Japan has finally kicked off the Covid-delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics with a symbolic show of hope and tenacity in the face of adversity at its Opening Ceremony.
There were just 950 VIPs and world leaders inside the 68,000-seat main arena in Tokyo to watch the display of light and colour on Friday night amid rising case totals in the country which forced organisers to ban crowds.
Sombre and socially-distanced – gone were the tightly-packed dance routines that traditionally mark opening ceremonies as directors instead made the best use of projection technology to add colour and pageantry.
A large firework display did add a burst of sound to what was otherwise an eerily quiet event, after organisers opted against playing artificial crowd noises in the arena.
Plagued by the pandemic, scandals among officials, and strongly divided opinions among locals, Japan will hope the touching spectacle will help coalesce positive feeling around the £13billion sporting extravaganza.
Earlier in the day hundreds of sports fans had gathered outside the main Olympic arena in Tokyo on Friday certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves, some dressed in traditional Japanese regalia while others posed for photos in front of the Olympics’ famous rings.
Supporters were also treated to a fly-past by the Blue Impact military display team, whose jets streaked through the sky above the stadium trailing coloured smoke.