Tokyo: The Olympics got off to low-key beginning in front of an empty stadium here on Friday.
Thanks to the fear generated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Japan’s Emperor Naruhito kicked off the showpiece event against the backdrop of thousands of vacant seats at Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium with a capacity of 68,000. Naomi Osaka lit up the Olympic cauldron.
“I declare open the Games of Tokyo,” the monarch said, with a white surgical mask on. The opening ceremony unfolded in front of few thousand VIPs and several thousand athletes from across the world.
Boxing legend and 2012 London Games bronze medallist MC Mary Kom and men’s hockey team skipper Manpreet Singh were India’s flagbearers at the parade of the participating nations.
Almost 2,000 synchronised drones created a revolving globe over the stadium, to a cover John Lennon’s “Imagine” version, reported news agency AFP. Only 5,700 athletes — much lower than the usual numbers — checked into the stadium, not all of them socially distanced but every one was seen wearing a mask.