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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 14, 2021 - Sports

Gymnasts urge Congress to remove U.S. Olympic committee's directors

Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney and Maggie Nichols. Photo: Saul Loeb/pool/AFP via Getty Images

Four American gymnasts asked Congress to dissolve the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee board of directors on Wednesday over its handling of the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal, per the Wall Street Journal.

The big picture: Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Maggie Nichols allege in a letter to Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) that the USOPC learned of the Nassar abuse reports in 2015, around the same time as USA Gymnastics, but "took no investigative action," according to WSJ.

Updated Oct 13, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on combating cyberattacks

On Wednesday, October 13th, Axios chief technology correspondent Ina Fried and tech policy reporter Margaret Harding McGill examined the strategies that governments and data-driven industries are employing to protect against harmful cyberattacks, featuring Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) executive director Brandon Wales and Silverado Policy Accelerator co-founder & chairman Dmitri Alperovitch.

Brandon Wales illustrated the need for more action from the private sector in helping the government mitigate ransomware attacks after they’ve occurred, CISA’s new Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative, and the prevalence of both nation-states and criminal organizations executing more cyber-related attacks.

  • On why companies should prepare for potential cyberattacks earlier: “I think part of changing that calculus is for the industry to better understand that the time to grapple with ransomware is not after you’ve been hit, because after you’ve been hit, you’re in an incredibly difficult and challenging circumstance and you’re often going to go with whatever you think is going to be most expeditious to get your network back up and running quickly.”
  • On what sorts of attacks are becoming more common: “I think that we are absolutely in an environment where we are facing both a concerted effort by nation-states to utilize cyber-related attacks to be prepared for future disruptions of our critical infrastructure, to steal our technology and our government secrets, as well as criminal organizations using cyber to further their nefarious criminal enterprises.”

Dmitri Alperovitch clarified how ransomware attacks have impacted global supply chains, how private sector companies can protect themselves from future attacks, and the talent shortage of cybersecurity professionals in the workforce.

  • On the recent rise in ransomware cyberattacks: “Ransomware has been a problem for a while now, but it certainly seems like the attacks have only accelerated, particularly in the last year or so.”
  • On how to fix the shortage of talent in the cybersecurity industry: “There’s no silver bullet, but we have to invest in our education. That’s key. We need to pump out more cyber security professionals out of our academic institutions.”

Axios co-founder and CEO Jim VandeHei hosted a View from the Top segment with Google SVP of Global Affairs Kent Walker, who explained what large tech companies are doing to combat increasing cyberattacks.

  • “We developed new security techniques, we rebuilt our architecture and we adopted a defense in depth approach to security...one example is we take a zero trust approach. We verify anyone accessing our systems, and we use techniques like multi-factor authentication because we knew that going forward, we had to expand the way we're thinking about the whole threat landscape and continually stay evolving and to stay ahead of the attackers.”

Thank you Google for sponsoring this event.

California governor declares drought emergency for entire state

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speakinng to reporters in Los Angeles in September. Photo: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) extended a drought emergency declaration to cover the entire state on Tuesday.

Why it matters: "California is experiencing its worst drought since the late 1800s, as measured by both lack of precipitation and high temperatures," per a statement from the governor's office. This past August was the driest and hottest one on record, "and the water year that ended last month was the second driest on record," the statement added.