Tokyo Olympics: Highlights of the Opening Ceremony

The Tokyo Olympics have officially begun! After a long year of delays and uncertainty, the Olympic torch has finally been lit to kick the Games off. The Opening Ceremony was held on Friday and looked slightly different from what we’re used to. 

Due to Covid-19, there were no spectators allowed in the stands, forcing the athletes to wave to TV cameras rather than a stadium full of fans. However, the mood was optimistic and hopeful with the International Olympic Committee thanking Japan for embracing the Games, while also paying tribute to the country’s healthcare workers who continue to battle the pandemic. 

There was an impressive lineup of performances, including Japanese singer MISI who performed the national anthem, as well as John Legend and Keith Urban who sang John Lennon’s “imagine”. For many, one of the most iconic moments was when tennis superstar Naomi Osaka lit the Olympic Cauldron.

Here are some of our highlights of the ceremony. 

Arisa Tsubata’s entrance

The Opening Ceremony began with Tsubata, a Japanese boxer who was unable to qualify for the Olympics due to the boxing qualifier being canceled. Tsubata was also a nurse who worked on the frontlines during the pandemic. 

Even though she isn’t competing at the Games, she made quite an entrance while running on a treadmill.

The Parade of Nations

Athletes from over 200 participating countries marched into the stadium for the iconic “Parade of Nations”. The parade has been a special part of the opening ceremonies since the 1908 Olympics in London. Traditionally, each nation chooses one flag-bearer for the parade. But in 2021, they were all encouraged to select both a male and female representative to carry the nation’s flag.

Naomi Osaka lighting the Olympic Cauldron

Tennis champion Naomi Osaka had the honor of lighting the Olympic Champion. Osaka was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and Haitian father but was raised in the United States. This is the first time she is competing in the Olympics. She has always represented her birth country in competitions, and now she gets to represent Japan in the Games.

A Tribute to Japanese Culture & Tradition

There were spectacular performances that paid tribute to Japan’s longstanding culture of dance and dramatic arts. This included a performance with red string. The performers were all connected by a red string, which were to represent the inner working of the body and heart, according to producers. 

The Tongan Flagbearer makes another appearance

Taekwondo player Pita Taufatofu carried the Tongan flag for the Opening Ceremony. He first appeared as the country’s flag bearer in the Rio Olympics, going viral for his shirtless entrance. He also marched in a similar fashion at the PyeongChang Opening Ceremony, where he competed in cross-country skiing.

For the full Olympics, schedule click here. NBC will be broadcasting the Games on NBCOlympics.com as well as on the NBC Sports app. Stay tuned to our Olympics updates on the Sprongo blog.

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