- BBC News World
Like a beacon of hope in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games were inaugurated this Friday.
The honor of lighting the Olympic cauldron was held by Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka at the climax of a ceremony that, as expected, was limited by preventive measures to avoid contagion.
There was no audience. Only athletes, authorities and journalists – wearing masks at all times – were present in an Olympic stadium with a capacity for 68,000 spectators.
“Today is a moment of hope,” declared the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach.
“Yes, it is very different from what we had all imagined. But let’s cherish this moment because we are finally all here together,” he said.
These are 5 highlights from the ceremony of a game that will be very different.
1. The lighting of the cauldron
The culminating moment of the ceremony was the lighting of the Olympic cauldron.
Naomi Osaka, one of the stars of the moment in Japanese sports, was in charge of carrying the torch on its last stretch.
The 23-year-old tennis player climbed a staircase that represented Mount Fuji and was crowned by a sun that was opening like a flower, which signified “vitality and hope.”
Soberly, Osaka presented the flame to the public, turned around and brought the flame towards the cauldron, which in a few seconds reached its maximum intensity.
Although there was no applause for the lack of public, the fireworks over the Olympic stadium created a spectacle at the level of any past edition of the Olympic Games.
2. Latin American joy
The ceremony itself was modest, a reminder of everything the world has gone through in the past year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
However, athletes from Latin American countries were noted in the parade. With dances, traditional clothes and colorful uniforms, they brought joy to the stadium.
The Argentine delegation made their entrance jumping and raising their hands, chanting “Oé, oé, oé”.
The Colombian costume was very striking, with the traditional Caribbean hats, but with blue kimonos with golden highlights in honor of the host country.
There were also flashy moments from other countries, such as a pirouette that the flag bearer of France did as he entered, as well as the muscular Pita Taufatofua, the flag bearer of Tonga.
3. The planet of drones
After the parade of the more than 200 delegations, came the traditional oath of athletes who promised to respect the rules and the Olympic spirit of competition.
Then came another of the most striking moments: a show of 1,800 drones.
In the sky they made a representation of the Tokyo 2020 logo, which means “unity in diversity”.
They then rose to recreate the planet with its continents beyond the stadium roof, dramatically lighting up the night in Tokyo.
4. The tribute for those who are no longer there
Another emotional moment was the tribute to the victims of the coronavirus pandemic.
There was a minute of silence for the more than four million people who died in the world from covid-19.
But tribute was also paid to the Israeli athletes who died in the 1972 Munich Olympics bombing.
5. Empty bleachers inside, protests outside
Holding the Olympic Games in Tokyo has been difficult for the organizers, who had to postpone them for a year and face the rejection of many Japanese to hold them.
Tokyo is under a state of emergency, so the public is not allowed in the stands of the sports venues, including ceremonies like those of this Friday.
In the Olympic stadium, the thousands of empty seats were covered in colors.
But there were people outside.
Before the ceremony, some protesters made their voices heard against holding the Games.
Dozens of police tried to maintain the protest around the stadium.
Months before the start of the Games, 80% of Japanese expressed their rejection of the event for fear that it would contribute to the expansion of the coronavirus, although that rejection dropped to 30% in recent days.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.