Tokyo: After a year of delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic and no shortage of controversy in the buildup, the Tokyo Olympics have opened with a toned-down ceremony at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium.
The ceremony began with a fireworks display in the Tokyo 2020 colors and choreography that featured several nods to the pandemic and the challenges faced by athletes over the past year.
For the first time, a moment of silence was held in memory of the 11 Israeli Olympic team members killed by Palestinian gunmen at the 1972 Munich Games.
Attended by just a few hundred dignitaries - including Japanese Emperor Naruhito - and the media, the ceremony struck a largely sombre tone. Occasionally, protesters could be heard outside the stadium. Many in Japan remain unhappy about the Games taking place.
A far smaller number of athletes than usual took part in the Parade of Nations, in a bid to reduce the risk of coronavirus infections, walking out to music from well-known Japanese video games. Some did their best to liven up the near-empty stadium, waving to fans who weren't there and dancing.
The ceremony wound down with a rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine," while nearly 2,000 drones illuminated the sky above the stadium in the shape of a revolving globe.
"Today is a moment of hope," said IOC President Thomas Bach in his speech. "Yes it is very different from what all of us imagined. But finally we are all here together."
After that, it was left to Emperor Naruhito to declare the Games officially open. And then finally, the Olympic flame was lit by tennis star Naomi Osaka Now it will be the athletes' turn to light up these Games.