Display of light, colour as Tokyo Olympics begins
Nigeria’s Esther Toko In Good Start
After the long await, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games finally began yesterday with a symbolic show of hope and tenacity in the face of adversity at its opening ceremony.
With the fanfare, the theatre, the famous athletes carrying the flag, the kabuki dance and the glistening fireworks, yesterday’s opening ceremony saw the host, Japan, display its rich culture, particularly with show of light and colour.
Amidst searing heat outside the stadium, the atmosphere was not exactly party-like. But hundreds of Japanese locals brimmed with anticipation and pride despite the widespread opposition to the Games
About 950 VIPs and world leaders inside the 68,000-seat main arena in Tokyo watched yesterday’s display amid rising COVID-19 case totals in the country, which forced organisers to ban crowds.
The opening ceremonies saw directors made the best use of projection technology to add colour and pageantry. Several large volleys of firework did add a burst of sound to what was otherwise an eerily quiet event, after organisers opted against playing artificial crowd noises in the arena.
A moment of silence for all victims of the COVID-19 pandemic was also observed, after which dancers representing Japanese woodworkers took the stage representing the country’s history and culture.
They formed Olympic rings made from the wood of trees planted the last time Japan hosted the Olympics in 1964, before the traditional Parade of Nations with athletes filing into the arena under the banners of their countries – though their numbers were much-reduced from previous years.
Plagued by the pandemic, scandals among officials, and strongly divided opinions among locals, Japan will hope the touching spectacle will help coalesce positive feeling around the £13billion sporting extravaganza.
A BBC Sports reporter, who covered the opening ceremony said: “As night falls, happy smiles are replaced by angry chanting. As we are asked to stand and observe a moment of silence to commemorate all those who have died of COVID in the past year, we can clearly hear the protesters outside the stadium. It’s an eerie, sobering reminder that most people in Japan are furious these games are still taking place.
“There are hundreds of people gathered who are chanting, among other things, “stop the Olympics.” A poll in the leading Asahi Shimbun newspaper in May suggested more than 80 percent of the population want the Games cancelled or postponed.
Meanwhile, Team Nigeria began its quest for medals on a good note yesterday with Esther Toko placing 5th in her heat in the Rowing event. The Nigerian overcame stiff challenge from other competitors in women’s single sculls with a time of 8:58.49. She will now compete in the repechage today for a chance at making the quarterfinals.