There is always an air of mystery surrounding the Olympics Opening Ceremony and the one for the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, is no exception. The organizers love to keep the performances a secret in order to surprise the viewers. But here is what we know so far about the performers and other highlights of the 2021 Opening Ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics.
Attendees and Performers
The four-hour event will take place in Tokyo National Stadium, which will also host the Olympics track and field competition and some soccer matches. Unlike past years, there will be no spectators at the Opening Ceremony due to the coronavirus pandemic. Just 950 stakeholders — i.e. invited guests, like Dr. Jill Biden — will be in attendance, according to The Daily Beast, and athletes and flagbearers will be required to wear masks.
The performances have so far been kept under wraps. “Today” anchor and NBC’ Opening Ceremony host Savannah Guthrie told USA Today that she has been “sworn to secrecy” about the performance lineup.
“We’ve had meetings, but it’s mostly been in generalities,” said Guthrie. “It hasn’t been about what is the show Tokyo is going to put on, and even when they do (discuss it), I’m told I’ve been sworn to secrecy. We’re hoping that there will still be that energy and excitement, but of course it will be different, just like everything post-pandemic has changed. But they still plan to put on a really big, beautiful, patriotic show. … We’re just hoping that what we broadcast will be really exciting for people and get them in the right space for the games to begin.”
She also said NBC’s rebroadcast of the Opening Ceremony on Friday night will offer a more “packaged, condensed, and polished” version of the Opening Ceremony so that people at home “have the option to watch it live in the morning or order pizza and watch it Friday night.”
We will update this space as performers are announced.
UPDATE: The Japanese national anthem was performed by MISIA, a popular Japanese singer, songwriter and producer.
Arisua Tsubata, a boxer and nurse who treated coronavirus patients, kicked off the Opening Peremony presiding over a dance performance by a dance troupe.
Later there was a percussion performance and famous Japanese tap dancer Kazunori Kumagai performed.
During the parade of nations, the flag bearers for the United States were basketball player Sue Bird and baseball player Eddy Alvares.
In addition to artistic performances, the Opening Ceremony will feature the same traditions as in past years — a parade of nations led by Greece (home of the first Olympics) and ended with the host country, Japan; the playing of Japan’s national anthem because it is the host country; a symbolic releasing of doves since real doves have not been released since several of them were killed during the 1988 Seoul Opening Ceremony when the Olympic cauldron was lit; Emperor Naruhito officially opening the Games, the taking of the Olympic oath by athletes, coaches, and officials, and then several performances.
“The spectacle of the opening ceremony is kind of self-sustaining, and it’s so beautiful and it’s so epic and so colorful that I think we’re gonna have a great show no matter what,” Guthrie told USA Today, adding that she prepared for the Olympics “like an athlete.”
“There are 206 countries represented, so there are a lot of facts to memorize … I really do think it’s going to be meaningful, the world all getting together. … People want to feel good and they want to root for the home team and they want to be inspired and they want to watch that moment when someone’s life changes before your eyes. So I’m excited, and I think people are going to really catch the fever,” said Guthrie.
The 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics take place from Friday, July 23 until the Closing Ceremony on Sunday, August 8.