Let the Games Begin! 

By Christy Sandmaier and Gina Pongetti Angeletti

“Finally, we are all here together.”

The words of IOC President Thomas Bach moved us all as the emotion,  pageantry, reflection and celebration of the Opening Ceremony officially began the 2020 Olympic Games. We watched in awe as the athletes marched into the stadium. Smiles and tears apparent under masks, their eyes sparkling at the magic knowing it was finally real. This was their Olympic moment and their Olympic dream coming true. The moment sport united us and brought the world together – a true community celebrating in one place and in one time.

The ceremony included scenes depicting ancient Japan, celebrating artisans that built the country with their own hands, and tonight, building the iconic Olympic rings before our own eyes. And in a moment that caught our collective breathe, 1800 drones took to the air to form a rotating globe in the sky symbolizing that we are truly one. 

So let’s remember as the Olympic flag has been raised, the torch has been lit (tennis star Naomi Osaka was given the honor) – always emotional enduring symbols etched in our minds – and as the competition begins, the storylines will start to write themselves and gold, silver and bronze will be awarded. Today, everyone is standing together – faster, higher and stronger.


Go Time!

Top 10 Takeaways As the Games Begin

  1. The Games Begin! See here for the complete schedule and links to the livestreams!
  2. Team USA gymnasts did not attend the ceremonies. Their competition begins Saturday in Japan. But we loved watching their own celebration, complete with flag-bearer Sam Mikulak leading the way!

    We also watched as Olympians from past Games, including our dear friend Kathy Johnson Clarke taking a stroll down memory lane as the ceremony took place.

3.  #UnitedByEmotion – The official hashtag of the Opening Ceremony will be a theme throughout the Games!

4. The Numbers:

  • 41 Sports, 51 Different Disciplines
  • For gymnastics, both men’s and women’s have 12 teams with four people each (48). There are 50 additional individuals who have qualified, so 98 total men will be competing and can officially call themselves 2020 Olympians tomorrow! Click Here for the rosters!
  • 3.2 Billion people watched the 2016 Summer Olympics. Gymnastics is the most watched and has been for six consecutive Games since 1996. NBC is expecting over 4 billion individuals to tune in to watch across their platforms!
  1. Flag Bearer – Oksana Chusovitina was originally selected to bear the flag of her country, Uzbekinstan. She was noticeably absent at the Opening Ceremonies today, telling Tass media that she was offended that they offered it to her and then took it away. As this is her eighth (and final) Olympics, she was excited to represent her country. We’re sure we’ll hear more in the coming days if she stops in the Mixed Zone!
  2. What We’re Hearing – There is still mainstream news reporting about canceling the Games and emotions arranging from concern to outrage from citizens. Until today, at the Opening Ceremony, we have not seen a single demonstration. Not even a sign. Tonight, outside of Olympic Stadium, when the music and presentations were quieter, you could hear chanting and it was reported by NBC there was a small protest. The stands were made up of very colorful patterns to give the image that there were close to the 70,000 people that were supposed to be there. Media were allowed in to take in the magic. As usual in any Games, some athletes chose not to participate due to competition timing or simply to rest. The IOC did an amazing job to ensure everything seemed as ‘normal’ as possible for those involved, and for the media. To get the world hyped about the start of something great!
  3. New Skills! – New skills have been submitted for Tokyo 2020 and we can’t wait for their debut – keep your eyes on Simone Biles, Jade Carey, Samir Aid Said, and Brody Malone just to name a few! (Click here for our feature!) The rules for skills include performing without major deduction at a FIG approved meet. The skill can be performed in Qualifications or Finals. If two people perform the same new skill at the same meet, the element will both of their names. Because Qualifications obviously happen before Finals, whomever performs tomorrow successfully is in print! 
  4. Venturing Out – The rules of Japan are that anyone in the country cannot venture out within the first 14 days.  The Olympics allows special permission, but to be taken very wisely. Food is delivered to the hotel, or within a pick-up fashion no more than minutes away from the hotel. There are designated areas to stay and walk when passing by citizens and normal life here in Tokyo. All taxis and public transportation must be official vehicles for tracking purposes. Our transportation certificates are all numbered and collected. They are doing an incredible job at making us feel safe, and ensuring the citizens of Japan that the interaction is strictly prohibited unless Olympic related!
  5. Simone Biles has made gymnastics mainstream. She has made it through the pop-culture barrier in conversations including female empowerment and strength. She has notably risen to the top of society’s awe in an age where Black Lives Matter became a point of passion for many. She owns a gym where six Black athletes represented at the U.S. National Championships. She has her own Emoji on Twitter – the goat in a leotard, to symbolize that she truly is the Greatest of All Times (G.O.A.T.)

10. Saturday In Japan (Friday in the States) Let’s Gooooo!!!! The stadium will be full of energy and packed with excitement and relief that we are finally here. King Kohei will compete on his own turf, which he has waited years for. The U.S. men will begin their competition to finals, to attempt to break the podium barrier for the first time since 2008. Many athletes will step on to the floor one last time – one more routine – celebrating their journey. Whatever the outcome, we wish a safe and memory-filled meet for all! Let’s do this!

Photos by NBC Olympics

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