Tokyo Olympics opens amid rising cases among athletes

    A number of athletes and coaches, including more than a hundred personnel linked to the Olympics were already reported infected with COVID-19. In total, 11,000 athletes from 204 countries are expected to arrive for the Games. But as part of the rules recently added by the Games committee, athletes are to leave right after their event.

    It was not the same as any other Olympics ceremony. Athletes paraded into the Olympic stadium representing each of their nations except that their faces are covered with masks in a variety of colors, as did their banners depending on the country or the flag.

    Athletes marched to the soundtrack of Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy, the country’s best-selling video games.

    TOKYO GAMES — Friday, 23 July, the cauldron is lit. The opening ceremony is toned down without the glitz that usually accompanies events as elaborate as the quadrennial Olympics.

    Fireworks were among the highlights featured in the opening. The mood was drab sans fans and spectators.

    Emperor Naruhito and International Olympic Committee (IOC) chairman Thomas Bach entered the stadium with their masks on and sat distanced from each other. The emperor formally opened the Games, as his grandfather did Hirohito in 1964.

    Fifteen global leaders were at the opening ceremonies with the emperor. United States first lady Jill Biden led the U.S. delegation during the opening.

    Strict social distancing prevails with less than a thousand people in attendance. Jeers and cheers are not allowed as part of the measure imposed by the Games committee.

    A pictogram show of the Olympics events took the stage. However, there are signages in the venue that restrict the few spectators from creating any noise around the venue.

    Until the day before its opening, the Tokyo Games had been in a string of scandals, which went as far as the dismissal of senior officials over derogatory comments on women, bullying, and jokes about the Holocaust. City residents still hold protest outside the stadium.

    Meanwhile, a team of refugee athletes will also compete under the Olympic flag.

    The Games will run until 08 August. (RA/The MiNT)


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