Described as a "truthful, honest ceremony" by Marco Balich, the creative mastermind and the producer credited with some of the world's biggest multi-sport events, the Tokyo Olympics 2020 Opening Ceremony will break away from tradition.
Held in a virtually empty stadium, the event will feature welcome speeches, the hoisting of the flags, the parade of athletes, artistic performances, and much more. Who will be performing at the Tokyo Olympics 2020 Opening Ceremony?
The Tokyo Olympics 2020 Opening Ceremony will be unlike previous years' events.
Attended by around 950 VIP guests (including the First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden), the Tokyo Olympics 2020 Opening Ceremony is expected to begin with a speech by Emperor Naruhito. Emperor Naruhito will likely attend the ceremony without the imperial family.
To minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19, the Tokyo Olympics 2020 Opening Ceremony will operate with strict guidelines — which might also be reflected in the number of athletes in attendance.
Veteran basketball player Sue Bird and pro baseball player Eddy Alvarez have been appointed as the joint flag bearers for the U.S. Olympic team. According to USA Today, 230 athletes, around 37 percent of the U.S. delegation, are expected to attend the parade of athletes.
Kara Eaker, a women's gymnastics alternate, tested positive for COVID-19 only recently. Katie Lou Samuelson, a member of the U.S. Olympic 3x3 women's basketball team, announced her withdrawal from the competition on July 19, 2021. Coco Gauff, a tennis player, pulled out on July 18, 2021, due to a positive COVID-19 test.
Others may decide to avoid attending the parade of athletes, an awe-inspiring part of the ceremony which sees athletes from competing countries march through the stadium. The organizers have taken additional steps to protect the safety of the athletes, however.
"There will be several hundred marshals to guide the athletes for the parade," Marco Balich said. "The opening ceremony, in a way, is going to be unique and focus only on the athletes."
Details about the artistic performances are being kept firmly under cover.
Kentarō Kobayashi, the director of the Tokyo Olympics 2020 Opening Ceremony, and Keigo Oyamada (aka Cornelius), the composer, faced controversy less than one week before the event. Kentarō was dismissed on Thursday, July 22, 2021, while Keigo resigned on Monday, July 19, 2021.
Kentarō, a comedian best known outside of Japan for his "The Japanese Tradition" videos, came under scrutiny after it was revealed that he used a Holocaust joke in one of his old sets. Keigo admitted to bullying disabled classmates in two interviews dating back to 1994 and 1995.
His music will no longer be used. The revelation reportedly left organizers scrambling for a last-minute replacement, so it will be interesting to see how it shakes out.
Details about the artistic performances still on the schedule have yet to be shared with the public. As Marco told Reuters, the event will spotlight the culture and tradition of the host country, Japan.
"It will be a much more sobering ceremony," Marco said. "Nevertheless, with beautiful Japanese aesthetics. Very Japanese but also in sync with the sentiment of today, the reality."
Tokyo Olympics 2020 Opening Ceremony will be held on Friday, July 23, at 8 p.m. JST.
NBC will broadcast the ceremony live, starting from 7 a.m. EST. The channel will also re-air the event at 7:30 p.m. EST. The program will be hosted by Today host Savannah Guthrie and legendary sportscaster Mike Tirico.
NBC Olympics Broadcasters Lewis Johnson and Michele Tafoya will serve as the reporters for the Tokyo Olympics 2020 Opening Ceremony. Dwayne Johnson, Leslie Odom Jr., and Uma Thurman are just some of the star contributors.