Delayed Games Opening Ceremony A Virtual Television Event

IOC JOC XXX11 Summer Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 – 01st Day

The scaled down but much looked forward to Opening Ceremony was held at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, heralding the beginning of the Games after a delay of one year due to the COVID 19 pandemic. His Excellency, Emperor Naruhito was invited to Declare The Games Open, with Honourable Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga in attendance. Hashimoto Seiko – Head of the Olympic Games Organising Committee together with Thomas Bach – President, International Olympic Committee jointly welcomed the reported 15 Heads of States & around 1000 Very Important Person / Distinguished Invitees who made it to the event. Around 11,000 Athletes representing some 205 Nations & Territories will be competing in 46 Sports, participating in 339 Events. The first team to march in the parade of the athletes was Greece ( where the Modern Olympic Games were held first), followed by The Refugees Team. Sri Lanka was positioned somewhere in the middle. Women’s Captain Milka Gehani De Silva (Gymnastics) & Men’s Captain, Nuwan Chamara Dharmawardana ( Judo ) were joint Flag Bearers on behalf of the 09 Athletes in 07 Sports for the island nation. Chef De Mission, Gamini Jayasinghe together with Press Attache, Wing Commander (Retired) Chandana Liyanage also walked representing Team Sri Lanka. France (who are the hosts of the next time in 2024) were ahead of Host Nation Japan who were into the arena making up the rear as is the tradition. Hon. Namal Rajapakse – Minister of Youth & Sports, Suresh Subramaniam – President, National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka & Maxwell De Silva – Secretary General, National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka were also at the venue during the Opening Ceremony.

The area in & around the Opening Ceremony was almost under a near complete lockdown with transport limited to event related vehicles. The weather was bright & sunny with a steady breeze complementing the organisers, who seemed focussed & committed. Despite many people in Japan & around the world divided & concerned about the health related risks in hosting an event of this magnitude, the media & athletes seemed very eager & much enthusiastic about the chance to be in action, a once in a lifetime opportunity as well as an experience for them. The near 04 hours Opening Ceremony was themed in 02 parts. Moving Forward ( from the COVID 19 pandemic ) & United By Emotion ( to reaffirm the role of sports & the value of the Olympic Games ). The Flag of the Host Nation – the Land of the Rising Sun – Japan, was carried also by Essential Services workers in Tokyo, who supported & worked hard to control during the pandemic. They also represented those who worked in that much needed capacity all over the world. Faster – Higher – Stronger – Together, Celebrating Humanity in Sports, under a unique / rare circumstance, rising to the challenge of surviving the dangers & the effort to win the battles, are all new experiences for all stakeholders this time.

The health related guidelines are very strictly adhered to, with around 150,000 COVID 19 tests conducted upto now, using saliva samples daily. The only downside today was the logistics nightmare related to transport for the media. One case in particular was the state of the art Fuel Cell Bus being used to transport media personnel from the Media Transport Mall ( MTM ) located facing the sea & the Main Press Centre ( MPC ) functioning in the Tokyo Big Sight Conference Centre. The time waiting for the bus for the round trip was more than three times the time taken for the bus to travel the distance. The ability to maintain distance in that qued up crowd was near impossible, as I was also made to have that frustrating experience. It has to be also emphasised that the keen Organisers have introduced many high end technological innovations at the Main Press Centre. Nevertheless, all systems are not readily enjoyed by some media personnel.

Tommorrow, Team Sri Lanka will be involved in 10 M Air Rifle Shooting, Badminton Singles & Rhythmic Gymnastics.

Report by Haritha Perera    Photos By Thusith Wijedoru

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Trip to Tokyo Japan Facilitated by NOC Sri Lanka
Presentation Partners Hirdaramani & Brandix