Let the Games begin: Simplicity the theme at Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony
As the first Olympics held in the Covid-19 era, Tokyo 2020's opening ceremony on Friday (July 23) was marked by simplicity.
But one tradition was maintained – athletes from all over the world paraded into the stadium to represent their nations, for the first time their smiles hidden behind masks and most countries represented by both male and female flagbearers.
Amid the pandemic, the opening ceremony, normally a star-studded display teeming with celebrities, lacked the usual glitz with fewer than 1,000 people in attendance, strict social distancing rules and signs calling on spectators to “be quiet around the venue”.
Regardless, it marked a coming together of the world, with an audience of hundreds of millions around the globe and at various stages of the pandemic tuning in to watch the start of the greatest show in sport.
Team Singapore, who were led by flagbearers Loh Kean Yew and Yu Mengyu, were the 83rd nation to march in, with six athletes and six officials making up a 12-strong contingent.
Besides shuttler Loh and paddler Yu, the other Singapore athletes were gymnast Tan Sze En, shuttler Yeo Jia Min, fencer Amita Berthier and swimmer Quah Ting Wen.
The Republic will be represented by a total of 23 athletes across a record 12 sports at the Tokyo Games.
Said Loh: "It has always been my childhood dream to compete at the Olympic Games.
"Being here in Tokyo finally, after one year of postponement and the uncertainties, it feels very surreal. Even though the stadium is empty, being here fills me with plenty of excitement.
"I’m extremely honoured to carry Singapore flag tonight, and will do my very best at the Olympic Games."
Yu said it was an honour for her to be a co-flagbearer, adding that "it's a significant moment of her life".
The contingent numbers have been greatly reduced to about 20 per nation, with many athletes and officials flying in just before their competitions and due to leave shortly after to avoid infections. – REUTERS