After ignoring the year-long pandemic delay and the lingering threat of coronavirus, the Tokyo Olympics were announced on Friday in an empty stadium, making them the most unusual Olympics ever. Japan’s Emperor Naruhito made the announcement in the context of thousands of vacancies at the 68,000 Tokyo Olympic Stadium after Covid19 forced organizers to ban spectators from some venues. “I announce the opening of the Tokyo Olympics,” said the monarch in a white surgical mask. The simplified opening ceremony to reduce the risk of the coronavirus was held in front of fewer than 1,000 VIPs and thousands of athletes.
In a visual highlight, nearly 2,000 synchronized drones formed a rotating globe over the stadium. This is the cover version of “Imagination” by John Lennon.
The reduction of approximately 5,700 athletes in the parade, well below the usual, entered the stadium, not all maintained social distancing, but all wore masks.
IOC President Thomas Bach admitted that the Olympic Games will be “very different from what we all imagine”.
But “today is a moment of hope,” he said in his speech.
The 16-day Olympics won 339 gold medals in 33 sports. After the pandemic forced organizers to establish it as the first Olympics with few spectators, the atmosphere was surreal. Athletes are tested every day, but they perform on the biggest stage, constantly risking a positive test that could destroy their Olympic dreams.
The beginning of a new era, Fears that the gathering of 11,000 athletes around the world will become a widespread event, making the Olympics very unpopular in Japan In recent months, opinion polls showed opposition.
But when fireworks exploded overhead, hundreds of people gathered outside the stadium to cheer and applaud.
Mako Fukuhara arrived six hours before the ceremony to take the place.
“Until now it didn’t feel like the Olympics, but now we are in the stadium, it feels like the Olympics,” he told AFP.
Japan spent nearly $ 15 billion on the Olympics, including $ 2.6 billion in additional spending, as they became the first postponed Olympics in modern Olympic history in March 2020.
Tokyo is also fighting back an increase in virus cases, although emergency measures are being taken and a strict lockdown has not been achieved.
Organizers predict that when the full-scale sports program starts on Saturday, public opinion will change, with swimming, gymnastics, road cycling, and tennis being the most popular events.
The focus will be on a new generation of Olympic stars who hope to shine after ten years of rule by Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps.
American swimmer, Caeleb Dressel’s goal is seven gold medals. Norwegian 400-meter hurdles Carsten Warholm and American Sydney McLaughlin both hope to become household names.
In gymnastics, Simone Biles will try to crown her dazzling career by tying Larisa Latynina’s nine Olympic gold medal records.
Surfing, skateboarding, sports climbing and karate will make their debut at the Olympics, and New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard will become the first transgender athlete in the Olympics. The
pandemic was not the only setback. The scandals ranged from corruption in the bidding process to allegations of plagiarism of the Tokyo 2020 logo design.
industry insiders estimated that if the Olympics were canceled, the International Olympic Committee would lose approximately US$1.5 billion in broadcast revenue.
( Images Credits: Wiki )