT Streaming: YouTube ... Read more »

Kein Austria-Heimsieg: "Verstehe, dass die Fans warten"

© Gepa Fischer Die Wiener Austria muss weiter auf den ersten Saison-Heimsieg warten. Am Samstag holten die “Veilchen” ein 0:0 gegen Altach. Damit bauten die Wiener ihre Ungeschlagen-Serie aus, verloren ... Read more »

Darum zählte das Ducksch-Freistoßtor nicht

Im Nordderby zwischen Werder Bremen und dem Hamburger SV geht es ordentlich zur Sache. Das aberkannte Ausgleichstor von Werder sorgt für Diskussionen. © Bereitgestellt von sport1.de Darum zählte das Ducksch-Freistoßtor ... Read more »

Griezmann, c'est de pire en pire

© Fournis par Sports.fr Un 3e match sans but pour le numéro 8 de l’Atlético. Déjà moribond lors de ses 3 matches du début de saison avec le FC Barcelone, ... Read more »

Johan Derksen stopt niet en tekent voor twee jaar bij Talpa

© Aangeboden door Voetbalzone Johan Derksen gaat een nieuw contract voor twee jaar tekenen en samen met Wilfred Genee en René van der Gijp een dagelijkse talkshow doen op SBS ... Read more »

MotoGP, GP di Misano 2021. Francesco Bagnaia: "Vorrei trasmettere la passione per la moto"

MISANO ADRIATICO – Le statistiche sono spesso utili per certificare la grandezza di un’impresa. © Moto.it Quella che riguarda Francesco Bagnaia dice che era dal 2009 che un pilota italiano ... Read more »

1:1! Admira gibt Sieg gegen Hartberg spät aus der Hand!

Keinen Sieger brachte am Samstag die Bundesliga-Partie zwischen dem FC Flyeralarm Admira und TSV Hartberg hervor. Joseph Ganda brachte die Admira mit seinem ersten Saisontor in Führung, doch Dario Tadic gelang in der Schlussphase der ... Read more »

AC Milan : une enquête ouverte après des chants racistes visant Bakayoko

La fédération italienne de football a ouvert une enquête après que Tiemoue Bakayoko ait été victimes de chants racistes entonnés par des supporters de la Lazio. © Icon Sport Tiémoué ... Read more »

RC Lens - LOSC (1-0) : Les 6 leçons à retenir de ce bouillant derby du Nord

Le RC Lens s’est imposé lors de ce derby du Nord face au LOSC (1-0). © Fournis par 90min Le RC Lens renoue avec le succès face au LOSC (1-0). ... Read more »

L'Athletic Club frustre l'Atlético

© Fournis par Sofoot Atlético de Madrid 0-0 Athletic Club Décidément, l’Atlético n’y arrive pas. Trois jours après son match nul 0-0 face au FC Porto, en Ligue des champions, ... Read more »

Real Madrid : épaté par Camavinga, Ancelotti fuit les dossiers Haaland et Mbappé

Carlo Ancelotti, l’entraîneur du Real Madrid, s’est présenté en conférence de presse ce samedi. L’occasion d’évoquer la révélation Camavinga, notamment… © Icon Sport Carlo Ancelotti Carlo Ancelotti, l’entraîneur du Real ... Read more »

Trotz Insolvenz: Rooney will Derby die Treue halten

Derby (SID) – Das englische Fußball-Idol Wayne Rooney will seinem taumelnden Traditionsklub Derby County trotz Insolvenzverfahrens die Treue halten. “Ich habe schon oft gesagt, dass ich mich diesem Verein, den ... Read more »

L'Atlético accroché par Bilbao

SOCCER-LIGA:L’Atlético accroché par Bilbao © Reuters/Sergio Perez L’Atlético accroché par Bilbao par Martin Schmuda (iDalgo) Dans le cadre de la cinquième journée de Liga, l’Atlético de Madrid a concédé le ... Read more »

Tuchel : « J'étais heureux que Harry Kane reste à Tottenham »

© Fournis par Sofoot Pour l’amour du jeu. Malgré l’intérêt de Manchester City cet été, Harry Kane n’a pas bougé. Le deuxième meilleur buteur de l’histoire de Tottenham portera le ... Read more »

Liga: Joao Felix traite l'arbitre de "fou" et risque une lourde suspension

© AFP Joao Felix contestant le carton jaune dont il écope pour son geste sur Vencedor Joao Felix risque entre 4 et 12 matchs de suspension pour avoir insulté l’arbitre ... Read more »

Atlético Madrid : nouvelle prestation décevante pour Antoine Griezmann

Antoine Griezmann, l’attaquant français de l’Atlético Madrid, a dû mal à retrouver un statut d’homme décisif depuis son retour chez les Colchoneros. © Icon Sport Antoine Griezmann Antoine Griezmann, l’attaquant ... Read more »

Incidents à la pause de Lens-Lille

© Fournis par Sofoot Chaud comme une baraque à frites. Le derby du Nord entre le Racing Club de Lens et Lille, comptant pour la sixième journée de la Ligue ... Read more »

Panthers elevate CB Rashaan Melvin

© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Rashaan Melvin now has an opportunity to play in a game for the first time since the 2019 season. The Panthers made the veteran ... Read more »

Bellator 266: Phil Davis vs. Yoel Romero live results and highlights

Bellator 266: Phil Davis vs. Yoel Romero full live results and highlights. © Provided by Fansided Bellator 266 went down on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, starting at 7 p.m. ET. The ... Read more »

Sky looking to build playoff momentum vs. Fever

Perhaps a visit from the last-place Indiana Fever can help the struggling Chicago Sky build some momentum in advance of the WNBA playoffs. Desperate for a victory, the Sky can ... Read more »

Thrilling but brief cameo inspires Aston Villa in win over Everton – player ratings

© PA Images Leon Bailey and Ollie Watkins celebrate Aston Villa goal against Everton Aston Villa took some steps in the right direction after an indifferent start to the season ... Read more »

Real Madrid announce squad for La Liga match against Valencia

© Photo by Helios de la Rubia/Real Madrid via Getty Images Real Madrid have published their squad list for Sunday’s away match against Valencia, a tough game just four days ... Read more »

Deshalb brach Modeste in Tränen aus

Anthony Modeste erzielt beim Remis gegen Leipzig schon seinen vierten Saisontreffer. Anschließend kullern beim Torjäger die Tränen. © Bereitgestellt von sport1.de Deshalb brach Modeste in Tränen aus Der 1. FC ... Read more »

Joao Felix: Gelb und Gelb-Rot in zehn Sekunden

Madrid/München – Atletico Madrid ist gegen Athletic Bilbao nicht über ein 0:0 hinausgekommen. Und doch lieferte die Partie gleich zwei Aufreger. © imago images/NurPhoto Joao Felix Mega-Talent Joao Felix wurde ... Read more »

Premier, il Liverpool ne fa tre al Palace e resta in vetta. Manchester City bloccato sul pari, cade l'Everton

Il Liverpool resta saldamente in vetta alla Premier League. Spazza via (3-0) il Crystal Palace e mette pressione al Manchester United (impegnato domenica alle 15 a Londra contro il West Ham) ... Read more »

Live Eredivisie: Ajax laat geen spaan heel van Cambuur

Tijdens de vijfde speelronde van de Eredivisie staat het eerste treffen tussen twee ploegen uit de traditionele top-3 op het programma. Zondag treffen PSV en Feyenoord elkaar in Eindhoven. © ... Read more »

Meesteraangever Tadic passeert magische grens

© ProShots Meesteraangever Tadic passeert magische grens Ajax heeft geen kind aan SC Cambuur en staat bij rust al op een 4-0 voorsprong. Dusan Tadic was de aangever bij twee ... Read more »

Inter, Inzaghi: "Temevo il Bologna. Brozovic e Lautaro insostituibili"

Simone Inzaghi ha commentato ai microfoni di DAZN la roboante vittoria ottenuta contro il Bologna. Le dichiarazioni dell’allenatore dell’Inter. © Fornito da 90min Simone Inzaghi | CPS Images/Getty Images BOLOGNA ... Read more »

"La Fiorentina fu a un passo da Maradona, van Basten e Rummenigge". La rivelazione

Ranieri Pontello, ex presidente della Fiorentina, ha raccontato alcuni retroscena legati alla sua esperienza in viola. Le dichiarazioni ai microfoni di Lady Radio. © Fornito da 90min Diego Maradona | ... Read more »