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Jul 23, 2021

32nd Summer Olympic Games open in Tokyo

Arun Ranjit
Fireworks light up the sky over the Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony. Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty Images
Fireworks light up the sky over the Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony. Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty Images

After a year-long delay, the Tokyo Summer Olympics finally happened. The Summer Olympic Games officially began in the National Stadium in Tokyo, Japan today. The opening ceremony for the Tokyo Games kicks off today in Tokyo with an opening ceremony in a largely empty stadium underscoring the threat the coronavirus still poses to the world and to Tokyo itself.

Japanese Emperor Naruhito on Friday declared the Tokyo Olympic Games open during a socially distanced opening ceremony at the National Stadium.

Japan’s Emperor Naruhito, right, and President of the IOC Thomas Bach wave during the Opening Ceremony. Natacha Pisarenk/AP

After Japan’s Emperor Naruhito declared the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games open, the Olympic flag was raised next to Japan’s flag.

The Olympic flag is raised alongside the Japanese flag during the Opening Ceremony. Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Olympics torch was lit after the Games were declared open and the flag was raised. Arriving from Greece, it is designed in the shape of a Sakura, or a cherry blossom.

Opposed by many in the host city, the opening ceremony commenced on Friday at 20: 00 Tokyo time (19:15 hours Nepal Time) with Keigo Oyamada composed music.

Due to the coronavirus epidemic, the Tokyo Olympic Games were inaugurated without spectators. Only Olympic delegates and staff were at the stadium.

The Tokyo Olympics inaugural ceremony was attended by Japanese Emperor Naruhito, French President Emmanuel Macron, Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, US First Lady Jill Biden, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, former UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and other VIPs.

It is to remember that Emperor Naruhito also attended the inaugural ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics held in 1964. At that time, the Emperor was only 4-year-old.

More than 11,000 athletes from 206 nations attend the Tokyo Opening Ceremony as source indicates. The Nepali squad marched past carrying a Nepal flag by swimmers Miss Gaurika Singh and Alexander Shah.

The 2020 Summer Olympics, officially the Games of the XXXII Olympiad and branded as Tokyo 2020, is an ongoing international multi-sport event that is currently being held from 23 July to 8 August 2021 in Tokyo, Japan, with some preliminary events beginning on 21 July.

The inside view of Stadium and outside fireworks light up the sky over the Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony. Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty Images

Ccompetitions are being held in 339 events of 33 games in the Olympics. Where over 11,000 players from around the world are presenting their challenge.

However, unlike in years past, there won’t be any general public spectators. Japan’s Olympic Committee recently announced the Games would not allow spectators in its venues after the country declared a new state of emergency in the city because of COVID-19.

Japan hopes that this year’s Olympic Games will be a transformative experience for the country akin to the 1964 Olympics that marked its ascendancy to becoming an economic superpower just 19 years after it suffered defeat in World War II, writes Japan Correspondent Walter Sim.

Japan’s hopes of using the Games to project an image of modernity and power in Asia are dashed due to the COVID pandemics.

Japan’s Olympics bid was about a demonstration of renewal to the world that “Japan is back! Echoing the 1964 Tokyo Olympics,

This Olympic year already seems a bit off-kilter stateside, because the Summer Games usually coincide with a presidential election-and often have a political overhang.

The 1984 Olympic Games boycott by the Soviet led blocs and 1996 Olympic Games held in Los Angeles and Atlanta of the US gave Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton a chance to bask in reflected patriotic glory before winning re-election.

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter called a boycott of the Moscow Games over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and months later lost his job.

In 2008, President George W. Bush agonized over whether to go to Beijing over human rights concerns.

Director General of World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has welcomed the start of the Olympic and Paralympic Games as a chance to spread “hope to the world”.

Speaking in the Japanese capital Tokyo, he said the world must unite with “determination, dedication and discipline” to triumph over the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID has already taken more than four million lives, and the toll continues to rise as the number of deaths this year has already more than doubled last year’s total, according to the WHO chief. 

As per the Olympic Organizing Committee sources, about 950 people including officials and reporters, were allowed to watch Friday’s opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics in the main stadium.

Hidemasa Nakamura, chief of Tokyo 2020’s main operation centre, told a news conference that apart from the above-mentioned group, the rest allowed into the stadium are performers and athletes. The ban is due to concerns about COVID-19 and its transmission.

But there is little excitement in the Japanese capital, where an estimated 85,000 delegates – including athletes, officials and reporters –were converge for the global sporting event’s opening ceremony on Friday.

With the world still in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic and the Olympic host city, a largely unvaccinated Japanese public is worried the Summer Games could turn into a super-spreader event and overwhelm the country’s already strained healthcare system.

Israeli athletes remembered

Also, forty-nine years after the 1972 massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, Friday’s opening ceremony for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics included, for the first time, an official commemoration of those who died in the terror attack.

Tributes were paid to those lost during the pandemic and throughout Olympic history. The Israeli delegation that was killed at the Munich Games was specifically mentioned. A moment of silence was offered inside the stadium, alongside a dance performance honoring the dead.

Maybe the five ring circus can work its magic again. Hopefully, the Olympic flame will burn away the fear or provide a measure of catharsis after a year of suffering and uncertainty in Japan and around the world.

Let the Games begin!

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