Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony: No fans but plenty of dancing and fireworks

The organisers use drones in a cunning manner. Credit: AP

The Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony took place in a subdued manner as fans were absent from the stadium and nations sent diminished groups to the event.

It was always going to be a very different ceremony due to the pandemic, with organisers having to adapt to the situation at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo.

No money was spared on fireworks. Credit: PA

The ceremony has been hit by a series of scandals, culminating in the dismissal of its director Kentaro Kobayashi on the eve of the event due to alleged anti-Semitic jokes he made during a comedy routine in 1998.

The ceremony offered an array of artistry. Credit: PA

The show’s composer Keigo Oyamada was forced to resign earlier this week after footage emerged of interviews in which he admitted bullying disabled children during his schooldays.

The Olympic Stadium from above. Credit: AP

And its executive creative director Hiroshi Sasaki stepped down in March following criticism of his suggestion that plus-size model Naomi Watanabe dress up as a pig during the ceremony.

An athlete jogs on a treadmill. Credit: PA

The ceremony itself went off without any obvious hitches, as the usual array of dancing and music was utilised by the artistic directors.

The opening montage which included footage of Japan winning the right to host the Games quickly took a sombre tone as the clock flashed forward before stopping at 2020 with empty streets.

Moments of silence to remember those who have lost their lives served as a poignant tribute amid the pandemic. The low-key ceremony struck the right balance in difficult times.

It would not be Japan without some high-tech wizardry and the drone show which helped wrap the ceremony up was extremely impressive.

Nearly 2,000 drones flew in perfect sync to create a globe above the stadium which was an incredible technical spectacle seen across Tokyo.

This year saw countries given the option to name two separate flag bearers for the event for the first time in Olympics history, allowing a male and female to carry out the role.

There was no shortage of dancing. Credit: PA

All athletes entered the stadium wearing masks, with many waving their paper flags as they went.

The walks around the stadium were soundtracked by songs from famous Japanese computer games, such as Pro Evolution Soccer.

The Olympics rings in all their glory. Credit: PA

Team GB sent a delegation of just 22, including flag bearers Hannah Mills and Mohamed Sbihi.

The Argentinian athletes enjoyed themselves. Credit: PA

Athletes from canoe slalom, fencing, weightlifting, sailing, boxing, rowing and trampolining featured in the curtain-raiser.

Team GB. Credit: AP

Internet sensation Pita Taufatofua carried the Tonga flag for a third successive Games following his starring role in Rio and PyeongChang.

Tennis star Naomi Osaka was entrusted with the symbolic role of lighting the Olympic fame.

The sphere opened like a flower – to embody vitality and hope according to the official description – before Osaka lit it to officially start the Games after the traditional long procession of the teams, speeches and fireworks.

Naomi Osaka lit the flame. Credit: AP

A total of 206 teams will compete in the Olympics, each one sending a delegation to strut their stuff in the stadium on Friday.

The view from the outside. Credit: AP

IOC president Thomas Bach addressed the assembled athletes, media and dignitaries, saying: “Today is a moment of hope.

“Yes it is very different from what all of us had imagined. But let us cherish this moment because finally we are all here together. This is the unifying power of sport. This is the message of solidarity, of peace and the message of resilience.”

Bach lavished praise on hosts Japan, saying: “Thank you to all Japanese people for making the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 possible.”

Locals were kept away by a ring of steel erected around the stadium.