2020 Tokyo Olympics: Check Out All the Highlights From the Opening Ceremony

by Amy Myers

After a year’s delay, the long-awaited 2020 Tokyo Olympics kicked off yesterday, marking the 32nd summer games. And while viewers are most excited to see who takes medals back to their home countries, never to be underestimated is the dazzling and spectacular opening ceremony.

While COVID-19 vaccinations are becoming more readily available, the International Olympic Committee wanted to ensure the safety of its athletes. As a result, the stands during the opening ceremony remained mostly empty, save for a few of the competitors’ family members. So, instead of waving to a sea of doting fans and supporters, the guests of honor instead directed their greetings to cameras broadcasting the 2020 Tokyo Olympics all over the world.

Despite the oddly quiet stadium, this doesn’t mean the opening ceremony was any less impressive than in previous years. Japan, with its centuries of art, culture and history, demonstrated some of its most captivating and diverse performances on Day 0 of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. From a classical pianist to contemporary dance, the opening ceremony celebrated the nation’s most beloved art forms. But perhaps the most eye-catching performance was the display of Kabuki theater. This style of theatre is best known for its elaborate costumes and dynamic acting.

Check out the first two minutes of NBC’s breakdown for more of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics’ opening ceremony highlights.

2020 Tokyo Olympics Features Two Flag Bearers Instead of One

Usually, during the opening ceremony, one flag bearer leads their country’s athletes into the stadium. This is where they first proudly represent their home nation in the Olympics. This year, however, countries could choose two athletes to hold the flags–one male and one female. This was a decision that the International Olympic Committee made last year to improve gender equality in the world games.

The U.S. partook in the rule change, giving Eddy Alvarez and Sue Bird the honor to carry the Stars and Stripes. Alvarez is a U.S.A. baseball infielder, while Bird is a point guard for our nation’s Women’s Basketball. Bird currently holds the most Olympic medals than any other basketball player (male or female) in history. Birds teammates chose them specifically to hold our country’s emblem, an honor that she found “mind-blowing.”

In an interview with Today, Bird reflected, “I think that’s the best part, to be honest. To have your peers to kind of see your career and pick you to be the one to lead us in.”

Previously, in 2004, Bird’s then-teammate, Dawn Staley, carried the flag. Bird walked alongside her while entering the stadium in Athens, Greece. Yesterday, Bird was able to continue the team’s history and legacy as she once again demonstrated the U.S.A. Women’s Basketball’s resilience and victory.