The Tokyo Olympics are arriving at last.
Officials hope an opening ceremony that will be viewed by the world — but by almost no one in the stadium — can overcome unease about games steeped in the baggage of a relentless pandemic.
— AP Sports (@AP_Sports) July 23, 2021
Belated and beleaguered, the virus-delayed Tokyo Summer Olympics finally opened Friday night with cascading fireworks and made-for-TV choreography that unfolded in a near-empty stadium, a colorful but strangely subdued ceremony that set a striking tone to match a unique pandemic Games.
As their opening played out, devoid of the usual crowd energy, the Olympics convened amid simmering anger and disbelief in much of the host country, but with hopes from organizers that the excitement of the sports to follow would offset the widespread opposition…
“This feeling of togetherness — this is the light at the end of the dark tunnel of the pandemic,” [IOC President] Bach declared. Later, Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka received the Olympic flame from a torch relay through the stadium and lit the Olympic cauldron.
Trepidations throughout Japan have threatened for months to drown out the usual packaged glitz of the opening. Inside the stadium after dusk Friday, however, a precisely calibrated ceremony sought to portray that the Games — and their spirit — are going on.
Early in the ceremony, an ethereal blue light bathed the empty seats as loud music muted the shouts of scattered protesters outside calling for the Games to be canceled. A single stage held an octagon shape meant to resemble the country’s fabled Mount Fuji. Later, an orchestral medley of songs from iconic Japanese video games served as the soundtrack for athletes’ entrances.
Mostly masked athletes waved enthusiastically to thousands of empty seats and to a world hungry to watch them compete but surely wondering what to make of it all. Some athletes marched socially distanced, while others clustered in ways utterly contrary to organizers’ hopes. The Czech Republic entered with other countries even though its delegation has had several positive COVID tests since arriving…
Organizers held a moment of silence for those who had died in the pandemic; as it ticked off and the music paused, the sounds of the protests echoed in the distance…
The Olympics aren't dominated only by the superpowers. Plenty of other countries have found ways to own sports or events that fly a little bit under the radar. https://t.co/nfnX9S8xIK
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) July 22, 2021
Even I sorta knew the US team had a solid lead in basketball, and Japan in judo … but not that Korea was even more dominant in archery. Nor how important badminton is to Malaysian Olympians, or that “62 percent of Australia’s Summer Games medals involve water”…
Ahead of the opening ceremony, here is what to look out for at Tokyo 2020 Olympicshttps://t.co/6BPUjkqXDb
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) July 23, 2021
Tokyo 2020: Travelling to an Olympic Games like no other https://t.co/8ZFM2yBqDz
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) July 22, 2021
— Scott Bryan (@scottygb) July 23, 2021
Several hundred people are gathered near Olympic Stadium in Tokyo to protest holding the Games during the pandemic. The stadium is quiet enough that they are audible during the ceremony. https://t.co/5gtlk6YROhhttps://t.co/7TBSguuOFB
— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 23, 2021
Meanwhile, the Russian TV channel broadcasting the opening ceremony, rolled commercials as Ukraine was about to march, to avoid the indignity of showing the Ukrainian national flag.
Russia, of course, has no flag at these games die to its charming practice of doping its athletes.
— Slava Malamud (@SlavaMalamud) July 23, 2021
— Reuters (@Reuters) July 22, 2021
Not Just about all Olympic venues…
From doping to demonstrations to dirty officials, the Olympics have never lacked their share of off-the-field scandals and controversies that keep the Games in the headlines long after the torch goes out. Here's some of the most notable recent news. https://t.co/RC0CZz6YEJ
— The Associated Press (@AP) July 22, 2021
I can't believe this website is free. pic.twitter.com/NsmdzbVhNY
— Patrick Chovanec (@prchovanec) July 22, 2021