The Japanese Emperor Naruhito declared Tokyo Olympic Games open after the opening ceremony after the 205 delegations paraded in an almost empty national stadium. The multi-sport event, kicking off today, will go on till August 8. 

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After seeing a delay of more than a year, the Summer Olympics 2020, started with a unique opening ceremony. Deviating from the normal star-studded display, pomp and show, the ceremony this year was with fewer than 1,000 people in attendance, strict social distancing rules and signs calling on spectators to ‘be quiet around the venue’. The pandemic-affected sporting event saw protestors gather around the stadium as the delegations marched.

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The 68000-capacity stadium hosted only a few hundred spectators. Japan’s Emperor Naruhito, French President Emmanuel Macron and US First Lady Jill Biden were among the high-profile names in the live audience. 

With the International Olympic Committee’s permit, most countries had a male and female athlete lead their delegation – a move to promote gender equality. The Canadian contingent was seen wearing rainbow-coloured patches on their jackets as a symbol of their support to the LGBT community.

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The Olympic oath, too, was updated and the athletes swore their commitment to inclusion, equality, and non-discrimination for the first time at the biggest sporting event. 

With a moment of silence, the ceremony remembered all the people who lost their lives during the pandemic, members of the Israeli delegation killed during the 1972 Munich Games massacre, the 2011 earthquake, Tsunami and the nuclear disaster.

Members of the Japanese self defense forces raised the national flag on the Protocol Stage as the national anthem ‘Kimi Ga Yo’ played in the background.

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The country’s famous singer Misia sang the national anthem.

The torch relay through the stadium featured a number of athletes, a doctor and nurse and children from the Japanese region Fukushima, which was devastated by an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in March 2011. The torch was then passed to Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka, who lit the Olympic cauldron, officially kick-starting the Tokyo Games.

  India’s biggest Olympics contingent was led by Hockey captain Manpreet Singh and boxer Mary Kom. Twenty-five members of the Indian contingent attended the opening ceremony, including athletes and officials. The total strength of the team is 228, out of which 119 are athletes.