New York Daily News: MANHATTAN – An Olympic Games already hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic acknowledged during the opening ceremony how a worldwide love for sports and competition brings everyone together — even during the loneliest moments of isolation.
As nations continued their battle against the health crisis, athletes on Friday marched through a near-empty stadium, some of them in socially-distanced clumps, to kick off the the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. It marked the official start of the worldwide event, which was postponed for nearly a year due to the pandemic.
Despite the varying situations around the world, every athlete has had the shared experience of adjusting their training and lifestyles to cope with a reality that limits interaction and contact.
“Apart, but not alone,” the official Olympics Twitter account wrote. “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.”
The post featured an image many people can likely relate to as the pandemic drags on — a woman running alone on a treadmill at the opening ceremony.
Despite COVID looming, the opening ceremony featured fireworks and choreography on a single stage meant to resemble the country’s fabled Mount Fuji. The $1.5 billion stadium built for the 2020 Olympics can hold nearly 70,000 people, but only about 950 VIPs will take part in the event. That includes around 800 foreign guests and 150 from Japan, CNN reported.
Despite the limited attendance, the celebratory opening ceremony canceled out shouts from protesters gathered outside the stadium in Japan, demanding the games, set to run until August 8, be canceled in light of the coronavirus crisis.
A vast majority of Japanese residents have dubbed the Olympics an unnecessary danger, risking the population’s health while barring them from attending the games and showcasing what their country has to offer. The nation has expressed that it felt strong-armed into hosting so the IOC can collect its billions in media revenue.
With COVID-19 cases on the rise in Japan, spectators have been banned from all events at Tokyo venues. So far, more than 100 new cases have been linked to the Olympics.
“We will continue to try to have this dialogue with the Japanese people knowing we will not succeed 100%. That would be putting the bar too high,” said IOC President Thomas Bach.
“But we’re also confident that once the Japanese people see the Japanese athletes performing in these Olympic Games — hopefully successfully — that then the attitude will become less emotional.”
A moment of silence was also held for all those who have died from COVID-19.
With News Wire Services
- Top Feature Photo: Members of Team China enter during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on July 23, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan – Richard Heathcote/Getty Images