THE opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics began Friday night in a nearly empty National Stadium, with many questioning the value of holding the games at a time of unprecedented challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic while still craving inspirational moments from the world’s greatest athletes. The ceremony raised the curtain on the biggest sporting spectacle held since the virus took hold early last year and following a oneyear postponement. Involving about 11,000 athletes from over 200 countries and regions, venues will be without spectators for the first Olympics in history. Although organizers hope the Olympics will symbolize global solidarity and victory over the virus, the games will be staged with the host city seemingly losing the fight. Tokyo has been wrestling with COVID-19 infection numbers at their highest in six months with the city under its fourth state of emergency. Emperor Naruhito is set to declare the games of the 32nd Olympiad open in the ceremony at the newly built stadium which only a limited number of VIPs such as International Olympic Committee officials and foreign dignitaries were allowed to enter.
To the sound of popular Japanese video game tunes, including from the title “Dragon Quest”, played by an orchestra, athletes entered a stadium full of empty seats. They waved to cameras rather than a crowd while led by manga-themed country name placards carried by people from across Japan. The ceremony mixed Japanese tradition, highlighting fine craftsmanship with modern culture, while also celebrating athletes who have trained for the Olympics through the global health crisis, giving special mention to a female boxer who also worked as a nurse.