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The pandemic-stricken Tokyo Olympics open in peaceful ceremony without spectators!


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The pandemic-stricken Tokyo Olympics open in peaceful ceremony without spectators!

The Tokyo Olympics were declared open in an eerily empty stadium yesterday after braving a year-long delay from the pandemic and ongoing coronavirus threats, making them arguably the most remarkable Olympics in history.

Japan’s Emperor Naruhito made the announcement against the backdrop of thousands of empty seats at the 68,000-seat Olympic Stadium in Tokyo after Covid-19 forced organizers to admit a handful of spectators to the festivity.

The stripped-down ceremony, simplified to reduce the risks of the coronavirus, took place in the presence of fewer than 1,000 VIPs and several thousand athletes.

In a visual highlight, nearly 2,000 synchronized drones formed a spinning globe above the stadium, based on a cover version of John Lennon’s “Imagine”.

A reduced parade of about 5,700 athletes, far fewer than the usual numbers, poured into the stadium, not all of them socially distancing but all wearing masks.

Fears that the global gathering of 11,000 athletes could turn into a super-distributed event has made the Games deeply unpopular in Japan, where polls have shown opposition for months.

“I declare the Tokyo Games open,” said the monarch, wearing a white surgical mask.

Japan spent nearly $15 billion on the Games, including $2.6 billion in additional costs after being the first in modern Olympic history to be postponed in March 2020.

Tokyo is also battling a spate of virus cases and is undergoing emergency measures, though not complying with a strict lockdown.

Organizers hope public opinion will turn when the full sports program kicks off on Saturday, with swimming, gymnastics, cycling and tennis among the top attractions.

The pandemic has not been the only hiccup, with scandals ranging from corruption during the bidding process to allegations of plagiarism over the Tokyo 2020 logo design.

The controversies continued on the eve of the Games, with the opening ceremony director being fired on Thursday for making a joke about the Holocaust in a 1998 video.

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