Hundred and eighty one South African athletes were part of the ceremony to officially open the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. South Africa has been part of every Olympics since readmission in 1992, winning a medal at each and every event since then.
A lot is expected from the South African team, particularly in track and field where golden boy Wayde van Niekerk, and the likes of Akani Simbine, Anaso Jobodwane, and Gift Leotlela are expected to deliver fire works. Star Olympic swimmer, Chad le Clos, and national women’s hockey goalkeeper, Phumelela Mbande, were the two flag bearers for the country at the opening ceremony.
The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), announced on Thursday that Le Clos and Mbande would be Team SA’s two flag bearers at Friday’s opening ceremony. About 950 people including athletes, officials, and journalists attended the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games opening ceremony. The event was held without spectators for the very first time in the history of the Olympic Games.
The Olympics, which have a long history, have taken place every four years since 1896, except in 1916 due to World War One and between 1940 and 1944 due to World War Two.
Almost 11 100 athletes from 206 member countries of the International Olympic Committee will be competing in 41 different sporting codes at this year’s Games.
The athletes and dignitaries were welcomed to the games by International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach.
“Your majesty the emperor, dear athletes, dear prime minister, dear governor, dear president of the organising committee fellow Olympian Hashimoto Seiko, your excellencies dear Olympic friends welcome to the Olympic games Tokyo 2020,” said Bach.
Israeli Olympic team members killed by Palestinian gunmen at the 1972 Munich Olympics, were remembered during the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony with a moment of silence. It was the first time this has happened. The families of the 11 victims had long asked the International Olympic Committee to hold a minute of silence at a Games opening ceremony, but had until Friday been turned down.
Bach has described the 2020 Games as special.
“Today it’s a moment of hope. Yes, it is very different for all of us but let us cherish this moment. Finally we are all here together, the athletes of all 205 Olympic committees and the IOC refugee Olympic team living under one roof together in the Olympic village,” says Bach.
The 2020 Olympics also had to be postponed by a year due to the global novel coronavirus outbreak. Bach has thanked host country Japan for its patience during difficult circumstances.
“This is the message of solidarity, of peace and of resilience. This gives all of us hope for our further journey together, we can only be here together because of you our gracious hosts the Japanese people to whom we would like to express all our appreciation and respect. It was a difficult journey, it was an unprecedented challenge first reconstructing after the great Japan earthquake, then the coronavirus pandemic. Our gratitude and our admiration for you is even greater,” adds Bach.
The Games will run until the 8th of August.