After one year wait, Tokyo Olympic Games begin under pandemic shadow

By FrontierManipur | Published On 23rd Jul, 2021, 10:32 GMT+0530

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Olympics Opening Photo Source: @Olympics/Twitter

Japanese Emperor Naruhito declared the Games open at the stadium which only about 950 people including officials and reporters were allowed to enter for the opening ceremony due to the coronavirus

TFM Desk

After an extra year of waiting, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games finally opened Friday night at Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium behind closed doors. The biggest sporting event on the planet kicked off exactly one year later than originally planned due to the postponement caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Few hours before the opening ceremony, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi extended his best wishes to his Japanese counterpart Yoshihide Suga for Tokyo Olympics2020.

In a tweet, the Prime Minister said, “Wishing PM @sugawitter the very best for #Tokyo2020 @Olympics and @Paralympics. We look forward to a season of incredible performances by the world’s best sportspersons! @Tokyo2020”

He also extended his best wishes to the Indian contingent for Tokyo Olympics2020. In a tweet, the Prime Minister said, “Come, let us all #Cheer4India! Caught a few glimpses of the @Tokyo2020 Opening Ceremony.”

https://twitter.com/narendramodi/status/1418554625829965824/photo/1

Japanese Emperor Naruhito declared the Games open at the stadium which only about 950 people including officials and reporters were allowed to enter for the opening ceremony due to the coronavirus, Xinhua reported.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach delivered an emotional speech at the opening ceremony.

“Today is a moment of hope,” Bach said.

“Let us cherish this moment, because finally we are here, all together. Athletes from 205 National Olympic Committees and the IOC Refugee Olympic Team, living under one roof together in the Olympic Village. This is the unifying power of sport.

“We can only be all together here because of you, our gracious hosts – the Japanese people, to whom we would like to express all our appreciation and support.”

Before the athletes parade began, Bangladeshi social entrepreneur and banker Muhammad Yunus was honored the Olympic Laurel for his extensive work helping athletes “become socially responsible entrepreneurs” and building a new sustainable Olympic model.

Unable to attend the opening ceremony, the 81-year-old Yunus received the award by video link from his home in Dhaka.

The opening ceremony highlighted Japanese tradition with modern culture, while the cauldron was lit by Naomi Osaka after the Olympic flame had traveled to all of Japan’s 47 prefectures since late March.

The Olympic flame, probably not “the light at the end of the dark tunnel” yet as envisioned by the IOC and Japanese organizers, at least illuminated the way towards the eventual victory against the virus and challenges brought by it that is sure to come.

It has been almost eight years since Japanese people celebrated the return of the Olympic Games after the 1964 Games, but the journey to this point has been full of challenges.

On March 24, 2020, Japan’s then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach agreed to delay the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics by one year due to COVID-19, four days after the Olympic flame, which was lit up in Olympia, Greece without spectators, arrived in Japan.

The unprecedented postponement brought about tons of work both for the IOC and local organizers, and undoubtedly extra cost – about 294 billion yen (some 2.83 billion US dollars) – which made it among the most expensive Olympic Games in history to stage.

However, money is perhaps not the biggest problem, compared with the pandemic and controversies over the games.

It wasn’t until late Thursday night that the organizers confirmed the opening ceremony will stick to its original programs following the firing of ceremony director Kentaro Kobayashi after a joke about the Holocaust joke he made in 1998 resurfaced, said Xinhua report.

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