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Live Updates: The Tokyo Olympics: NPR

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Live Updates: The Tokyo Olympics: NPR

Performers performed pictograms of basketball and other Olympic sports during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics.

Cameron Spencer / Getty Images


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Cameron Spencer / Getty Images

Performers performed pictograms of basketball and other Olympic sports during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics.

Cameron Spencer / Getty Images

Glyph people become unlikely MVPs

One of the most striking sequences of the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics revolved around the pictograms. Organizers in Tokyo have been promoting their “kinetic pictograms”, which show figures bursting into motion in dozens of disciplines. For Friday’s ceremony, they gave life to the 50 pictograms.

Dressed in the intense shades of white and dark blue, their heads encased in large spheres, the pictogram artists leapt on blocks and posed with accessories to represent the iconography while upbeat techno-pop echoed in the background.

The artists are a collection of mimes and actors who typically work alone or in a duo, Tokyo organizers said.

“Are they the real MVPs from the opening ceremony?” the Tokyo Olympics Twitter feed I ask.

The last time Tokyo hosted the Summer Olympics was in 1964. That was also the year the organizers debuted with the Olympic pictograms.

Tonga flaggers Pita Taufatofua (left) and Malia Paseka lead their delegation as they parade during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics.

Odd Andersen / AFP via Getty Images


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Tonga flaggers Pita Taufatofua (left) and Malia Paseka lead their delegation as they parade during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics.

Odd Andersen / AFP via Getty Images

Pita from Tonga continues its Olympic tradition

A much-anticipated highlight came midway through the opening ceremony, when Tonga’s Pita Taufatofua competed once again to steal the show by entering the stadium bare-chested (and well oiled).

It’s Taufatofua’s third consecutive Olympic appearance – he competed in taekwondo at the Rio Summer Games and took on cross-country skiing for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

Along with Taufatofua, renowned athletes who led their delegations include Japanese NBA star Rui Hachimura and Jamaican sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

‘Imagine’ plays in an almost empty stadium

It is a tradition that the Olympic opening ceremonies culminate with a new version of “Imagine”, the call to unity written by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. The Tokyo version nurtured those international roots, with artists from different continents: Angélique Kidjo, John Legend and Alejandro Sanz exchanging verses.

The song began quietly, with the Suginami Children’s Choir singing its opening lines. From there, it was integrated into a global collaboration as the stars came together to sing remotely. The choir, whose members range from age 3 to college students, was formed in 1964, the same year that Tokyo last hosted the Olympics.

Tennis star Naomi Osaka carries the Olympic torch to light the cauldron at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics.

Bai Yu / VCG via Getty Images


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Bai Yu / VCG via Getty Images

Tennis star Naomi Osaka carries the Olympic torch to light the cauldron at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics.

Bai Yu / VCG via Getty Images

Naomi Osaka lights the cauldron

When the 2020 Olympic flame finally lit up a huge cauldron in Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium, it was lit by Naomi Osaka, the 23-year-old tennis superstar from Japan.

It was speculated that Osaka would play a role in the ceremony after organizers brought their first tennis match forward from Saturday to Sunday, without giving an immediate reason. With the opening ceremony taking place on Friday night in Tokyo, Osaka would have little rest before the game on Saturday morning.

The Olympics will be Osaka’s first competition since leaving the French Open in May, after being sanctioned for refusing to attend post-match press conferences. He said he has suffered long bouts of depression and experiences intense anxiety when speaking to the press.

The Olympic cauldron that Osaka lit up runs on hydrogen. Sitting atop a structure reminiscent of Japan’s famous Mount Fuji, the cauldron was revealed after a huge white orb slowly opened, like a flower.

An athlete, alone, runs on a treadmill

The ceremony began with an art display reflecting the isolation experienced globally over the past year. The performers were seen on treadmills and rowing machines, highlighting how the athletes had limited themselves to exercising on their own.

But at the same time, he highlighted how sports can serve as a mechanism to bring people together in times of trouble.

A moment of silence was also observed to remember the lives lost during the pandemic.

“Yes, it is very different from what we had all imagined,” said International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach. “But let’s cherish this moment because we are finally all here together.”

Joint flaggers (mostly) share their country’s flag

Uruguay’s flag bearers, Deborah Rodríguez and Bruno Cetraro Berriolo, lead their team during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium.

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Uruguay’s flag bearers, Deborah Rodríguez and Bruno Cetraro Berriolo, lead their team during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium.

Jamie Squire / Getty Images

These are the first Olympic Games in which male and female athletes could share honors as joint flaggers. That left pairs of athletes to figure out the best way to share their country’s unique flag.

There were mixed results: some were very courteous, while others seemed to compete to see who could wave the flag the most vigorously. Some pairs took turns holding the flag, while others maintained joint control.

Energetic flag-waving – and apparent moments of uncertainty – by Uruguay’s Deborah Rodríguez and Bruno Cetraro Berriolo quickly trigger discussionsas people wondered if the pair might be fighting for control or to make sure their flag was upright.

The United States team enters the Olympic Stadium

Flag bearers Sue Bird and Eddy Alvarez led Team USA to the Olympic Stadium towards the end of the parade of nations, a location designated not by the Japanese alphabet but by the USA hosting the 2028 Summer Games in The Angels.

Alvarez won a silver medal in speed skating at the 2014 Winter Games and is on the United States baseball team in Tokyo. Sue Bird is a perennial star in women’s basketball who is now in her fifth Olympiad.

Álvarez, 31, is a Cuban-American who hopes to become the sixth athlete to win a medal at the Winter and Summer Games.

A drone display is seen over the top of the Tokyo Olympic Stadium during Friday’s opening ceremony.

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A drone display is seen over the top of the Tokyo Olympic Stadium during Friday’s opening ceremony.

Toru Hanai / Getty Images

A world of drones floats over the Olympic Stadium

A brilliant spectacle took center stage during the opening ceremony: nearly 2,000 drones moved in perfect concert to form a rotating globe as they soared over Tokyo.

Exactly 1,824 drones they were used to form the huge orb that hovered above the Tokyo Olympic Stadium.

Remembering those we have lost

A moment of silence was observed around 20 minutes after Friday’s opening ceremony, as Olympic organizers encouraged people around the world to take a private moment to remember loved ones they lost.

The meager crowd of attendees at the stadium stood up for the celebration.

Similar moments have taken place at previous Olympics, but this year is particularly poignant as the world mourns millions of people who have died during the pandemic.

The moment of silence also recognized the 1972 deaths of Israeli Olympians who were killed by terrorists at the Munich Games. Its the first time The Olympics has signaled that massacre during an opening ceremony.

Later, the ceremony featured a surprising kabuki performance, which gave a serious tone to the jubilation on the field of the Olympic Stadium. That juxtaposition promises to be a recurring theme in an Olympic Games held in a city in a state of emergency due to COVID-19.

“This invigorating performance where tradition meets modernity contains our desire to cleanse the stadium of negative energy,” said the organizers, “while offering a prayer for all disasters and misfortunes in the world to come to an end.” .

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