10 takeaways at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics – NBC Chicago
The opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics was rich in memorable and heartwarming moments. After being delayed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tokyo Olympics began with an impressive spectacle.
The organizers did not shy away from the gravity of this moment and recognized the hardships that the Olympic athletes and the Japanese people have endured over the past year. But of course, the Parade of Nations brought joy and excitement, in keeping with the Olympics of the past.
Here are the top 10 moments from the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics:
Opening sequence celebrates unity through sport
The Tokyo Olympics opened with a touching performance featuring athletes in training, the moment Tokyo’s bid for the Olympics was announced, and the New Year’s celebrations in 2020. The performance took off. was quickly arrested and showed footage of empty streets in Japan during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The athlete-performers finally resumed their training and a performance with a red ribbon ensued signaling that the athletes bring the Olympics to life.
One of the performers was a Japanese boxer and nurse, Arisa Tsubata, who failed to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics after boxing qualifications were canceled.
Moment of reflection for victims of COVID-19
Following the opening show, a moment of reflection took place to honor those who have passed away from COVID-19 in the past year. In a deeply personal moment, the announcers asked for a minute’s silence, as those in the stadium stood and watched.
Boxer Arisa Tsubata may not have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, but she still had her moment at the opening ceremony on Friday: The middleweight boxer is also a nurse who has treated COVID-19 patients during the pandemic, and was presented during the opening ceremony sequence.
Munich massacre observed for the first time in the history of the opening ceremony
After the minute of silence in honor of the victims of COVID-19, the announcers acknowledged those who had died during the Olympics and specifically recognized the 11 members of the Israeli delegation who died in the Munich massacre in 1972.
Almost 50 years after Israeli athletes were taken hostage and killed in the Olympic Village at the hands of the Black September terrorist group, Tokyo organizers made history as it was the first time the massacre was mentioned during an opening ceremony.
Japanese culture in the spotlight at the opening ceremony
As expected, there were incredible nods to Japanese history and culture during the opening ceremony performances. From traditional outfits, tributes to the Bon festival, and a magnificent rendition of the Japanese national anthem by pop star MISIA, audiences around the world got a taste of some of Japan’s most treasured cultural elements.
Ahead of the torch ceremony in Tokyo, a Kabuki actor appeared in an elaborate costume. Ayako Kiyono and Masa Hattori from InsideJapan explain the role that the theatrical form plays in Japanese culture.
Recognizable music in Parade of Nations
The Parade of Nations featured fun and recognizable music for video game fans. Over 5,700 athletes and administrative officials marched to music from classic games like Sonic the Hedgehog, Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest.
Two flag bearers for each country
For the first time, two flag bearers represented each country as they marched into the Olympic Stadium. The IOC has decided that each country should elect a male and female flag bearer to promote gender equality at the Games.
The shirtless Tongan returned as a flag bearer
Taekwondo player Pita Taufatofu carried the Tonga flag alongside taekwondo player Malia Paseka. It was his third Olympic appearance after carrying the flag in Rio and PyeongChang and becoming a viral sensation at both opening ceremonies.
Team USA makes its debut
The United States marched to the penultimate place in the Parade of Nations in honor of its responsibilities as host of the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
Sue Bird and Eddy Alvarez proudly carried the American flag, representing more than 600 Americans participating in this year’s Olympics. The Tokyo Olympics will feature the second-largest United States team in Olympic history.
A team of refugees enter the Olympic stadium
For the second time in Olympic history, the IOC is supporting a refugee team at the Olympic Games. The team is made up of 29 athletes who have been displaced from their country of origin.
Osaka lights torch to open Tokyo Olympics
Naomi Osaka was the last torchbearer and lit the Olympic cauldron to close the opening ceremony. Osaka’s role in this year’s Olympics dates back to the last time Japan hosted in 1998, when figure skater Midori Ito was the sole lighter in the torch. Japan has become the first host nation to choose a woman to light its torch at the back-to-back Olympics it hosts.
Naomi Osaka was the last Olympic torchbearer for the Tokyo Olympics, lighting the Olympic flame during the opening ceremony.