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LIVE blog: Tokyo Olympics 2020 Opening Ceremony

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By | Olympics

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The Tokyo Olympics open with withy pomp and circumstance, walking a fine line between celebrating the feats of the world's best athletes while acknowledging the global hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

I am Robin Toskin inside Tokyo Olympic Stadium in Japan

The opening ceremony begins at 8pm Tokyo time, exactly at 2pm East Africa Time.

After the postponement of the Games last year, Japan, is ready to deliver Covid-19 hit Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee resolved to retain the 2020 despite the event taking place this year.

The Games run until Aug. 8. About 11,000 athletes from 204 national Olympic committees are expected, along with a team of refugee athletes competing under the Olympic flag.

So, officially these games are called the 2020 Tokyo Olympics or simply Tokyo 2020.

Additional reporting by Odero Charles & Waweru Titus

Follow the proceedings below:

6:01pm: General view of a firework display with the Olympic rings seen inside the stadium in the closing stages of the ceremony. [REUTERS/Dylan Martinez]
5:41pm: Protesters face police officers outside the Olympic Stadium. [REUTERS/Edgar Su]
5:35pm: Naomi Osaka of Japan holds the Olympic torch during the opening ceremony. [REUTERS/Mike Blake]
5:30pm: President of Kosovo Vjosa Osmani wearing a protective face mask celebrates as the Kosovo contingent enters the stadium. [REUTERS/Dylan Martinez]
 5:18pm: Austria contingent in the athletes parade during the opening ceremony. [REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth]

5:13pm: The Tokyo 2020 Olympics Opening Ceremony - Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan - July 23, 2021. Athletes from China during the athletes' parade at the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

FILE: Team captain featherweight Nick Okoth [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

4:pm: Meanwhile Boxer Nick Okoth will be the first Kenyan in action tomorrow (Saturday) in the Men’s featherweight category when he takes on Mongolia’s Tsendbaatar Erdenebat at 6:51pm Tokyo time, (12:51pm Kenyan time)

Fraser-Pryce leaves the flag-bearing duties to the giant Brown [Xinhua]

3:56pm: Jamaica: Sprinting legend Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and boxer Ricardo Brown lead out Team Jamaica. 

The infield continues to fill up as the Kenyan delegation march out in  Maasai culture-themed attire [Robin Toskin]

3:20pm: Flagbearers Mercy Moim of Kenya and Andrew Amonde of Kenya lead Team Kenya during the opening ceremony. [REUTERS/Phil Noble]

3:20pm: Rugby sevens captain Andrew Amonde and women's volleyball skipper Mercy Moim enter the Olympic stadium carrying the Kenyan flag, lead their contingent.

Rugby sevens captain Andrew Amonde and women's volleyball skipper Mercy Moim lead their contingent during the athletes’ parade [Robin Toskin]

The decision to have two flag-bearers was made by Olympics Kenya following information from the International Olympics Committee (IOC) allowing countries to have equal gender representation at the opening ceremony.

 
FILE PHOTO: Female archer Shazad Anwar was Kenya's flag-bearer at the Rio 2016 Games, becoming the first female within the country to have the honor at the global showpiece

 Female archer Shazad Anwar was Kenya's flag-bearer at the Rio 2016 Games, becoming the first female within the country to have the honour at the global showpiece.

2:35pm: The Japanese flag has entered the Olympic stadium 

July 23, 2021. Fireworks are seen from the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony REUTERS

2:20pm: Early fireworks: The sky over the National Stadium in Tokyo exploded in indigo and white as fireworks marked the start of the opening ceremony for the Olympics, celebrating the world's best athletes set to compete amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The countdown ends with a pyrotechnics display, the outer rim of the stadium exploding in a shower of multi-coloured sparks.

July 23, 2021. A performer during the opening ceremony REUTERS

2:15pm: The ceremony begins with an orchestral performance sound-tracking a motif of a seed germinating followed by a montage of athletes preparing for a Games that has been eight years in the making.

July 23, 2021. Journalists work inside the stadium before the opening ceremony [REUTERS]

1:55PM: Kenya is among 205 nations taking part in these Games plus the Refugee Team comprising 29 athletes.

The feet of an athlete from the Refugee Olympic Team are pictured as she waits behind the scenes before the opening ceremony [REUTERS]

Kenya first took part at the Olympics in 1956 in Melbourne Australia, but it was not until 1964 in Tokyo that Team Kenya won its first-ever medal – a Bronze courtesy of Mzee Wilson Kiprugut Chumo in 800m when he clocked 1:45.9 minutes… read his story here: 

FILE: In this Sept. 5, 1972, file photo, a member of the Arab Commando group which seized members of the Israeli Olympic Team at their quarters at the Munich Olympic Village, appears with a hood over his face on the balcony of the village building where the commandos held members of the Israeli team hostage. [Reuters]

Israeli Olympic team members killed by Palestinian gunmen at the 1972 Munich Olympics were remembered during the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony on Friday with a moment of silence, the first time this has happened.

The families of the 11 victims had long asked the International Olympic Committee to hold a minute's silence at a Games opening ceremony, but had until Friday been turned down.

2:00PM:  The opening video featured at the stadium recapped Japan's path to the Games and the challenges the world has faced since the selection of the Japanese capital as host in 2013.

It showed how in 2020 the coronavirus struck, with lockdowns forcing the unprecedented postponement only four months before the Games were supposed to open, setting off a roller-coaster period of uncertainty and preparations in isolation for the athletes.

July 23, 2021. Performers during the opening ceremony. [REUTERS]

Some of them are expected to use the ceremony to make statements about equality and justice and several nations will be represented by a man and a woman after the organisers changed their rules to allow two flagbearers.

 

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics Opening Ceremony - Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan - July 23, 2021, General view inside the stadium before the opening ceremony [Robin Toskin]

1:30pm: US First Lady Jill Biden arrives for the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. 

Only 15 global leaders are in attendance, along with Japanese Emperor Naruhito, who will formally open the Games as his grandfather Hirohito did in 1964, and US First Lady Jill Biden.

July 23, 2021. U.S. First Lady Jill Biden arrives ahead of the opening ceremony [REUTERS]

The opening is taking place without the usual mass choreography, huge props and cornucopia of dancers, actors and lights associated with past celebrations.

A vastly smaller number of athletes will march in the teams' parade, with many planning to fly in just before their competitions and leave shortly after to avoid infections.

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