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Tokyo Olympics: All you need to know about the Opening Ceremony

Celebrated boxer MC Mary Kom and men's hockey team skipper Manpreet Singh will be India’s flag bearers at the event
Mary Kom.
Mary Kom.
File Photo.

Our Bureau   |   Published 20.07.21, 04:50 PM

There's a lot happening in Tokyo already. Covid cases are wreaking havoc at the Olympic village, IOC chief Thomas Bach, who is currently in Japan, said he had “sleepless nights” and “doubts” over the event, and Opening Ceremony music composer Keigo Oyamada resigned after acknowledging that he bullied classmates with disabilities as a student. But despite all of that, the mega event will continue as planned, with the Opening Ceremony scheduled for July 23. 

Here's a round-up of everything you must know before the grand ceremony gets underway. 

First, the history

The Opening Ceremony has been a permanent ritual of every quadrennial event since 1896 Athens, the first edition of the modern Games. Its major objective is to let the hosts showcase their culture, heritage and history on an international stage. The Olympic charter says, “The protocol and splendor of the Olympic ceremonies, which go hand-in-hand with the celebration of the Games as everyone knows them today, make this event unique and unforgettable.” International Olympic Committee (IOC) founder Pierre de Coubertin believed the opening ceremony provides the platform to showcase artistic acumen, before athletics take centre stage.

What to expect

A number of events -- an artistic program highlighting the history and culture of Japan, the parade of athletes, lighting of the Olympic flame and the release of the doves of peace. The Games will be opened by Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. 

Other important aspects of the ceremony comprise: Raising of the Olympic flag, the Olympic anthem, the Japanese anthem, taking of oath by an athlete, official and coach, and the flame and torch relay.

Venue, Time and the man behind it all

The event will be held at the National Stadium in Tokyo. The venue, designed by the great architect Kengo Kuma, has a seating capacity of 68,000. The event will be produced and managed by Marco Balich, a creative director from Italy, in collaboration with advertising firm Dentsu. Balich was also at the helm of the 2016 Rio opening ceremony. “I think for sure the Olympic ceremony, which is a window of all humanity, will have to reflect somehow or reference somehow what has happened,” Balich was quoted as saying by Reuters in March 2020. The event will begin at 4:30 PM IST on July 23.

Who will attend the event?

Due to pandemic-induced restrictions, and an ongoing state of emergency in Tokyo, no general public spectators will be allowed into the venue. But there will be as many as 11,000 athletes representing 206 nations. Celebrated boxer MC Mary Kom and men's hockey team skipper Manpreet Singh will be India's flag bearers at the opening ceremony. India will have two flag-bearers -- one male and one female -- at the upcoming Tokyo Games to ensure “gender parity”. “It would be a huge huge moment for me given that it is my last Olympics. Who knows I might even get emotionally overwhelmed,” said pugilist and six-time world champion Kom. Among others, Japan's Emperor Naruhito and US First Lady Jill Biden are also expected. Diplomats, foreign dignitaries, sponsors and IOC members will also be present.

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