Japan welcomed the world to the Olympic Games on Friday night. But few people were there to witness the celebration.
The opening ceremony in Tokyo included some memorable moments, perhaps none more so than when Naomi Osaka, one of the most famous athletes in the world and a gold medal contender, lighted the Olympic cauldron.
Yet with no fans in the stands because of coronavirus restrictions, the incongruous nature of these Games was also on full display. The stadium was eerily quiet at times, and parading athletes simply waved at the empty seats where their supporters should have been.
Here’s a look at what happened, from New York Times photographers who were, in fact, inside the Olympic Stadium.
Performers at the opening ceremony.
Athletes paraded in, waving at empty seats.
The United States Olympic team behind its flag bearers, the basketball player Sue Bird and the baseball player Eddy Alvarez.
The attendance figure for the opening ceremony announced by the Olympic organizers summed up the state of these Games: In total, 10,400 people filled a stadium designed for 68,000.
There was a brief nod to ancient Japanese culture: a Kabuki theater excerpt intended to dispel negative energy.
The torch relay ended with the tennis star Naomi Osaka lighting the Olympic cauldron.