Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony: What we know, how to watch

Tokyo 2020 officially gets underway on Friday with an opening ceremony that will look quite different from Games’ past.

As with all events at these Olympics, the opening ceremony will be held without fans. There will also be fewer athletes marching into the 68,000-seat Tokyo Olympic Stadium for what is typically a grand spectacle of music, dancing and all manner of theatrical performances.

Instead, organizers are promising a much more subdued affair that reflects the fact these Games are being held in the midst of a global pandemic.

Indeed, Tokyo was put under a state of emergency on July 12 due to surging coronavirus case counts, which hit a six-month high on Thursday.

Here’s everything you need to know about the opening ceremony as you kick off the Games from the comfort of your couch.

How to watch

Live coverage of the opening ceremony begins with pre- Friday at 6:30 a.m. ET on the CBC TV network, CBC Gem, the CBC Olympics app and CBC Sports’ Tokyo 2020 website. The ceremony begins at 7 a.m. ET and will re-air on CBC TV at 7 p.m. ET.

Find live streams, must-watch video highlights, breaking news and more in one perfect Olympic Games package. Following Team Canada has never been easier or more exciting.

More from Tokyo 2020

The live streams are being provided in several languages, including eight Indigenous languages and American Sign Language (ASL).

Who are Canada’s flag-bearers?

Canada is fielding a team of some 371 athletes, the largest contingent since 1984. But not all competitors will be in Japan for the start of the Games, as some athletes are arriving just in time for their events and will leave quickly after they are done.

After the International Olympic Committee (IOC) changed its guidelines to encourage countries to select a male and a female athlete to share flag-bearer duties, Team Canada will be led in the Parade of Nations by basketball player Miranda Ayim and rugby sevens player Nathan Hirayama.

Ayim, 33, will be competing in her third Olympics on a squad that is ranked fourth in the world and is a legitimate medal contender in Tokyo. Hirayama, also 33, is competing in his first Olympics. Though he has played for Canada’s rugby sevens team since age 18, the squad did not qualify for the Rio Games when the sport made its Olympic debut.

What to expect

Only a small number of IOC members, government officials and international VIPs will be in attendance at the opening ceremony, which organizers say will be a “much more sobering ceremony” than past Olympics.

Few details about the ceremony have been released, but the event hasn’t been without controversy. On Thursday, the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee fired the show’s director, Kentaro Kobayashi, over a Holocaust joke he made during a comedy show in 1998. And earlier in the week, a composer whose music is believed to be part of the show resigned after past bullying came to light.

WATCH | CBC Sports explains: The Olympic flame:

Do you know the history of the Olympic Flame? Did you know the Olympic Torch originated at the 1936 Berlin Games? Watch episode one of CBC Sports Explains, where we take you through the flame’s history, from the ancient Olympics to how it became the iconic symbol it is today. 4:50

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