The Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony is about to begin, 364 days behind the original schedule and with a very different feel than what was originally intended before the pandemic changed everything.
The Olympic Stadium is largely empty. The Tokyo 2020 souvenir store outside the front gates is closed. But that doesn’t mean fans have stayed away. Hundreds of fans gathered outside the gates and along the sidewalks of closed streets, waving at any person with an Olympic credential or any vehicle that went by with an Olympic logo.
Track and field events will be held in the stadium later in these games. The track itself is covered by a large black tarp for the opening ceremony and the infield is covered with a white tarp, one where graphics will be displayed over the course of the evening.
Some dignitaries and invited guests will be in the stadium seats, including U.S. first lady Jill Biden. Many remaining seats are being filled by placards.
Six Polish swimmers have returned home before the Olympics even started, their dreams scuttled by the country mistakenly sending too many athletes to Tokyo.
Only 17 swimmers from Poland qualified for the Tokyo Games. The country’s swimming federation put 23 athletes on the plane to Japan, sparking outrage among those who were denied a chance to compete.
Two-time Olympian Alicja Tchorz was among those sent home. She griped on social media about all the sacrifices she had made to earn another trip to the Summer Games, only for it to result “in a total flop.”
The team sent out a statement demanding the resignation of Polish Swimming Federation president Paweł Słomiński. He issued his own statement expressing “regret, sadness and bitterness” about the athletes’ situation.
Słomiński said there was confusion over the qualifying rules and he was merely trying to “allow as many players and coaches as possible to take part” in the Olympics.