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Japan’s Emperor Naruhito declares the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics open

<i>Maddie Meyer/Getty Images</i><br/>Naomi Osaka gestures after lighting the Olympic cauldron during the opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium.
Getty Images
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Naomi Osaka gestures after lighting the Olympic cauldron during the opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium.

TOKYO (AP) — At long last, the Tokyo Olympics have officially been declared open by Japan’s Emperor Naruhito.

The games, delayed for a year by the pandemic, have had competition taking place since earlier in the week, but are not considered officially having started until the opening ceremony.

Seiko Hashimoto is the president of the Tokyo Organizing Committee and told the athletes, “I greet you all from the bottom of my heart.” She spoke of what Japan has been through during the planning for the Olympics, including the recovery from a devastating earthquake and the ongoing fight with the pandemic.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach also spoke, saying the Olympics are again showing the “unifying power of sport.”

Bach began his remarks by telling those in the stadium, “Today is a moment of hope. Yes, it is very different from what all of us had imagined. But let us cherish this moment. Finally, we are all here together.”

After Bach spoke and the Emperor made his declaration, the Olympic flag was carried into the stadium, with pandemic frontline workers being honored in that portion of the ceremony. The workers were from Tokyo, but represented all those who have been on the front lines globally.

From there, a choir of Japanese students sang as a prequel to the traditional release of doves, the Olympic gesture to express a desire for world peace.

Associated Press

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