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Tokyo Olympics Open Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

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The Tokyo Olympics opened with an eye to and an apparent reference to the coronavirus, which still grips the world. In Tokyo’s almost empty Olympic Stadium, the Olympic flame was lit by tennis star Naomi Osaka.


The opening was in stark contrast to the Rio de Janeiro Games opening, which opened even more festively in 2016. “It will be sober but with beautiful Japanese aesthetics. It will be very Japanese, but also in line with today’s sentiment, the reality,” Marco Balich, the adviser for the ceremonies at the Games in the Japanese capital, already announced.

The ceremony kicked off with three “lone athletes” cycling, running and rowing secluded from each other and “resolutely training for the Olympics despite the pandemic.” “We understand that people are looking at the ceremony from different points of view so that it will be a quiet start to the ceremony,” the organization said.

Later, under the watchful eye of the Japanese Emperor Naruhito, there was also plenty of room for fireworks, dance, light shows and other spectacles. The stadium’s podium featured Mount Fuji and the sun, the two prominent symbols of host country Japan.

After 45 minutes, the first flag bearers entered the stadium; pistol shooter Anna Korakaki and gymnast Eleftherios Petrounias from Greece. Korakaki was the first bearer of the Olympic torch last year.

Thousands of Japanese had gathered around the stadium. Despite the corona measures, interested parties were close to each other along the road around the stadium. Presumably, they wanted to catch a glimpse of the Olympic flame. Slogans were also shouted against the International Olympic Committee and the Games. The protests were audible in the stadium.

According to the organization, the Games serve as a means to unite. “Sports are universal. We believe that sport has the power to unite the world through emotion. The Games are an opportunity to express our admiration for the efforts we have made together over the past year.” There was also a moment of silence during the opening ceremony in memory of the victims of the coronavirus.

The opening ceremony director, Kentaro Kobayashi, was fired a day before the event over comments he had made about the Holocaust in the past.

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