The Japanese tennis star, Naomi Osaka, lit up four hours after the opening ceremony of the 32nd Olympic Games “Tokyo 2020”, which was finally launched after a year-long delay, due to the Corona pandemic, which is still hanging over the Olympics.
The opening ceremony lasted for approximately four and a half hours, with the attendance of only about a thousand people in the stadium, led by Emperor Naruhito of Japan and President of the German International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach, to a number of heads of state such as French Emmanuel Macron, whose country will host the next edition in 2024, and American First Lady Jill Biden , government officials, and others. Strict social distancing measures were imposed and banners were raised asking fans to “be calm around the stadium”. The Olympic torch, which witnessed a difficult path, will light the Olympic stadium until the end of the global event on Sunday evening, August 8, after two weeks of competitions in which 11,090 athletes will participate, who make up 206 delegations from all over the world (205 countries and the refugee team), who will compete for 339 medals. in 33 sports.
The ceremony was simple, and the athletes’ march entered the Tokyo National Stadium with smiles behind their masks, and a man and a woman were allowed to carry flags together for the first time. Small numbers, roughly 20 from each country, marched the teams and left quickly to avoid infection.
The delegates tried their best to enjoy the atmosphere, like the Ugandan team in its glamorous traditional costumes with some dances as the Argentine delegation jumped excitedly as they entered.
Difficult challenges faced by the organizers due to the repercussions of the Corona virus pandemic, marking the launch of one of the most controversial games in history. And the Japanese Emperor Naruhito announced the opening of the games, and Naruhito said, wearing a white mask, “I announce the opening of the Tokyo Games,” according to the ancient formula, in a stadium empty of fans due to the pandemic, except for about a thousand invitees. The Olympics’ journey involved a long list of complications, at times threatening it with becoming the first modern post-war Games to be cancelled.
Organizing Committee Chairperson Seiko Hashimoto said, with emotion evident in her eyes, “I welcome you all with all my heart… The whole world has faced enormous challenges with Covid-19. I want to salute and appreciate all the workers including those in the medical sector around the world as well. “.
Although Japanese officials were keen to repeat the guarantee of holding “safe” games, considering that they would be “evidence of mankind’s victory over the virus,” which contributed to a slight decline in the intensity of popular opposition in recent weeks, those opponents refused to let their voices be heard on the awaited day.
In contrast to the hundreds of Japanese who thronged outside the stadium to watch the fireworks and hear the sounds from inside, they were confronted by dozens of opponents who demanded the “cancellation of the Olympics” and the use of money to help the health sector, resonating inside the stadium walls.
“Today is a moment of hope,” Bach said in his speech. “Yes, it is very different from the one we imagined. But let’s cherish this moment because we are here together: the athletes from the 205 National Olympic Committees and the Refugee Olympic Team, live under one roof in the Olympic Village.”
“You’ve had to face major challenges during your Olympic path (…) You experienced a lot of uncertainty during the pandemic. You didn’t know if you would be able to see your coach the next day,” said the former Olympic champion, who has repeatedly opposed the cancellation of the Games to the athletes.
Because the organizers had to cut the budget as a result of the losses they incurred, the ceremony was not as grand as in the last editions, and this was reflected on the athletes, who attended about 5700 of them.
Official figures showed the games cost 1.64 trillion dollars, or 14.8 billion US dollars at today’s exchange rate, including an additional 294 billion yen ($2.6 billion) due to a year-long delay. The ceremony witnessed artistic paintings with visual and sound effects, and embodied Japan’s love for traditional crafts in Japan and the video games it exported to the world, as athletes entered the queues of missions to the rhythm of music from famous games.
Six people carried the Japanese flag into the stadium, four athletes, a strong-willed person and health workers, in appreciation of the efforts made in facing the outbreak of the virus.
1824 “Drone” decorated the sky of the stadium in the shape of the globe to the effect of the song “Imagine” by the late famous English singer John Lennon, which talks about a world free of racism, sectarian and ethnic discrimination, and famine, in one of the most beautiful paintings of the ceremony.
After a difficult path for the torch, during which most of its stages were canceled in different parts of the country to avoid the gathering of delegations on the roads, it reached the Olympic stadium before the cauldron designed in the form of the sun and symbolizing the one on the Japanese flag was lit, to open in the form of a flower that embodies life and hope. It was placed on top of a design similar to the famous Mount Fuji, the highest in the country.
With the dismantling of the “mine” after the other, it is time to celebrate, even if the games will be deficient in their most prominent components, i.e. the masses absent from the stands that the Japanese spent the precious and precious to build or renovate.
While this Olympics is expected to be a lackluster version of the previous festivities, organizers are trying to compensate viewers by relying on advanced broadcast technologies and innovations to be able to live the event.
OBS (Olympic Broadcasting Services) has created audio recordings of crowd noise at previous games to adapt to each sport, and will be broadcast at competition venues. Athletes will also be able to receive encouragement through screens of video (selfies) sent from all over the world, and communicate by video with their loved ones once their competitions are over.
Despite the harsh measures taken before the arrival of the participants in the Olympics, such as undergoing several PCR tests and downloading health tracking and monitoring applications, most notably “OCHA”, some injuries appeared among athletes and mission administrators in the days leading up to the opening ceremony.
To avoid a spike in infections, organizers have banned hugs or handshakes during victory celebrations. They are required to wear masks at all times except when eating, sleeping or competing, and they are only allowed to travel between the Olympic Village and the rest of the sports facilities.
American swimmer Michael Phelps (23 gold) and Jamaican short-distance sprinter Usain Bolt (8 gold) monopolized the stardom in the last three editions, in Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016. But with the two giants retired, the arena seems empty for aspiring to the Olympic throne.
In Tokyo, American Caleb Dressel hopes to become the fourth swimmer in history to win seven golds in one edition. Dressel, 24, had won two gold medals in Rio 2016, but he has made tremendous progress in recent years, winning 13 world championships since 2017.
His compatriot Katie Ledecky, who holds five golds, is preparing for a pond diving with a mission to achieve a historic quad in the 200, 400, 800 and 1500 metres.
American gymnast Simone Biles hopes to equal the record of the Soviet Larisa Latynina by winning nine Olympic golds.
After breaking this month a record that has been steadfast since 1992 in the 400m hurdles, the spotlight is focused on the Norwegian Carsten Warholm, and the young American Sidney McLaughlin did the same at the same distance when she outperformed her compatriot Dalilah Muhammad.
After establishing himself as the king of the pole vault and breaking the world record, Swede Armand “Mundo” Duplantis prepares to taste gold at the age of 21. The women’s 10,000m race is awaiting a fierce competition between Ethiopia’s Letisenbet Gedi and Dutchman Sefan Hassan, after breaking the world record in two days. Among the athletes waiting in Tokyo, the Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic, American basketball player Kevin Durant and British swimmer Adam Peaty.
Among the Arabs, Qatari Moataz Barshim dreams of a first Olympic gold in the high jump, after the 2012 bronze and the 2016 silver, adding it to his titles in the 2017 and 2019 World Cups. Moroccan Sofiane El Bakkali is one of the most prominent candidates in the 3000m steeplechase race, while the Egyptians rely a lot on Taekwondo player Hedaya Malak, and Tunisian Anas Jaber hopes to award a historic gold to Tunisia in tennis after reaching the quarter-finals of Wimbledon.