Updated Jul 23, 2021 - Sports

In photos: Olympics opening ceremony kicks off pandemic-delayed Games

Picture of the cauldron lit with the words "Tokyo 2020 in the background"

The Olympic Flame burns after the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron during the opening ceremony. Photo: FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images

The Olympics opening ceremony kicked off Friday in a near-empty stadium in Tokyo.

The big picture: The ceremony, which featured fewer performers than usual, started with the idea of being apart but not alone, "recognizing and conveying the emotional connection for athletes training around the globe for the last 17 months, doing much of that in isolation," NBC's Mike Tirico said.

What they're saying: "Today is a moment of hope, yes? It is very different from what all of us had imagined. But let us cherish this moment," said Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee.

  • Olympic athletes "had to face great challenges on your olympic journey. Like all of us, you were living with great uncertainty through the pandemic ... You persevered. You never gave up. And today, you are making your Olympic dream come true."
In photos:
Picture of empty stadium
A view into the stadium before the opening ceremony starts. Photo: Michael Kappeler/Picture alliance via Getty Images
pICTURE OF Olympics Performer
A performer is seen acting during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images
Picture of performance of Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony
In a performance called "Connecting the Dots," dancers use elastic rope to convey the inner workings of the body and the heart. Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Performers dance during the opening ceremony. Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Picture of jILL bIDEN
First lady Jill Biden arrives to attend the opening ceremony. Photo: Dylan Martinez/AFP via Getty Images
Picture of Olympics opening ceremony
The Japanese flag is carried past the Olympic cauldron during the opening ceremony. Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Picture of the Japanese flag next the Cualdron
The centerpiece of the cauldron represents Mt. Fuji and, at the summit, a representation of the sun. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
PICTURE of Japanese flag being raised
The Japan Flag is raised as the national anthem is performed. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
picture of the Olympic rings being formed
Olympic rings are brought together during the opening ceremony. Photo: Jan Woitas/picture alliance via Getty Images
Picture of Team Argentina arriving
Flag bearers Cecilia Carranza Saroli and Santiago Raul Lange of Argentina lead their team in the parade of nations. Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images
picture of team israel arriving
Flag bearers Hanna Minenko and Yakov Toumarkin lead team Israel in the parade of nations. The country is taking a run at team sports for the first time since 1976. Photo: Matthias Hangst/Getty Images
Photo of sardinia athletes
Athletes from Sardinia. Photo: Ina Fried/Axios
Picture of Team UK
The Great Britain team with flag bearers sailor Hannah Mills and rower Mohamed Sbihi enter the stadium. Photo: Michael Kappeler/Picture alliance via Getty Images
Picture of iran delegation
Iran's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium. Photo: Hannah McKaya/AFP via Getty Images
Picture of Olympic Team Guatemala entering the opening ceremony
Flag bearers Isabella Maegli and Juan Maegli — the first sibling flag bearers — lead team Guatemala during the opening ceremony. Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Picture of the Team Tonga flag bearers, the man is shirtless and his torso is covered in oil
Flag bearers Malia Paseka and Pita Taufatofua lead team Tonga out during the opening ceremony. Photo: Hannah McKay - Pool/Getty Images
Picture of a Congo athlete at the opening ceremony, they're wearing two Congo flags on their head
A member of Democratic Republic of the Congo's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium. Photo: Hannah McKay/AFP via Getty Images
Mireia Belmonte and Saul Craviotto carry the flag for team Spain. Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Picture of Russian athletes wearing red suits during the opening ceremony taking a selfie
Delegation of the ROC (Russian Olympics Committee) Team takes part in the parade of nations at the opening ceremony. Russia cannot use its name, flag or national anthem during the games due to sanctions over the country's doping scandal. Photo: Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS via Getty Images
Picture of Team Venezuela
Flag bearers Karen Leon and Antonio Jose Diaz Fernandez lead Team Venezuela out. Photo: Maja Hitij/Getty Images
Picture of Team USA
Flag bearers Sue Bird and Eddy Alvarez lead Team USA in the parade. Team USA has a total of 613 athletes, the second largest Olympic team in U.S. history. Photo: Maja Hitij/Getty Images
Picture of Olympic stadium
General view inside the stadium as fireworks are set off during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Photo: Maja Hitij/Getty Images
Photo of the Olympic stadium reflecting the Olympic slogan, "Faster, Higher, Stronger, Together."
An overview shows athlete delegations taking part in the opening ceremony, with the Olympic slogan projected in the middle. Photo: Francois-Xavier Marit/AFP via Getty Images
Photo of Team Japan entering the stadium
The team from Japan with flag bearers wrestler Yui Susaki and basketball player Rui Hachimura enter the stadium. Photo: Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images
Picture of Olympic stadium
General view inside the stadium during the opening ceremony. Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Photo of the olympic stadium with drones making up a figure of the world
A drone display is seen over the top of the stadium during the opening ceremony. Photo: Dylan Martinez - Pool/Getty Images
Picture of drones in the Olympics opening ceremony
Drones fly together to create the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games' emblem. Photo: Franck Fife/AFP via Getty Images
Picture of Tokyo and the drones
Photo: Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images
picture of IOC president
Thomas Bach from Germany, president of the International Olympic Committee, speaks next to Seiko Hashimoto, president of the Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Photo: Jan Woitas/picture alliance via Getty Images
Picture of two people holding the Olympic flame
The Olympic Flame is carried into the stadium. Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Picture of Naomi Osaka lighting the Olympic flame
Naomi Osaka lights the Olympic flame. Photo: Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images
Picture of Naomi Osaka after lighting the cauldron
Naomi Osaka of Team Japan lights the Olympic cauldron with the Olympic torch. Photo: Matthias Hangst/Getty Images
Picture of the Olympic stadium with fireworks going off celebrating the lighting of the cauldron
General view inside the stadium as Naomi Osaka lights the Olympic cauldron with the Olympic torch during the Opening Ceremony. Photo: Maja Hitij/Getty Images
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