The Latest on the Tokyo Olympics, which are taking place under heavy restrictions after a year’s delay because of the coronavirus pandemic:
Pita’s back, and he brought back his oil.
The shirtless Tongan whose fame rocketed after entering the 2016 Olympics with his upper body glistening for all to see — his name is Pita Taufatofua, by the way — returned to the Tokyo Games as one of his nation’s flagbearers again.
And yes, he was shirtless.
It’s the third consecutive Olympics in which Taufatofua has competed as an athlete. He competed in taekwondo at the Rio Games, took part in skiing at Pyeongchang in 2018 — yes, shirtless for that one, too — and is back in Tokyo as part of his taekwondo team again. Taufatofua tried to qualify in kayaking, but didn’t make the Tokyo cut in that sport.
He’s also used his fame for good. Taufatofua is a UNICEF ambassador, works with homeless shelters and is busy raising money for sporting equipment for nations in need.
Sue Bird is one of the flagbearers for the U.S. in the opening ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics, sharing that role with baseball’s Eddy Alvarez.
Bird is a five-time Olympian in women’s basketball. She remembers 2004 when the U.S. women’s basketball team got to walk at the front of the delegation along with flag bearer Dawn Staley, now the U.S. head coach in Tokyo. Bird says one of her favorite memories was walking in and hearing the crowd in Athens roar.
There was some noise for the athletes on Friday night. Just no roars; the stadium wasn’t anywhere near filled enough for those.
Bird says “this Olympics are like no other.”
The parade of athletes at the opening ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics has started.
Organizers expect about 5,700 athletes to take part in the parade. Some will skip it because of early competitions on Saturday or to avoid risk of exposure to the coronavirus. And this parade differs from most others in the past because the nations are being spaced out — a nod to social distancing.
Hundreds of volunteers are on the stadium floor as well to greet the athletes as they walk through. Many athletes are waving; others are capturing their entrance on their phone cameras.
Moments before the parade, a wooden set of Olympic rings was displayed at the center of the stadium in a nod to the 1964 Tokyo Games. There, athletes from around the world were asked to bring seeds that could be planted and become trees.
Wood from 160 pines and spruces, seeds that came from Canada, Ireland and Northern Europe, were used to build the set of Olympic rings displayed Friday.
Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach have arrived for the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Games.
Naruhito attended the 1964 Tokyo Olympics as a 4-year-old, watching the marathon and equestrian events. Bach won a gold medal in fencing at the 1976 Montreal Games.
They were followed by a delegation chosen to carry the Japanese flag into the stadium, before the host nation’s national anthem was performed by singer Misia.
Tributes were paid to those lost during the pandemic, and the Israeli delegation that was killed at the Munich Games in 1972. A moment of silence was offered inside the stadium.
With a blaze of indigo and white fireworks lighting the night sky, the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony has started.
It began with a single female athlete at the center of the stadium, kneeling. As she stood, the shadow behind her took the shape of a seedling, growing as she walked. A number of athletes were featured in a video that started with the moment Tokyo won the Olympic bid in 2013, then eventually to images of a world silenced by the pandemic.
Then came the fireworks, a 20-second blast of light — as if to say these Olympics have finally emerged from dark times.
The International Olympic Committee has released the order of the parade of nations for the opening ceremony and the names of all the flagbearers.
Greece, per Olympic tradition, enters first. The host nation always enters last, so it’ll likely take a couple hours or so before Japanese flagbearers Yui Susaki and Rui Hachimura lead their national contingent into the stadium.
The Refugee Olympic team goes second in the parade. The others are slotted by their order in the Japanese alphabet, so Iceland and Ireland precede Azerbaijan, for example.
The IOC says 206 teams — 205 nations and the refugee team — will be taking part in the opening ceremony. Some nations will have their flags carried by volunteers. Other nations will have only one flagbearer. Most will have two, with one male and one female athlete chosen for the role.
The Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony is about to begin, 364 days behind the original schedule and with a very different feel than what was originally intended before the pandemic changed everything.
The Olympic Stadium is largely empty. The Tokyo 2020 souvenir store outside the front gates is closed. But that doesn’t mean fans have stayed away. Hundreds of fans gathered outside the gates and along the sidewalks of closed streets, waving at any person with an Olympic credential or any vehicle that went by with an Olympic logo.
Track and field events will be held in the stadium later in these games. The track itself is covered by a large black tarp for the opening ceremony and the infield is covered with a white tarp, one where graphics will be displayed over the course of the evening.
Some dignitaries and invited guests will be in the stadium seats, including U.S. first lady Jill Biden.
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