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PHOTOS: Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony And Parade Of Nations

Channels Television  
Updated July 23, 2021
A young girl holds stuffed toys of Miraitowa (L) and Someity (R), the official mascots for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics Games, outside the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Behrouz MEHRI / AFP)

 

 

 

The opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics began on Friday in a nearly empty stadium after a year-long pandemic postponement and a build-up marred by scandal and controversy.

A video showing athletes training at home during the coronavirus pandemic started the show, with pink fireworks bursting into the air after a countdown.

The ceremony in the 68,000-capacity stadium is taking place before just a few hundred officials and dignitaries, including Japan’s Emperor Naruhito, French President Emmanuel Macron and US First Lady Jill Biden.

 

French President Emmanuel Macron greets people ahead of the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Dylan MARTINEZ / various sources / AFP)

 

US First Lady Jill Biden arrives for the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Leon Neal / POOL / AFP)

 

The emperor will officially declare the Games open.

 

Japan’s Emperor Naruhito (C) attends the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by STR / JIJI PRESS / AFP) / Japan OUT

 

The Olympics have faced opposition in Japan over fears the global gathering of 11,000 athletes could trigger a super-spreader event.

Organisers have put strict virus measures in place, banning overseas fans for the first time ever, and keeping domestic spectators out of all but a handful of venues.

Athletes, support staff and media are subject to strict Covid-19 protocols, including regular testing and daily health checks.

 

Dancers perform during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by HANNAH MCKAY / POOL / AFP)

 

Dancers perform during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Andrej ISAKOVIC / AFP)

 

Performers assemble the Olympic Rings during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Dylan MARTINEZ / POOL / AFP)

 

Japanese singer Misia sings Japan’s national anthem “Kimi Ga Yo” during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by HANNAH MCKAY / POOL / AFP)

 

A dancer performs during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Jeff PACHOUD / AFP)

 

A torchbearer carries the Olympic torch in the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP)

 

Japan’s tennis player Naomi Osaka is seen after lighting the flame of hope in the Olympic Cauldron during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by HANNAH MCKAY / various sources / AFP)

 

Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka holds the Olympic Torch before lighting the flame of hope in the Olympic Cauldron during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by HANNAH MCKAY / POOL / AFP)

 

An overview shows Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka standing after lighting the flame of hope in the Olympic Cauldron during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Antonin THUILLIER / AFP)

 

 

Polls have consistently found a majority of Japanese are against the Games, with opinion ranging from weary indifference to outright hostility.

But there was plenty of enthusiasm outside the Olympic Stadium in the hours before the ceremony, as hundreds of people gathered hoping to soak up the atmosphere and watch the fireworks expected during the extravaganza.

Mako Fukuhara arrived six hours before the ceremony to grab a spot.

“Until now it didn’t feel like the Olympics, but now we are by the stadium, it feels like the Olympics,” she told AFP as people snapped selfies nearby.

 

Dancers perform around the Olympic rings under a fireworks display during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Andrej ISAKOVIC / AFP)

 

Fireworks light up the sky over the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Charly TRIBALLEAU / AFP)

 

 

An overview shows the Japanese national flag being carried during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Antonin THUILLIER / POOL / AFP)

 

Nigeria’s delegation parade during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)

 

Nigeria’s delegation parade during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)

 

Nigeria’s delegation parade during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)

 

Liberia’s flag bearer Ebony Morrison leads the delegation during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)

 

Libya’s flag bearer Alhussein Ghambour leads the delegation during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)

 

Canada’s flag bearers Nathan Hirayama (3L) and Miranda Ayim lead their delegation as they parade during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)

 

Cameroon’s delegation parade during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)

 

Qatar’s flag bearer Tala Abujbara leads the delegation during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)

 

North Macedonia’s flag bearers Dejan Georgievski (C-L) and North Macedonia’s flag bearer Arbresha Rexhepi (C-R) lead their delegation as they parade during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)

 

Canada’s delegation parade during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)

 

Britain’s flag bearers Hannah Mills (L) and Mohamed Sbihi lead the delegation during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony’s parade of athletes, at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (Photo by HANNAH MCKAY / POOL / AFP)

 

Cambodia’s flag bearer Sokong Pen leads the delegation during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)

 

Guinea-Bissau’s flag bearer Taciana Cesar leads the delegation during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)

 

An overview shows Cuba’s delegation entering the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Antonin THUILLIER / AFP)

 

Guyana’s delegation parade during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)

 

Cyprus’ delegation parade during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)

 

Gabon’s delegation parade during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)

 

Refugee Olympic Team’s flag bearer Yusra Mardini Jorunnardottir and Refugee Olympic Team’s flag bearer Tachlowini Gabriyesos lead the delegation during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)

 

Afghanistan’s flag bearer Kimia Yousofi and Afghanistan’s flag bearer Farzad Mansouri lead the delegation during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)

 

Iceland’s delegation parade during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)

 

Ireland’s flag bearer Kellie Anne Harrington and Ireland’s flag bearer Brendan Irvine and their delegation enter the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)

 

Aruba’s flag bearer Allyson Ponson and Aruba’s flag bearer Mikel Schreuders and their delegation parade during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)

 

Members of the United Arab Emirates’ delegation parade during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Andrej ISAKOVIC / AFP)

 

Argentina’s flag bearer Cecilia Carranza Saroli and Argentina’s flag bearer Santiago Raul Lange lead the delegation during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)

 

Iceland’s flag bearers Snaefridur Sol (R) and Iceland’s Anton Mckee (2R) parade with the delegation during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Andrej ISAKOVIC / AFP)

 

Angola’s flag bearer Natalia Santos leads the delegation during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)

 

Aruba’s flag bearer Allyson Ponson and Aruba’s flag bearer Mikel Schreuders and their delegation parade during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)

 

Yemen’s flag bearer Ahmed Ayash and the delegation parade during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)

 

Albania’s flag bearer Briken Calja (L) leads the delegation during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)

 

Members of Israel’s delegation parade during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Andrej ISAKOVIC / AFP)

 

Israel’s flag bearer Hanna Minenko (L) and Israel’s flag bearer Yakov Toumarkin lead the delegation during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)

 

Yemen’s flag bearer Ahmed Ayash leads the delegation during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony’s parade of athletes, at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (Photo by HANNAH MCKAY / POOL / AFP)

 

Italy’s delegation parade during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)

 

Andorra’s flag bearer Monica Doria Vilarrubla and Andorra’s flag bearer Pol Moya lead the delegation during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)

 

Chad’s delegation parade during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)

 

Equatorial Guinea’s flag bearer Alba Mbo Nchama and Equatorial Guinea’s flag bearer Benjamin Enzema lead the delegation during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)

 

Saint Lucia’s flag bearer Levern Spencer and Saint Lucia’s flag bearer Jean-Luc Zephir lead the delegation during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)

 

Saint Kitts and Nevis’ flag bearer Amya Clarke and Saint Kitts and Nevis’ flag bearer Jason Rogers and their delegation parade during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)

 

South Korea’s Kim Yeon-koung and South Korea’s flag bearer Hwang Sun-woo lead the delegation during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)

 

Somalia’s flag bearer Ramla Said Ahmed Ali leads the delegation during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)

 

St Vincent and the Grenadines’s flag bearer Shafiqua Maloney leads the delegation during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)

 

Senegal’s delegation parade during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)

 

A member of Colombia’s delegation takes a selfie near members of Kenya’s delegation during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Andrej ISAKOVIC / AFP)

 

Members of China’s delegation wave flags as they enter the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Franck FIFE / AFP)

 

Solomon Islands’ flag bearer Sharon Firisua and Solomon Islands’ flag bearer Edgar Richardson Iro lead the delegation during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)

 

Senegal’s flag bearer Mbagnick Ndiaye and Senegal’s flag bearer Jeanne Boutbien and their delegation parade during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)

 

Switzerland’s delegation parade during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)

 

Hong Kong’s flag bearers Tse Ying Suet (L) and Cheung Ka Long lead their delegation as they parade during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)

 

South Africa’s flag bearer Phumelela Luphumlo Mbande leads the delegation during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)

 

An overview shows Burundi’s delegation entering the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Antonin THUILLIER / AFP)

 

Bangladesh’s delegation parade during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)

 

Jamaica’s flag bearers Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (R) and Ricardo Brown parade with the delegation during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)

 

‘Determined’

Traditionally a highlight of any Summer Games, featuring the parade of nations and the lighting of the Olympic cauldron, Tokyo’s opening ceremony has been drastically pared back.

Fewer than 1,000 dignitaries and officials are present at the stadium, and in a sign of how divisive the Games remain, several top sponsors including Toyota and Panasonic are not attending.

A few hundred protestors demonstrated against the Games outside the stadium as the ceremony began.

Tokyo is battling a surge in virus cases, and is under emergency measures that means bars and restaurants must shut by 8:00 pm and cannot sell alcohol.

 

Police officers block protestors protesting against the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games outside the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Yuki IWAMURA / AFP)

 

Japan’s flag bearer Rui Hachimura (C) leads the delegation as they parade during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)

 

Portuguese triple jumper Patricia Mamona (C) reacts with members of her delegation during the during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Andrej ISAKOVIC / AFP)

 

USA’s flag bearer Eddy Alvares ands USA’s flag bearer Sue Bird and their delegation parade during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)

 

USA’s delegation parade during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)

 

Members of USA’s delegation pose as they parade during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)

 

France’s flag bearer Samir Ait Said leads the delegation during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)

 

 

 

 

– Dogged by controversy –
But Olympic officials have put a brave face on the unusual circumstances, with IOC chief Thomas Bach insisting cancellation was never on the table.

“Over the past 15 months we had to take many decisions on very uncertain grounds,” he said this week. “We had doubts every day. There were sleepless nights.

“We can finally see at the end of the dark tunnel. Cancellation was never an option for us. The IOC never abandons the athletes… we did it for the athletes.”

There are also hefty financial incentives in play. Insiders estimate the IOC would have been on the hook for around $1.5 billion in lost broadcasting revenues if the Games had been cancelled.

The pandemic has not been the only hiccup in preparations though, with scandals ranging from corruption during the bidding process to plagiarism allegations over the design of the Tokyo 2020 logo.

The controversies kept coming right up to the eve of the Games, with the opening ceremony’s director sacked on Thursday for making a joke referencing the Holocaust in a video from 1998.

Back in the sporting arenas, a new generation of Olympic stars are looking to shine after a decade dominated by the likes of Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps.

US swimmer Caeleb Dressel could target seven gold medals, and in track and field, 400 metre hurdlers Karsten Warholm of Norway and the USA’s Sydney McLaughlin are among those hoping to emerge as household names.

Gymnastics meanwhile will see Simone Biles attempt to crown her dazzling career by equalling Larisa Latynina’s record of nine Olympic gold medals.

New Olympic sports will also be on display in Tokyo, with surfing, skateboarding, sport climbing and karate all making their debut.