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Naomi Osaka lights the Olympic cauldron. Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images

After a year-long delay, the Olympics finally got underway Friday as tennis star Naomi Osaka, who is competing for Japan, lit the cauldron, formally kicking off the Tokyo Games.

The big picture: Friday's opening ceremony looked, like many things over the last year, different than normal — multicolored seats replaced cheering fans, masks were a central part of the athletes' uniforms and a subdued, somber tone marked the occasion.

  • Masked athletes paraded into the stadium, waving to the near empty stands, while their friends, families and fans watched the muted opening ceremony from afar.
  • "The pandemic forced us to keep apart, to keep our distance from each other," President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach said following the parade of athletes.
  • "But today, wherever in the world you may be, we are united in sharing this moment together."

What happened: The ceremony paid tribute to the first responders of the pandemic and a moment of silence was held to honor the lives lost from coronavirus — which has reached more than 4.1 million globally.

  • Team USA entered the stadium with veteran basketball star Sue Bird and baseball player Eddy Alvarez leading the squad as flag bearers. It's the first time a duo shared the responsibility.
  • "The energy is insane. I know our country is in a tough moment right now, but right now we all feel unified and it's incredible," Bird said as she walked into the stadium.
  • Foreign dignitaries including first lady Jill Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron watched on as teams paraded into the national stadium.
  • Some Team USA athletes, including those on the women's soccer and gymnastics teams, were not able to attend the ceremony, so they held their own private event instead.
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
  • Meanwhile, outside the national stadium, a small protest against the Games broke out. Those inside Olympic stadium couldn't see the protesters but they could be heard, Axios' Ina Fried reported from Tokyo.

Though the Olympics are taking place amid the pandemic, the Games are not free from the virus.

Ina's view from inside the stadium:
Athletes watch performances after the parade of nations. Photo: Ina Fried/Axios
A view of the sky above the Olympic stadium. Photo: Ina Fried/Axios
Team USA enters the stadium during the parade of nations. Photo: Ina Fried/Axios
Greece is traditionally the first team of the parade of nations. Photo: Ina Fried/Axios
The start opening ceremony wouldn't be complete without fireworks. Photo: Ina Fried/Axios
Olympic rings inside the National Stadium. Photo: Ina Fried/Axios
The start of the opening ceremony. Photo: Ina Fried/Axios
The view from inside and outside Olympic Stadium before the opening ceremony kicks off. Photo: Ina Fried/Axios

Check out more photos here.

Go deeper:

Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.

Go deeper

Oct 25, 2021 - Sports

Unvaccinated athletes face 21-day quarantine at Beijing Olympics

Logos for the 2022 Winter Olympics at Yanqing Ice Festival in February in Beijing. Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Athletes, staff members and journalists at the 2022 Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games who have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus will be required to quarantine for three weeks, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) outlined in its newly published "playbooks."

Why it matters: The quarantine period is longer than the Games themselves, meaning vaccinations or an earlier arrival date will be required to participate in or cover the Games.

Photos: Denver’s most haunting Halloween homes

A giant spider and web covers a Wash Park house. Photo: Gigi Sukin/Axios

Costumes and eclectic candy collections aren’t the only ways to get into the seasonal spirit.

What to watch: Oversized spider webs, skeletons on chairlifts at "Screamboat," and evil inflatables are on display around Denver. Whether you’re hosting a spooky celebration or stocking up for trick-or-treaters, decking out your dwelling with funny or frightening Halloween decorations is a must this season.

FAA clears more planes after 5G fears

Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

The Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday it had approved nearly 80% of the U.S. commercial fleet to perform low-visibility landings at airports with new 5G services after fears of signal interference limited 5G rollout.

Why it matters: The FAA approvals will help provide more certainty after the agency raised fears that 5G signals could reduce the accuracy of certain equipment, known as radio altimeters, that helps planes land and take off in inclement weather.