By Kiyasha Kohombanwickramage
The Tokyo Olympics 2020 have officially begun! The opening ceremony took place on Friday, 23rd July, in the “nearly empty,” but glamourous National Stadium, after a year-long pandemic brought the games to a halt.
The ceremony began with a ring of fireworks around the roof of the stadium, followed by a troop of dancers who took centre stage, to bring out the motto of the 2020 Olympics; ‘United by Emotion.’ With the conclusion of the Japanese national anthem, a moment of silence was observed to pay tribute to the lives lost due to the Covid-19 pandemic and respect was also paid to the Olympians who were “no more.” Further, “fast forward” a few segments, and once the Olympic rings were assembled, the Olympians were welcomed, as the much-awaited Parade of Nations began. The Parade of Nations has been an Olympic ritual since its first parade at the London Olympics in 1908. This year’s Parade of Nations followed the “traditional procession order,” with Greece, the founding nation of the Olympic games leading the pack and other countries following suit in alphabetical order. Team Sri Lanka was seen gracefully clad in their uniforms, with flag bearers; judoka Chamara Dharmawardana and gymnast Milka De Silva heading the squad for the Lankans.
Tennis superstar and four-time grand slam winner, Naomi Osaka had the honour of lighting the Olympic cauldron and she went on to describe the experience via her Twitter handle as, “Undoubtedly, the greatest athletic achievement and honour, I will ever have in my life.”
The opening ceremony gives the host country an opportunity to showcase its culture to a global audience and it also gives the athletes a glorious opportunity, to be a part of the Parade of Nations. This year, the ceremony paid homage to both, Japan’s traditional crafts and its globally beloved video games, and athletes from the participating countries, “marched their way” into the stadium, behind their respective country’s flag, to themed music from popular titles. The hosts sent the traditional message of peace, as 1824 drones formed the shape of the Olympic emblem in the sky, right above the stadium which then transformed into the shape of the globe, a truly spectacular sight.
The Tokyo 2020 emblem which was used across the ceremony and will continue to be displayed throughout the games, is drawn out of a harmonized checkered emblem based on a popular Japanese design ‘Ichimatzu Moyo’ from the Edo period (1603-1867) expressing a sense of eternity and boundless creativity colourized in traditional Japanese indigo blue that expresses refined elegance and sophistication that exemplifies Japan. The checkered design is composed of three varieties of rectangular shapes where the design represents different countries, cultures and ways of thinking. A message to the world; unity in diversity and in adversity.
Shortly before the Olympics were declared open, the International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach highlighted in his address, the spirit of the Olympics and signified that the 2020 Olympics is, “The light at the end of the dark tunnel.” His address was followed by an invite extended to Japan’s Emperor, to declare the games “open,” upon which, his Majesty Emperor Naruhito, “finally” and “officially” declared the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, “open!”
In recent years, Olympic opening ceremonies have been known for their grand gestures and extravagant cultural displays, and this time around, despite Covid-19 restrictions, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony was nothing short of a magnificent display, celebrating not only the Olympians but also the Japanese culture.
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