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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

Updated Sep 11, 2021 - Sports

College football teams honor 20th anniversary of 9/11

The Virginia Cavaliers marching band performs as an American flag is displayed to commemorate 9/11 at halftime during a game at Scott Stadium on Sept. 11. Photo: Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

College football teams across the country unveiled tributes — from halftime shows to special uniforms — on Saturday in honor of the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

The big picture: Some schools honored alumni and veterans on their uniforms, others put together tributes to remember those who died. Nearly all held a moment of silence before kickoff.

Updated Sep 11, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden attends wreath-laying ceremony at Pentagon

President Biden, first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial on Sept. 11 in Arlington, Virginia. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

President Biden participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Pentagon on Saturday to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

The latest: Biden and first lady Jill Biden arrived at the Pentagon after visiting the Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and Ground Zero in New York City.

Everyone wants to be an influencer

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The number of people looking to become online influencers has exploded during the pandemic.

Why it matters: Almost anyone can find themselves in a position to become an influencer, and brands are throwing billions of dollars at online content creators.