This is the first-ever Games opening with no spectators due to the risk of the spread of coronavirus infection. Also, according to Kyodo, the number of high-profile guests will be reduced: fewer than a thousand are planned.
WHO WILL OPEN THE GAMES?
The programme for the Olympics has also changed. As the Games are held under the banner of gender equality, women’s disciplines have been added to the programme, and there are more mixed events. The organisers have almost managed to achieve absolute gender equality: female athletes will account for 48.8%. At the previous Games the percentage was lower: in London it was 44.2%, in Rio – 45%.
During the parade, the delegations will march according to the Japanese katakana alphabet, and the refugee team will march right after Greece. The Olympics will be traditionally opened by Japan’s Emperor Naruhito.
The Tokyo Olympics organisers have decided to forgo the expensive shows for which the opening ceremony is renowned. Instead, they will have a no less solemn format – it should emphasise the Japanese flavour.
Due to coronavirus restrictions, only 950 officials are present at the arena.
The theme of the opening ceremony has been dubbed “Moving Forward” and will touch on the global health crisis that forced the postponement of the Tokyo Games by a year, as well as Japan’s recovery from the most devastating earthquake in its history in 2011.
The ceremony will also touch on other topical issues and include a traditional parade of athletes. The current Tokyo Olympics were to be held from 24 July to 9 August 2020. Due to the pandemic, the competition has been postponed for a year and will run until 8 August. The organisers decided to hold the Games without foreign fans, and local spectators will not be allowed to attend Olympic events in six Japanese prefectures, including Tokyo.
Rules and rituals of the opening and closing ceremonies
The opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games are held at the largest stadium in the city according to a strictly approved ritual defined by the Olympic Charter.
The Opening Ceremonies represent the official start of the Olympic Games. An important part of the ceremony is the artistic programme, allowing the host country to showcase its past and present. The ceremonies usually start with the hoisting of the host country’s flag and the playing of the national anthem. The host country then presents artistic performances of music, singing, dance and theatre of its culture, history and the motto of the Olympic Games.
The traditional part of the ceremony begins with the Parade of Nations, with most participants marching through the stadium, country by country. The delegation of Greece, home of the Olympic Games, comes first. Then come the delegations of all the countries. The order of marching is set in alphabetical order, and the delegation of the country which organises the Games completes the parade. A banner with the name of each country’s delegation in the front. One of the most famous athletes of the national team carries the national flag.
After all the countries have been paraded, the President of the Organising Committee of the Games, and then the IOC President, make a speech. At the end of his speech, he introduces the head of state of the host country, or the person representing him, who officially announces the opening of the Games. The Olympic flag is then carried into the stadium and the Olympic anthem is played while it is raised. The Olympic Charter states that the Olympic flag shall be “unfurled throughout the Olympic Games on a flagpole placed prominently in the main stadium.
The flag bearers of all nations shall then be positioned around the podium, where one athlete from the host nation, one coach and one judge from the host nation shall recite the Olympic oath. This is followed by the completion of the torch relay on the stadium track. After completing one last lap around the stadium, the torch, carried by the runners from Olympia, is brought to the bowl. The Olympic flame is lit and stays lit until the close of the Games. Another IOC rule states that the Olympic flame bowl must be visible from outside the stadium to all the inhabitants of the host city. After the Ceremony, the artistic performance begins.
The closing ceremony of the Games begins with the parade of athletes, in which also one of the team’s athletes carries their country’s flag. The President of the International Olympic Committee makes a speech thanking the organisers and announcing the Games of the next Olympiad closed. Three national flags are raised on the flagpoles: the flag of Greece, the flag of the host country and the flag of the country where the Games of the next Olympiad will be held.
The Olympic flag is lowered and solemnly carried unfurled in front of the central podium. The Olympic flame is extinguished in the bowl. Sounds artillery salute, sings the chorus. The closing celebration of the Games begins in the arena.