Tokyo 2021, the Olympic torch is on. The post-pandemic Games begin, from the joy of the Azzurri to the refugee delegation

The flashlight turns on. The Olympic fire finally flares up in the Tokyo National Stadium: with the Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka as the last torchbearer, the Games have officially begun. Colors and faces from all over the world, with the history and tradition of Japan as a backdrop. 206 delegations called to present themselves in the long, wonderful and as never expected opening ceremony of the Olympics. Thousands of drones they take off, willing to form the planet with its continents. Finally, after months of doubts, controversies and fear caused by the pandemic that has hit us all, i Tokyo Games take off. The empty stadium and the masks on the faces show from the first images that this will not be an edition like the previous ones. But despite this, there is no shortage of performances, folklore and the typical curiosities of every inaugural ceremony.

The pandemic – An athlete who runs alone, on a treadmill, in the middle of the national stadium. This is the first strong and already memorable image with which the series of performances of the ceremony begins. And the message: “Separate but not alone”. Then marathon runners and sportsmen of the various disciplines arrive, all spaced apart, with only beams of light to unite them. A metaphor for the very hard year and a half that the whole world has experienced, from the lockdown to the everyday restrictions. Covid has really put the Tokyo Games in difficulty, but the collective effort of each nation not only in sport has allowed the Olympics (already postponed for a year) to prevail against the pandemic.

Italian delegation by Armani – The most awaited part of the inaugural ceremony was certainly that of the parade of delegations. All dressed, colored and of different numbers, from the few units of the Iraqi one to the 400 or more athletes of China. The catwalk followed the Japanese alphabetical order, and Team Italia marched for 22nd with a group of more than 300 athletes. To carry the tricolor high Jessica Rossi ed Elia Viviani, young promises of volleyball shooting and track cycling respectively. The Azzurri were very excited and cheering, immediately presenting themselves as one of the liveliest delegations of the show: their “ceremony dress” was a very minimal uniform, made by Armani: white, with the symbol of the Japanese flag colored green, white and red in the center of the bust.

Refugees – Among the delegations that marched, the refugees, who came second after Greece, aroused much attention and curiosity. They arrived in Tokyo for the second time in their history, without anthem or flag. Their team, called EOR (Olympic Refugee Team), is made up of 11 women and 18 men who come from 11 countries of origin and 13 host states that have granted them refugee status. There was also curiosity around the Russian delegation, which paraded with a different name and flag: at the Tokyo Games it will be called ROC, that is to say Russian Olympic Committe, and may not use or listen to national anthem and cloth. This is because the nation of Russia (and not the athletes) was sanctioned with exclusion from sports competitions until 2022 following the huge case of doping that overwhelmed Russian sportsmen between 2018 and 2020.

The commemorations – The Tokyo Games ceremony was also a moment of recollection and commemoration. All the authorities present in the stands observed a minute of silence to remember all the victims of Covid, and artists and dancers staged performances so as not to forget what 2020 and 2021 have meant for the whole world. The memory went not only to the present, but also to the past, with the commemoration of the Israeli athletes who lost their lives in the Olympic edition of Munich in 1972 following the massacre caused by a Palestinian terrorist group.


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