Tokyo: International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach on Friday said the Tokyo Olympics 2020 offer a "moment of hope" and every athlete must "cherish this moment".
After much debate on the fate of the Tokyo Olympics thanks to the COVID-19 situation, the Games were finally declared open on Friday as fireworks kickstarted the Opening Ceremony here at the Japan National Stadium. Bach admitted that it was a "difficult" journey with "unprecedented challenges" to bring the Olympic Games back to Tokyo.
"Today is a moment of hope. Yes, it is very different from what all of us had imagined. But let us cherish this moment. Finally, we are all here together: the athletes from 205 National Olympic Committees and the IOC Refugee Olympic Team, living under one roof together in the Olympic Village," Bach said during the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games.
"This is the unifying power of sport. This is the message of solidarity, the message of peace and the message of resilience. This gives all of us hope for our further journey together.
"We can only be all together here, because of you, our gracious hosts, the Japanese people, to whom we would like to express all our appreciation and respect.
"Ten years ago, you set out on the journey to bring the Olympic spirit back to Tokyo after the outstanding Olympic Games Tokyo 1964. It was a difficult journey, with unprecedented challenges: first, reconstructing after the Great East Japan Earthquake, then the coronavirus pandemic. This is why our gratitude and admiration for you is even greater," he added.
Titled 'United by Emotion', the ceremony welcomed athletes from 206 nations to the Olympic Games in Tokyo - the second time the Japanese city has hosted the world's biggest sporting event.
Seiko Hashimoto the president of Tokyo 2020, offered her heartfelt gratitude to participating athletes and was "encouraged by your commitment in spite of all the difficulties you've had to endure".
"You have always believed in yourselves, and you have made tremendous efforts in what you do," she added. "You will treasure these moments forever."
"Now is the time to show the power of sport and of athletes like yourselves. I believe these strengths will bring hope to people and will unite the world.
"The world is waiting for you!"
Following their speeches, the Games of the XXXII Olympiad were officially declared open by His Majesty the Emperor Naruhito.