It’s been a long time coming, but the Tokyo Olympics have finally officially begun.
Hundreds of athletes marched through Olympic Stadium last night, with some of the larger teams not able to have their full cohort due to density limits.
It was certainly a different ceremony to what we’ve come to know — masks, no crowds, a general vibe that this wasn’t really what anyone had planned but an understanding that it’s the best we’ve got.
If you missed it, or couldn’t quite make it through all four hours, here are the key moments.
Australia’s grand Olympic entrance
It was the moment we were all waiting for — after five long years, Australia’s hardest-working sportspeople finally got to don the green and gold and march into Olympic Stadium.
It was made all the more special by the two outstanding athletes leading the Aussies out — four-time Olympian Cate Campbell, and Australia’s first Indigenous flagbearer Patty Mills.
As well as the two leaders carrying the Australian flag, pistol athlete Elena Galiabovitch was recognised as one of six frontline medical workers to carry the official Olympic flag into the stadium at the end of the ceremony.
Live pictograms you couldn’t turn away from
Every Olympic sport has its own identifying pictogram — you might not have ever really paid that much attention to them, but they’re crucial in providing some visual context to the competition categories.
With the range of Olympic sports growing, there are now 50 individual pictograms to identify each sport, and instead of just flicking through some cartoons, some clever organiser had the idea to get a group of (very energetic) dancers to physically act them out.
And it. Was. Brilliant.
Dressed in a generic blue head with the help of some “background” support and a few pieces of cardboard, each sport’s pictogram was physically demonstrated live and to music with perfect shape and timing.
If you didn’t catch it live, we’d highly recommend watching it back.
Speculation had been bubbling for a while, but overnight it was revealed — Naomi Osaka was the final Olympic flame torchbearer, and lit the Olympic cauldron signifying the official start of the Games.
It comes after she withdrew from both Roland Garros and Wimbledon to prioritise her mental health.
But the 23-year-old is back and shining her torch (literally) on the world’s biggest stage — she said she had “no words” to describe how it felt to take those final steps and light that cauldron on home soil.
“Undoubtedly the greatest athletic achievement and honour I will ever have in my life,” she said.
An impressive drone display
There might have been no crowds inside Olympic Stadium, but with this display, there would have been many in Tokyo who were able to look to the sky and feel included in the opening ceremony.
About 1,800 drones were flown above the stadium during the ceremony, flying in patterns to form a globe and the Olympic emblem in the sky.
Tokyo remains under a state of emergency, meaning there was little opportunity for locals to get out onto the streets and gather to celebrate the official start of the games, but the mega drone display would have been a sight to behold from the balcony.
A heartfelt message to the Refugee Olympic Team
International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach was one of the few speakers during this year’s opening ceremony.
He spoke about the motto of this year’s Games — faster, higher, stronger, together — but also directed a few words straight to the Refugee Olympic Team:
Dear refugee athletes, with your talent and human spirit, you are demonstrating what an enrichment refugees are for society.
You had to flee from home because of violence, hunger or just because you were different. Today, we welcome you with open arms and offer you a peaceful home. Welcome to our Olympic community.
In this Olympic community, we are all equal. We all respect the same rules. This Olympic experience makes all of us very humble because we feel that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. We are part of an event that unites the world. United in all our diversity, we become bigger than the sum of our parts. We are always stronger together.
And a Keith Urban cameo
The Suginami Junior Chorus kicked off a rendition of John Lennon’s Imagine towards the end of the ceremony.
That then linked up with some pre-recorded verses courtesy of singers from regions around the world.
Lo and behold, our very own Keith Urban made an appearance representing Oceania alongside Angelique Kidjo, Alejandro Sanz and John Legend.
We weren’t going to mention the Tongan flagbearer, but…
Tonga’s flagbearer became a bit of a fan favourite after the 2016 Games.
There was a bit of a 2020 twist on the traditional dress with the addition of masks, but cries of “he’s back!” still rang out in front of televisions around the world.
Pita Taufatofua and Malia Paseka, both taekwondo competitors, carried the flag and led out their country during the ceremony — Tonga had one of the smaller groups in the parade.
The taekwondo kicks off today and runs until Tuesday.
Can I rewatch the opening ceremony?
You can catch up on all the big bits on 7Plus, as well as stream dozens of Olympic sports live and free.
Seven’s free-to-air channels are showing the Games throughout the next couple of weeks as well.
Source: ABC News