From an incredible piano player to a topless Tongan, here are seven of the most memorable moments from the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony.
The Olympic games have finally started, despite a year-long delay, a number of controversial issues and an ongoing pandemic. We will at last get to see the likes of Dina Asher Smith, Jade Jones and Katarina Johnson-Thompson compete to bring home gold for Team GB and join the best British female athletes of all time.
Tokyo 2020 kicked off with the opening ceremony last night (23 July), but, unsurprisingly, it was a very different affair to previous ceremonies. Held in Japan National Stadium, which has capacity for 68,000 spectators, this was the first time that the ceremony didn’t have any spectators in attendance.
While the mood was indeed somber (Tokyo has just reported its highest number of Covid cases in six months), people watching the event on their TVs still enjoyed a sense of hope, marvel and celebration. Let’s look at the best moments from the opening ceremony that, for a while, fans weren’t even sure would ever take place….
A nurse opens the ceremony
Japanese boxer and nurse Arisa Tsubata, who worked as a healthcare worker during the pandemic, opened the ceremony by running on a treadmill throughout the first section. She was one of many health workers who joined the opening ceremony. She quickly gained a lot of new fans on Twitter.
“OK I am obsessed with Arisa Tsubata, the Japanese boxer starring in the Olympics opening ceremonies who is also a NURSE,” one person tweeted.
The incredible history behind the rings
The wooden Olympic rings were carved from trees planted by athletes in 1964, which was when the iconic games were last held in Japan.
Sharing more details behind the story, a journalist tweeted: “So when Japan held the Olympics in 1964, athletes brought seeds to the opening ceremony to plant commemorative trees. And wood from those trees was used to make the 2021 Olympic rings. Stop it.”
Hiromi Uehara gave an Olympic-worthy piano performance
Japanese jazz pianist Hiromi Uehara was on fire with her performance during the ceremony. It’s little surprise that clips quickly went viral.
Team GB arrive
Hannah Mills and Mohamed Sbihi were the two athletes chosen to bear the flag and represent the biggest GB Team in history to enter the games (376 athletes, and a further 22 reserve athletes). It was a proud moment.
The Tonga flag bearer
This is the third time that skiier Pita Taufatofua has marched into an Olympic stadium with the Tongan flag. We can’t think why they keep asking him to do it topless? The internet had thoughts too.
“Yes we will be supporting Tonga at the Olympics this year, no further questions please,” declared one Twitter user.
Naomi Osaka lit the flame
Tennis champion Naomi Osaka had the biggest role of the night: lighting the Olympic flame. “Undoubtedly the greatest athletic achievement and honour I will ever have in my life,” she wrote on Twitter afterwards. “I have no words to describe the feelings I have right now but I do know I am currently filled with gratefulness and thankfulness. Love you guys, thank you.”
And what is an Olympic ceremony without fireworks?
The ceremony ended in true Olympics style: with lots of colourful fireworks lighting up the sky. Let the games begin…