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UNDERWAY: Opening Ceremony signals the start of Tokyo 2020


Athletes from around the world watched on as performers took part in the opening ceremony for Tokyo 2020.

The ceremony began with a series of video montages culminating in a countdown and a brief fireworks display, which was greeted by a smattering of polite applause from the journalists and volunteers in the stadium.

The early sequences referenced the effects of Covid-19, with athletes seen training apart but connected, before the Japanese flag was carried into the arena.

Hannah Mills and Mohamed Sbihi led the small British delegation into the stadium early in the parade of nations.

It is the first time each country has had joint male and female flag bearers, and rower Sbihi, the first Muslim athlete to carry the British flag at an opening ceremony, said: “It’s amazing to be able to share it with the select few we have here, to share it with Hannah. It is just a huge step towards equality and inclusion.”

IOC president Thomas Bach addressed the assembled athletes, media and dignitaries, saying: “Today is a moment of hope.

“Yes it is very different from what all of us had imagined. But let us cherish this moment because finally we are all here together. This is the unifying power of sport. This is the message of solidarity, of peace and the message of resilience.”

Bach lavished praise on hosts Japan, saying: “Thank you to all Japanese people for making the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 possible.”

At the conclusion of Bach’s speech, Emperor Naruhito of Japan declared the Games officially open.

The ceremony culminated with the end of the torch relay as great Japanese athletes, key workers and children from regions affected by the devastating earthquake and tsunami 10 years ago linked up before handing the flame to tennis star Naomi Osaka.

The 23-year-old walked across the stage before climbing steps to light the cauldron.


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