Olympic Opening Ceremony: Live Blog

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The Olympic countdown clock has reached zero. (Photo by Yuki Iwamura / AFP)
The Olympic countdown clock has reached zero. (Photo by Yuki Iwamura / AFP)

The 2020 (yes, they're still called 2020) Tokyo Summer Olympic Games will officially open Friday with the Opening Ceremony, to be staged in a fanless Japan National Stadium.

The ceremony officially got underway at 8 p.m. local time, 7 a.m. ET. Athletes marched in by country, alphabetized by their position in the Japanese language.

You can stream the ceremony live right here.

The athletes who have already marched in are just sitting down on the floor. This takes awhile. (8:40 a.m.)

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Once again, Russia is in the Olympics despite running a state-sanctioned doping operation. Of course, they can't be called "Russia," even though every announcer calls them "Russia," and the name they're competing under, "ROC," literally stands for "Russian Olympic Committee." Severe punishment, definitely. (8:32 a.m.)

Different nations are reacting in very different ways to the lack of audience. Some appear surprised or disappointed. Others, like Canada, are leaning into the silence, clapping in unison to create their own noise. (8:14 a.m.)

In theory, the IOC's recommendation for national delegations to have both male and female flagbearers is a wonderful idea. In practice ... not so much. Since there's only one flag, the two flagbearers have to figure out how to split their ceremonial duties. Some enter with both carrying the flag, some pass it back and forth, and some appear to be fighting over who gets to wave the flag. (8:06 a.m.)

As the athletes march in, the commentary on fashion begins. Italy and Ukraine ... woof. (7:56 a.m.)

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The Argentinean contingent came to throw down. They're easily the liveliest of the bunch in the early going, and nobody in that delegation is saving any energy for another day. (7:47 a.m.)

If the music sounds familiar to you, you're not dreaming: this year's athletes are marching in to music from video games including Final Fantasy, Sonic the Hedgehog and Dragon Quest. (7:45 a.m.)

More than 200 nations will be marching through the stadium, led, as always, by Greece. As the ancestral home of the Olympics, Greece receives the honor of marching in first, followed by the refugee team. All athletes are masked. (7:41 a.m.) 

Performers during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Japan. Picture date: Friday July 23, 2021. (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)
Performers during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Japan. Picture date: Friday July 23, 2021. (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

An acrobatic carpentry segment ends with the Olympic rings built in real time. There's a smattering of applause in the stands. Seats have been covered with a range of colors to give the appearance of a full stadium, but it's largely empty. During quiet moments, the chanting of the protestors outside is audible. (7:34 a.m.)

The Opening Ceremony's In Memoriam segment honored not only the many lost to COVID, but the Israeli athletes murdered by terrorists during the 1972 Olympic Games. After many years of criticism, this marked the first time the Olympics publicly honored those athletes during a ceremony. (7:23 a.m.)

Which U.S. athletes will march? Basketball player Sue Bird and baseball player Eddy Alvarez will lead the U.S. contingent into the stadium, but many familiar faces won't be. Gymnasts and swimmers tend to skip the Opening Ceremony because it requires so much standing, and the track and field contingent hasn't even arrived in Tokyo. But the men's and women's basketball teams, among others, are likely to be in attendance. (7:18 a.m.)

The initial video kicking off the Ceremony skillfully pivots from the euphoria of Tokyo winning the Olympic bid in 2013, through the several Games afterward, and then to the joy of 2020 beginning ... only to shut down in total darkness. But from out of that darkness, a montage of athletes training at home, then coming together, then building to a dramatic countdown and fireworks spectacular to kick off the start of the Games. "Apart but not alone" is the early theme. (7:05 a.m. ET)

The Opening Ceremony begins with subdued, measured silence, unsurprising given the sparse nature of the audience. Fewer than 1,000 dignitaries and officials are in attendance, along with a small fraction of assembled athletes, media and other officials. (7:00 a.m. ET)

Outside the stadium, protests erupted and disrupted traffic all around National Stadium:

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Yahoo Sports' Henry Bushnell and Shalise Manza Young are in the arena for the Opening Ceremony. Here's what it looks like a few hours before showtime:

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Click image to see slideshow
Click image to see slideshow

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