Fireworks soared above Tokyo's new Olympic Stadium Friday as the delayed Summer Games finally held its opening ceremony — an event that culminates in lighting the Olympic cauldron.
Athletes marched in front of thousands of empty seats as only a sparse crowd was admitted due to COVID-19 restrictions. Those attending included first lady Jill Biden, who chatted with French President Emmanuel Macron.
A standout moment came midway through the event when Tonga's Pita Taufatofua once again vied to steal the show by marching into the stadium bare-chested (and oiled).
This year's ceremony, titled "United by Emotion," also brought a poignant moment of silence as organizers encouraged people to remember loved ones who were lost to the pandemic.
Despite the cloud cast by the coronavirus — from the one-year postponement to a ban on spectators — athletes showed their excitement finally to be at the Olympics, bouncing and bounding across the stadium floor to open the Games.
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Bill Chappell is a writer, reporter and editor, and a leader on NPR's flagship digital news team. He has frequently contributed to NPR's audio and social media platforms, including hosting dozens of live shows online.