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Review from the Telegrah, in case anyone can't read cos of paywall

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/olympics/2021/07/23/tokyo-olympics-opening-ceremony-live-2020-news-2021/

Imagine there’s no Covid. There was no way anyone watching Friday night’s Opening Ceremony at Tokyo 2020 could. Reminders were everywhere on a truly bizarre and ultimately rather poignant evening in Japan’s capital.

From the deserted stands in Tokyo’s 60,000 seat National stadium - stands which are sadly destined to remain empty for the next fortnight - to the meagre delegations that attended the athletes’ parade, to the pockets of protesters camped outside the stadium shouting “Cancel the Olympics”.

By the time a collection of international popstars delivered a recorded cover of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s famous anthem to peace, it was difficult to imagine much beyond the fact that these next two weeks are going to be trying for all concerned.

If the job of an opening ceremony is to reflect the spirit of the moment then this one succeeded. It was rather beautiful in its own way. Simple. It did not try to match the power or scale of Beijing 2008, when thousands of drummers banged the Games open with military precision. Or the charm or originality of London 2012 with its Danny Boyle-inspired history of Britain that had the rest of the world bemused and amused in equal measure - not least when Her Majesty was pushed out of a helicopter by James Bond. This ceremony was not a carnival of colour and samba beats like Rio de Janeiro five years ago. It was a reflection of the times we live in.

An Olympics dogged by controversy, delayed by 12 months, but still taking place in the grip of a global pandemic, opened with minimal fanfare, certainly by the standards of these mega-events. This must have been the first Olympic opening ceremony where volunteers outnumbered attendees. Just 900 stakeholders and VIPs, and 3500 members of the media were in the stands.

Roughly the same as the number of athletes, in fact. With most of them terrified of catching Covid-19 or being identified as ‘close contacts’ of those who do - a fate which has already left six Team GB athletes confined to quarters for an indefinite length of time - not many were prepared to take the risk of leaving the relative safety of the Olympic Village.

Just 23 of Britain’s 376-strong delegation showed up, although even with so few attending, the reliably interminable athletes’ parade lasted almost 2hrs. 

It is a desperately sad state of affairs for a country which hosted such a magnificent Rugby World Cup 20 months ago, and a people who could not have been more welcoming or excited about the prospect of hosting the Greatest Show on Earth.

There were moments of hope, of levity; the Argentinean delegation bouncing around excitedly, reminding us that this is the biggest moment of these athletes’ lives as sportspeople and they are right to grab it with both hands. Pita Taufatofua, the Tongan taekwondo practitioner and skier, who marched shirtless five years ago and was back with more baby oil than ever. Britain’s Moe Sbihi, a 6ft8in rower, towering over his fellow flagbearer, 5ft2in sailor Hannah Mills. The blue smurf-like figures doing their pictograms of the different Olympic sports was fun. And the ‘drone globe’ -  1,824 drones flying in unison above the stadium in the shape of the Earth - was inspired. 

But mostly it was rather sad. Japanese police had erected a perimeter around the stadium to keep spectators away. Thousands turned up anyway, waiting patiently outside without anything to watch. They were interspersed with pockets of protesters. Not many but enough to be heard every time there was a silence in proceedings inside the stadium - such as for the moment of remembrance for loved ones no longer with us. 

It was a poignant reminder that those who want these Games to take place cannot get in, and those who do not cannot stop it. Nothing can stop this now. The hope is that it does not run out of control and that for the next two weeks the world’s best athletes, from Simone Biles to Adam Peaty to Naomi Osaka - the face of the Games ,who ultimately lit the cauldron at close to midnight local time - will offer moments of genius and wonder and joy and make us forget. Imagine there’s no covid? I wonder if we can. Let the Games commence.

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That's an interesting thing you raise Anthony - we've seen FIFA essentially have their own house style of ceremonies, to the extent that even the Russians couldn't make anything good out of it - are the IOC doing the same? Since Tommy took over fully, are we effectively seeing ceremonies produced by the IOC to show off and celebrate the IOC that just happen to be in the host city, rather than produced by the host city to show themselves off that just happen to celebrate the Olympics too?

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26 minutes ago, olympiaki-agones said:

Beijing 2022 and Paris 2024 must prepare something 'second to none' in order to wipe from our memories what Tokyo 2020 inserted in our minds with this sort of ceremony. 

China will do a bombastic show for sure, just to dab at Japan and add more salt to the wound. :angry:

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3 minutes ago, Ikarus360 said:

China will do a bombastic show for sure, just to dab at Japan and add more salt to the wound. :angry:

I trust Zhang Yimou will be smart and emotional intelligent enough to give us a poignant and classy ceremony that doesn't look so cheap and basic like Tokyo's, that acknowledges the pandemic and the sufferings of the last two years. He is a film director after all and creating emotional drama is his thing.

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1 minute ago, kevzz said:

I trust Zhang Yimou will be smart and emotional intelligent enough to give us a poignant and classy ceremony that doesn't look so cheap and basic like Tokyo's, that acknowledges the pandemic and the sufferings of the last two years. He is a film director after all and creating emotional drama is his thing.

Did you saw the show they did some weeks to celebrate the CCP anniversary? A complete self masturbatory extravaganza. They only care for themselves as it was shown last year when they did all those celebrations for ""defeating"" covid when it was still happening. China has always despised Japan and is currently going all out on screwing up the west.

They might do a good show but I could care less for it and will wait for Paris 2024. You subverted the Olympics I was waiting eagerly for so long? I'll subvert yours.

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I honestly was expecting to see a decent drone display forming the Olympic rings above Tokyo Metropolitan Area and wander around till reaching the Olympic Village, so the athletes who didn't attend the ceremony could have a chunk of it as home delivery. And the pictogrammes also performed by drones. 

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6 minutes ago, baron-pierreIV said:

I think orig estimate was $1.5 bil. 

That is a bit pricey, but stadiums are very expensive anyway. The one year postponement probably costs even more.

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6 minutes ago, FYI said:

That is a bit pricey, but stadiums are very expensive anyway. The one year postponement probably costs even more.

Oh, the one-year delay costs are probably incalculable and irrecoverable.  Fuggedabout the small inns & restaurants and Air B&Bs who invested in upgrades for guests.  The IOC should really shrink the Games' size.  If they haven't learned their lesson by now, they never will.  

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3 minutes ago, FYI said:

That is a bit pricey, but stadiums are very expensive anyway. The one year postponement probably costs even more

This was the worst expense ever! –Above all, due to the boring design – Fortunately, Tokyo is a huge city where stadia could be re-utilised by the crowds (mobs, when tax payers have realised how expensive were the Olympics). 

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1 hour ago, yoshi said:

... Since Tommy took over fully, are we effectively seeing ceremonies produced by the IOC to show off and celebrate the IOC that just happen to be in the host city, rather than produced by the host city to show themselves off that just happen to celebrate the Olympics too?

Given that the last Summer ceremonies were Rio's which very definitely showed off the host city and nation, I'd say it's way too early to assume that Bach's IOC is imposing more of a generic feel except for the introduction of extra protocol elements, which will, I suspect, feel more intrusive in future if the cultural presentations return to something like normal.

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Good 
Naomi

imagine

drones

moment silence for Munich 72’

 

bad

too many ad breaks causing the channel seven coverage to be delayed.

parade of nations too long 

commentators talking too much through the OC

Speeches were too long 

performances on a whole were boring

too many digital pre recorded aspects

no fake crowd sound 

athletes should’ve gone into the stands

no cross between village and OC considering not too many athletes could attend

Double standards. Some performers weren’t wearing masks.

Fireworks show was quite disappointing 

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I don’t know how I feel having watched that .  I get the feeling Balich himself didn’t really believe in it and found it hard work . I think it was the product of poor flakey Japanese organisers . Of course the narrative was going to be impacted by COVID but I also feel that he structure they set up for the ceremony was flawed . It seems like the advertising company they put in charge was so out of touch on how to put together a ceremony . 
 

There were moments where it was almost like the Japanese character was itching to get out (the faces on the performers in the rings segment for example) , but they were shut back in their depressive boxes quick smart . 
 

Highlights were probably the opening video , the rings segment and the concept and design of the cauldron lighting . 
 

Not so great , Naomi Osaka who came across as a too cool for school teenage girl complete with hair fiddling . It’s almost like you could hear who saying this was so embarrassing . Contrast to the Uber emotional Midori Ito . Also wtf was up with the guy who was constantly getting in camera shot whilst guarding the torch like it was his only child . The mask inconsistency was odd too I thought . I also pose the question , yes we are still in a COVID world, but i felt like there was a distinct lack of a welcome segment . 
 

All in all I’m not about to take a deep paddle like some others are on here , I’m not angry , and I admire many of the sensibilities the production showed . I do think they misread the crowd though . 

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15 hours ago, mattygs said:

I don’t know how I feel having watched that .  I get the feeling Balich himself didn’t really believe in it and found it hard work . I think it was the product of poor flakey Japanese organisers . Of course the narrative was going to be impacted by COVID but I also feel that he structure they set up for the ceremony was flawed . It seems like the advertising company they put in charge was so out of touch on how to put together a ceremony . 
 

There were moments where it was almost like the Japanese character was itching to get out (the faces on the performers in the rings segment for example) , but they were shut back in their depressive boxes quick smart . 
 

Highlights were probably the opening video , the rings segment and the concept and design of the cauldron lighting . 
 

Not so great , Naomi Osaka who came across as a too cool for school teenage girl complete with hair fiddling . It’s almost like you could hear who saying this was so embarrassing . Contrast to the Uber emotional Midori Ito . Also wtf was up with the guy who was constantly getting in camera shot whilst guarding the torch like it was his only child . The mask inconsistency was odd too I thought . I also pose the question , yes we are still in a COVID world, but i felt like there was a distinct lack of a welcome segment . 
 

All in all I’m not about to take a deep paddle like some others are on here , I’m not angry , and I admire many of the sensibilities the production showed . I do think they misread the crowd though . 

My understanding is Balich was just an advisor on the project. His social media definitely didn't convey any sort of excitement for the opening. I feel like a lot of the team lost all hope on it.  Do we know which company was lead producer on it?

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