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Tokyo Olympics 2020 Opening Ceremony Highlights: The Olympic flame has been lit and the games begin

Tokyo Olympics 2020 Opening Ceremony Highlights: The postponed Olympics kickstarted with an opening ceremony in Tokyo on Friday.

By: Sports Desk |
Updated: July 24, 2021 5:01:51 am
Olympics 2020 Opening Ceremony: The world's grandest sports event opens on Friday. (AP)

Tokyo Olympics 2020 Opening Ceremony Highlights: It’s an Olympics like no other — and the Tokyo Games are surely that — but this is an event that has persevered through wars, boycotts and now a pandemic over its 125-year modern history. The Tokyo Games were thrown open with a grand opening ceremony in Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium on Friday night.

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The Tokyo Olympics have already broken new ground because of the 12-month delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic, pushing it into an odd-numbered year for the first time. But with no fans permitted in Japan, it has the distinction of being the first Games without spectators. India had 19 of their athletes represent the country in the opening ceremony of the grand event on Friday.

Boxing great MC Mary Kom and Indian hockey team skipper Manpreet Singh were the flag-bearers at Japan National Stadium.

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Tokyo Olympics 2020 Opening Ceremony Highlights:

23:11 (IST)23 Jul 2021
''The greatest honor'': Osaka lights Olympic cauldron

Osaka became the first tennis player to light the Olympic cauldron. She's also one of the few active athletes to be given the honor. Australian sprinter Cathy Freeman lit the cauldron for the 2000 Sydney Games and went on to win gold in the 400 meters.

23:08 (IST)23 Jul 2021
Tokyo Games open with pomp despite circumstance

The 2020 Olympics officially opened Friday with a barrage of fireworks, nods to Japan’s history and culture, and a mesmerizing drone display over Tokyo’s night sky. And, of course, without fans there to see it. The pomp of these games is unlikely to escape its circumstance — namely, that the quadrennial event is being staged a year late, in front of empty grandstands, against the will of many in Japan and at the risk of infection for those involved.

22:19 (IST)23 Jul 2021
PM Modi sends his wishes

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday wished his Japanese counterpart Yoshihide Suga for the Olympics which got underway in Tokyo and said "we look forward to a season of incredible performances by the world's best sportspersons". Wishing PM Suga and Japan the very best for Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, Modi tweeted, "We look forward to a season of incredible performances by the world's best sportspersons!"

22:00 (IST)23 Jul 2021
A Freudian slip at the ceremony!

The commentator in Sony Sports India said the Bhutan archer will play against Indian archer Dipa Karmakar (when Bhutan's contingent walked out).

21:39 (IST)23 Jul 2021
Did you know?

Tokyo Olympic flame is the first powered by hydrogen.  Inspired by the sun, the Tokyo Olympic cauldron is designed to be better for the planet. The flame at Tokyo’s National Stadium and another cauldron burning along the waterfront near Tokyo Bay throughout the games will be sustained in part by hydrogen, the first time the fuel source will be used to power an Olympic fire.

20:47 (IST)23 Jul 2021
WATCH: Olympic Games kick off with fireworks
20:41 (IST)23 Jul 2021
Artists at Work

A series of 50 pictograms came to life with the Japanese comedy duo of MASA and hitoshi, dressed in blue and white, enacting all Olympic events. The pantomime artists — influenced by Charlie Chaplin and Japanese comedians The Drifters — began their careers miming samurai sword fights on the streets and call themselves 'Gabez'. “We did street performances for a few years, TV auditions, everything… but no one responded,” Masa told Japanese magazine Metropolis. “We felt worthless. So we decided to call ourselves ‘garbage.’ But we changed the spelling to make it cooler.”

20:24 (IST)23 Jul 2021
Naomi Osaka lights Tokyo Games cauldron with Olympic flame
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20:15 (IST)23 Jul 2021
The flame is being lit

The Olympic flame is making its way into the stadium.

20:06 (IST)23 Jul 2021
Tokyo 2020 is officially open now
19:53 (IST)23 Jul 2021
The Games are open

Japan Emperor Naruhito declares the Olympic Games officially open

19:38 (IST)23 Jul 2021
Bach speaks

"The Organising Committee, and the Japanese authorities at all levels have done extraordinary work for which, on behalf of all the Olympic athletes, I want to express our deepest gratitude. We thank all the many unsung heroes, the doctors, nurses and all the Japanese people who contribute to contain the pandemic," says IOC President Thomas Bach. 

Meanwhile, tomorrow is set to be a dig day for India. Here is what is on the table:

19:25 (IST)23 Jul 2021
Final words

The performances come to an end. A rendition of 'Imagine' and a second song featuring performances from around the world is the last of the performances. Tokyo's Olympic managing committee chief takes the dias, IOC chief Thomas Bach by her side.

Approximately 10,400 people attended the opening ceremony 
Team Delegation (Athletes & Team Officials) : Approximately 6,000
Games stakeholders and guests of honor : Approximately 900
Media : Approximately 3,500 (Broadcasters : 1,500 / Press : 2,000)

19:21 (IST)23 Jul 2021
Cambodia's modest contingent

Cambodia's 8-member contingent had a special beacon leading them in the parade. The team's flag bearer was preceded by the country's local name-board bearer, a young Japanese walking with a prosthetic blade walking aid. The modest Cambodian squad received financial aid amounting to INR 50000 in the lead-up.

Meanwhile back home, the emotion surrounding the Olympics remains as poignant as ever, whether you are looking to make history or preparing to watch history being scripted on TV screens. 

19:16 (IST)23 Jul 2021
Lesotho's pride, Portugal's energy

Lesotho, a mountainous kingdom, adjacent to  South Africa, have sent in two athletes - the husband and wife Khoarahlane Seutloali and Neheng Khatala . Both are marathoners. "Seeing him (Seutloali) qualifying for the Olympics motivated me to push harder. Since he had already qualified, he was always helping me train. Now I must focus and remain disciplined ... I am short of words. It's a dream come true," Neheng told The Lesotho Times.

Portugal, meanwhile, with one of the most enthusiastic entries of the night.

19:13 (IST)23 Jul 2021
A few other sensational entries



Czech Republic

19:04 (IST)23 Jul 2021
Japan enters the stadium

The country parade is coming to a close. It's time for Japan to enter the stadium. The loudest roar in the Olympic stadium is reserved for them, the last contingent of the night.

18:50 (IST)23 Jul 2021
Fantastic frames

Some spectacular photographs to have been clicked of today's opening ceremony, as we get well into the second half of the countries to come out. South Africa walking in currently, dressed in forest gear.

18:36 (IST)23 Jul 2021
Tuvalu's time to shine

Etimoni Tiumani isn't the lone athelete from the world's smallest Olympic country - Tuvalu. He was the island nation's solitary athlete in Rio but they have luckily found another one this time. Just two but creditable as their population is only around 12,000 people. Less than the numbers on a weekend in a mall in India.

18:25 (IST)23 Jul 2021
Music to the ears

Once regarded as inferior to film and TV soundtracks, games scores are gaining recognition and awards as a valid form of contemporary classical music. It was ubiquitous in the opening ceremony of the Olympics, as a raft of popular riffs from games bounced about in the glittering yet sombre stadium. The first song that flitted into the vast arena “Roto’s Theme” from the Dragon Quest series, the first console role-playing game that’s popular around the world. Another popular video-game orchestra track was “Victory Fanfare” of the Final Fantasy series. There were 17 similar and popular tracks that captured Japan’s fixation with video-game music. Like haiku in the 1964 games, games scores could hit the mainstream, if they already have not, and underscore that game soundtracks have appeal beyond the people who play games. 

All signs point to an utterly surreal and atomized Games, one that will divide Japan into two worlds during the month of Olympics and Paralympics competition. The International Olympic Committee added 18 new events to the Tokyo Games in a push toward gender equity. There are an equal number of women and men for every sport, excluding baseball and softball because of differing roster sizes.

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First published on: 23-07-2021 at 12:27:20 am