Tokyo Olympics officially underway with subdued opening ceremony

A small contingent of Kiwi athletes have had the privilege of taking part in the parade of athletes at the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony this evening.

Rugby sevens star Sarah Hirini and boxer David Nyika bore the flag and were followed by just over a dozen athletes and support staff.

Sarah Hirini and David Nyika lead New Zealand in the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Source: Photosport

Nyika was a late replacement for rower Hamish Bond, who withdrew from the role of flagbearer after his race with the men’s eight was moved forward to tomorrow due to poor weather being forecasted later in the weekend.

Despite the lack of spectators, there was still plenty on offer for the viewers at home.

Fireworks mark the opening of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Source: Photosport

Modern technology offered the chance for some dazzling light and augmented reality displays inside Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium.

A moment of silence was observed for those lost during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, as well as athletes who had lost their lives, in particular the Israeli athletes killed by Palestinian assassins at the 1972 Munich Games.

There were still performers, albeit in reduced numbers, bringing Japanese culture and history to life.

Dancers perform during the opening ceremony in the Olympic Stadium at the 2020 Summer Olympics. Source: Associated Press

Of course, there was a feeling of emptiness throughout. There were no cheers, no flashlights, no crowd, and no real sense of atmosphere.

But that is part and parcel of these Games and organisers made the best of what they had.

The athletes themselves brought some flair to the parade. The Argentinian team broke into song and dance as they entered the Olympic Stadium, showing this was still a massively exciting moment in all their lives despite the heavy restrictions.

Over 11,000 athletes are competing in Tokyo, with a number of sports having already begun.

A multitude of Kiwis are in action on Saturday, starting with women's rowing pair Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler just after 12pm.

The Black Sticks follow not long after, while Kiwis will also feature in gymnastics, cycling, tennis, boxing, swimming and football in an action-packed day.

WATCH THE OLYMPICS: TVNZ 1 and TVNZ OnDemand feature 12 hours of free-to-air action focussed on Kiwi athletes each afternoon and evening, while Sky TV has Olympics coverage across 12 channels and streaming platforms.