Six Must See Moments From the Olympics Ceremony

The impact of COVID will make this year's Olympic Games look different to any other—but the opening ceremony remained, as always, a spectacle to behold.

Held in Tokyo, the pandemic and rising case numbers across Japan meant the event was held in an almost empty stadium—only about 1,000 people were in attendance.

It began with a geometric light show, morphing into a digital view of the stadium and zooming into the grass. The display then focused on a seed and showed a single person, illuminated in green in the center of the stadium.

"Japan hopes to sow a seed of hope that will grow in the hearts of people tonight," BBC commentator Hazel Irvine said.

Footage of empty streets were shown, highlighting the COVID lockdowns before a montage of athletes training in their homes due to social distancing.

Below, Newsweek highlights some of the key moments from the ceremony.

Opening Dance

The ceremony acknowledged the impact of the coronavirus across the world and on sport, with people spotlighted exercising on a rowing machine, a treadmill and an exercise bike.

Dancers performed routines highlighting some of the emotions felt through the pandemic, from being restricted to loneliness—as well as images of unity and kinship with others experiencing similar feelings.

Apart, but not alone.

With the emergence of COVID-19, many athletes had to train for this moment in isolation. But they were always connected by their hope and shared passion. ❤️#StrongerTogether #OpeningCeremony pic.twitter.com/7teAvhljXe

— Olympics (@Olympics) July 23, 2021
olympics opening dance
Performances during a light show at the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 23, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Moments of Silence

The stadium fell dark, with subtle lights as tribute was paid to those who have lost their lives in the pandemic.

Tributes were also paid to the Israeli delegation killed by Palestinian gunmen in Munich in 1972, with a moment of silence for them.

A solo spotlighted dancer was then the focus in the center of the stadium—on the floor before rising to his feet. After a spellbinding performance, he fell to the floor.

Attendees stood as they paid tribute to those lost to COVID with a moment of silence.

The #Olympics opening ceremony took a moment of silence to remember those who lost their lives during the Covid-19 pandemic #Tokyo2020 pic.twitter.com/nWp0O6ipDg

— Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) July 23, 2021

For the first time, a minute's silence was held to honour the 11 victims of terrorism at the 1972 Munich Olympics. An extremely important and powerful decision!#TokyoOlympics2021 pic.twitter.com/qTNNoa9Kcp

— Tzipi Hotovely (@TzipiHotovely) July 23, 2021

Fireworks

While some things might have been missing or changed, fireworks remained a constant.

A spectacular ring around the stadium started the ceremony. Later on, a second burst was set off after the five Olympic rings were erected in the center of the stadium.

More went off once the procession of arrivals was over, and a further one as the Emperor Naruhito of Japan officially opened the games.

And we're off! 🎆😍

The opening ceremony is underway!

📺📲 Watch the #Tokyo2020 opening ceremony: https://t.co/3lvo2HUHcF#bbcolympics pic.twitter.com/YEKo4X9CjK

— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) July 23, 2021

The time has finally arrived.

The athletes have overcome many obstacles to reach this moment. Even when things were hard, they never gave up on their dream.

Now, the @Tokyo2020 #OpeningCeremony begins...#StrongerTogether | #Olympics pic.twitter.com/GpmB5fLqk6

— Olympics (@Olympics) July 23, 2021

The Olympic rings and fireworks display. #Tokyo2020 #SeeUsStronger @CignalTV #Olympics pic.twitter.com/8wk4nVhAmm

— Gretchen Ho (@gretchenho) July 23, 2021

Arrivals

Competitors walked into the stadium, waving their flags as usual—though this year wearing masks, a reminder of the ever-present constraints of the pandemic.

They entered to musicians playing versions of Japanese video game soundtracks. This included songs from Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest and Kingdom Hearts.

Can you name that tune? 🤔

Some of the delegations are walking in to the music of famous Japanese video games | @CignalTV @OneSportsPHL #SeeUsStronger #Tokyo2020 pic.twitter.com/tU6p3W2aMn

— Paolo del Rosario (@paodelrosario) July 23, 2021

Well, that's one way to enter!

📺📲 Watch the #Tokyo2020 opening ceremony: https://t.co/3lvo2HUHcF#bbcolympics pic.twitter.com/cE058S7ujf

— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) July 23, 2021

Each group entering had their own unique ensembles, with an array of colors and styles on display, highlighting the many cultures at the competition.

Tonga's Olympic flag bearer, Pita Taufatofua, made his return with another topless entrance.

Rio 2016 ✅
PyeongChang 2018 ✅
Tokyo 2020 ✅

Pita Taufatofua is back, he's topless, and he's stolen the show once again! 😂

📺📲 Watch the #Tokyo2020 opening ceremony: https://t.co/3lvo2HUHcF#bbcolympics pic.twitter.com/TvqitJQxDe

— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) July 23, 2021

Teams came out in order of the Japanese alphabet, except for France, the U.S. and Japan who came out at the end.

The official Olympic Charter states: "The delegations parade in alphabetical order according to the language of the host country, except for Greece, which leads the parade, and for the host country, which brings up the rear."

Future host countries also come toward the end, hence France and Team USA's positions.

Team USA entered wearing navy blazers and striped shirts and chanting USA. First lady Jill Biden was seen standing up to applaud them.

jill biden at olympics
U.S. First Lady Jill Biden waves during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on July 23, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. Dylan Martinez/Pool/Getty Images

Drone Display

A floating version of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games logo was made with drones, lit up and flying in the air.

This then transformed into a formation of a globe.

Incredible! What a moment ❤️🌎

📺📲 Watch the #Tokyo2020 opening ceremony ⤵️ #bbcolympics pic.twitter.com/LuWKsRnED8

— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) July 23, 2021
olympics drone
Drones fly together to create the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games' emblem in the sky over the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on July 23, 2021. Franck Fife/AFP via Getty Images

Naomi Osaka Lights Olympic Cauldron

The Olympic cauldron was lit at the end of the ceremony, with tennis player Naomi Osaka performing the final act as the last torch bearer.

Osaka's match against China's Zheng Saisai had been moved to Sunday, which had sparked rumors of her being involved in the ceremony.

naomi osaka olympic cauldron
Naomi Osaka of Team Japan lights the Olympic cauldron with the Olympic torch during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on July 23, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. Matthias Hangst/Getty Images