Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony highlights

In a relatively empty National Stadium, the 2021 Tokyo Olympics finally commenced with a 4-hour long opening ceremony. If you missed the show, here are 13 highlights that happened during the event.

1. Olympic rings made with wood from trees grown in 1964 

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The majestic Olympic rings unveiled at the opening ceremony were made from trees that grew from seeds planted during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

2. Moment of remembrance for the victims at the 1972 Munich Games

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Image adapted from: Mediacorp

During the opening ceremony, there was a special mention of the 11 Israeli athletes murdered at the 1972 Munich Games, alongside those who lost their lives due to Covid-19. A moment of silence was observed, and a special dance to honour the dead was performed.

This is the 1st official commemoration for the Israeli victims at the Games, ever since the tragedy happened 49 years ago.

3. Argentina and Portugal in party mode

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Team Argentina
Image adapted from: Mediacorp

Team Argentina and Team Portugal livened up the atmosphere at the opening ceremony with their enthusiastic entrances. The former delegation had their athletes raving together, while the latter group had flag bearers who might have drunk too many energy drinks for dinner.

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Image adapted from: Eurosport

4. Tonga’s heartthrob meets a new contender

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Tonga’s taekwondo athlete, Pita Taufatofua, stole the hearts of the audience at the 2016 Rio Olympics when he appeared shirtless while leading his country’s delegation.

At the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony, he appeared in a similar fashion, looking just as dashing as he did five years ago.

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But this time round, he met a new contender looking to steal his spotlight. He is none other than Rillio Rii, an Olympic rower for Vanuatu, who also appeared shirtless and oiled up. 

5. Kazakhstan’s stunning female flag bearer

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The flag bearers of Kazakhstan were Olga Rypakova and Kamshybek Kunkabayev, athletes from track and field and boxing respectively. When the pair led their delegation during the parade, we were awed by how beautiful Rypakova looked in her white gown. For a moment, she looked almost ethereal, like a goddess out of a fairytale.

6. French athlete nails backflip during the parade

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French gymnast Samir Aït Saïd decided against taking a simple walk across the National Stadium when it was his delegation’s turn to make an appearance. Instead, the Olympian mustered his courage and attempted a backflip while the entire world was watching – and he nailed it.

You can watch the French delegation’s appearance at the ceremony on French President Emmanuel Macron’s Twitter account.

7. Ireland delegation stops to bow at the Olympic staff

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The Irish team was one of the first few teams to emerge for the parade. Before they took their walk of fame across the venue, the team stopped before the Olympic staff and bowed to them. This gesture shows the team’s understanding of the host country’s culture, and the staff looked visibly heartened by it.

8. Who had the best mask fashion?

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Team China
Image credit: @Olympics

Besides admiring the delegations’ uniforms, you can also enjoy the variety of mask designs presented at the ceremony.

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Team Israel
Image credit: @Olympics

Some of the notable ones include China’s red-yellow gradient mask design, which blends nicely with their uniforms, and Israel’s sleek mask design that references its national flag.

9. The tireless Olympic staff cheering on the athletes are the real MVPs

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The delegation showcase took close to two hours to complete. By the 2nd half of the parade, several athletes could be seen sitting on the ground, likely burnt out from the long segment. But while the athletes were resting, there was a group of people who continued standing, dancing, and cheering tirelessly.

They were none other than the noble Olympic staff, who never once showed lethargy during the entire parade. Instead, they continued to welcome every delegation with the utmost enthusiasm, reflecting the high level of hospitality that Japan is known for.

10. Hilarious live pictogram imitation performance

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Image adapted from: Mediacorp

Japan’s creativity shone through its comical pictogram imitation act, which featured performers clad in stickman suits attempting to recreate the 2D sports pictograms that originated from the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

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Although there was a slight hiccup during the live performance, when a performer dropped the racket while recreating the badminton pictogram, one can certainly see the amount of effort invested into this intriguing performance at the opening ceremony.

11. Trolling at the Olympics

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Image adapted from: One Sports

Many who watched the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony would fondly remember Mr Bean’s iconic trolling during the show. The Tokyo Olympics has its fair share of troll moments, including a short segment that featured a “technician” messing with the venue lighting. 

He even childishly doodled a henohenomoheji – a Japanese meme face created with seven hiragana characters.

12. Creating the Tokyo Olympic logo with boxes and drones

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Many of the performances at the opening ceremony left us speechless. Often, you’d end up baffled during the first few minutes of the act, not knowing what to expect. But things would then come together, and you’d be granted a moment of enlightenment.

This was the case for the performance themed around the Tokyo Olympic logo. 

Initially starting out with randomly placed boxes, the performance was unfathomable. But when the camera panned out during the final moments of the performance, and when the performers unveiled the large “Tokyo 2020” flag, we finally realised that the performers were creating the official Tokyo Olympics logo.

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The logo was also then recreated using drones, signifying Japan’s technological expertise.

13. Naomi Osaka lights up the Tokyo Olympics cauldron

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The identity of the final torchbearer of every Olympics has always been a hotly speculated affair, and the Tokyo Olympics was no different. In the end, the final torchbearer of the 2021 Games turned out to be four-time Grand Slam tennis star, Naomi Osaka.

Before the Olympic debutant received the Olympic torch, the flame of hope was passed from other notable figures at the ceremony. They included the former baseball legends and teens from the affected regions of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.

Highlights of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony

It’s thrilling to see what the athletes will bring to the table during the 2021 Summer Games. But at the same time, we hope that everyone at the Games continues to observe the Covid-19 safety rules during this period.

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Cover image adapted from: @naomiosaka and @Tokyo2020

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