Tennis star Naomi Osaka lit the Olympic flame as the Tokyo Games opened with a simple party held behind closed doors.
The coronation came when great Japanese athletes, key workers and children from the areas affected by the devastating earthquake and tsunami 10 years ago joined hands before handing the torch to Grand Slam champion Osaka.
The 23-year-old walked across the stage at the Olympic Stadium and climbed an avatar of Mount Fuji to light the cauldron.
IOC President Thomas Bach earlier addressed the media for the athletes and dignitaries who make up the scattered crowd, saying: «Today is a moment of hope.
“Yes, it is very different from what we all imagined. But let us cherish this moment because at last we are all here together. This is the unifying force of sport. This is the message of solidarity and peace and the message of resilience.”
The Irish delegation, led by flag-bearers and boxers Kelly Harrington and Brendan Irvine, took fourth place in the Parade of Nations, due to the country’s pronunciation in Japanese (ai-ru-ran-do).
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The party has seen a lot of trouble regardless of the broader backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this week, the program’s director, Kentaro Kobayashi, was fired over alleged anti-Semitic jokes he made during a 1998 comedy routine.
It came on the heels of composer Keigo Oyamada’s resignation after footage emerged from interviews in which he admitted to bullying disabled children during school days, while executive creative director Hiroshi Sasaki resigned in March after criticism of his proposal to wear plus-size model Naomi Watanabe. pig.
The stadium was surrounded by a ring of steel, and Japanese fans hoping to be inside had to just snap pictures of the Olympic rings and watch ticket-holding journalists walk through security checkpoints.
Meanwhile, anti-Games protesters marched outside the plaza and could be heard clearly during the quiet moments of the ceremony.
There were plenty of these over the course of nearly four hours, of course, with a few journalists, dignitaries and volunteers sitting in the stands of the stadium, which was built for the games on the site of the 1964 field.
One of the most striking moments of the ceremony came with the construction of the Olympic rings, which were carved from wood from trees planted from seeds carried by participants in the Games in the same city 47 years ago.
This was a major party for its time, with early sequences citing the effects of Covid-19 as athletes were seen training separately but connected, while there was a moment of silence to remember those who were lost.
Performances designed to dance were scaled back and understated, and the athletes’ procession saw significantly smaller delegations than usual, although some countries, particularly the United States and Japan, were very well represented.
Some action started early this morning, with the Irish rowing world champion Sanita Bospor wins the round in the individual rowing event.
Catch all the action from Tokyo 2020 with our 24-hour coverage on RTÉ.ie / sport and the RTÉ News app, watch live on RTÉ2 or RTÉ Player and hear live updates and commentary on RTÉ Radio.
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