Tokyo Olympics: Opening ceremony was ‘respectful, hopeful but sombre night’
Olympic opening ceremonies are something of a unique art form. Playing to a global audience but with the host nation wanting to make the night their own.
Japan chose sombre. It was a respectful, hopeful but above all sombre night. They didn’t want to show off when everyone has lived through such hardship – and while so many people continue to do so.
Their display using 1,824 flying drones combining like a swarm of giant worker bees to create a giant globe stood out.
So too Japanese tennis superstar Naomi Osaka who was given the honour of firing up the hydrogen-fuelled Olympic cauldron.
But it was their courteous bow towards the pain of the pandemic that defined the evening.
Video montages of empty cities during lockdowns, and athletes cobbling together training regimes in their back gardens – it all made for an understated opening ceremony.
Outside, the protests in the streets continued among those still vehemently against the Games taking place while Tokyo remains in a state of COVID emergency.
There were also people outside who just felt drawn to the Olympic stadium – to come and wave to the very select numbers of VIPs and media going inside. It was as close as they could get to the Games that they had waited almost a decade for.
While these Olympics will feel unusual there were reminders too of the magic they can create.
There was a towering Tongan taekwondo player who strode into the stadium with his bare oiled chest puffed out as he carried his island nation’s flag like a warrior on a mission.
The Olympics can still produce special moments like that and there will be plenty more over the coming weeks.
There will be more COVID-19 disruption too but the Games of 2020 are finally open, just one year late.
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