July 23 Tokyo 2020 Olympics news and results

By Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Aditi Sangal, John Sinnott, Matias Grez, Melissa Mahtani and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 0417 GMT (1217 HKT) July 24, 2021
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9:18 a.m. ET, July 23, 2021

Shirtless Olympian Pita Taufatofua is back as Tonga's flag-bearer

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Pita Taufatofua, right, of Team Tonga carries the flag with Malia Paseka as they lead their team out during the Opening Ceremony.
Pita Taufatofua, right, of Team Tonga carries the flag with Malia Paseka as they lead their team out during the Opening Ceremony. Hannah McKay/Pool/Getty Images

He's back, in all his oiled shirtless glory — Pita Taufatofua, the flag-bearer for Tonga at the Tokyo Olympics, once again walked out and turned up the heat at the Games.

Taufatofua first caught everyone's attention at the 2016 Rio Olympics wearing traditional Tongan dress and covered in coconut oil. He also competed at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in 2018, representing Tonga in cross-country skiing (And yes, he appeared shirtless at that Opening Ceremony, too).

This year, however, it seems that Taufatofua has a bit of competition when it comes to baring his chest: Rillio Rio Rii, a Vanuatu flag-bearer, also came out shirtless and covered in oil as well.

Eyes and fire emojis all around.

9:01 a.m. ET, July 23, 2021

Fireworks light up the Tokyo 2020 stadium to mark Opening Ceremony 

The Tokyo 2020 stadium was lit up by fireworks as the Games officially got underway with the Opening Ceremony.

This was the view from outside the stadium.

Fireworks light up the sky over the Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony.
Fireworks light up the sky over the Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony. Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty Images

The $1.5 billion stadium built for the 2020 Olympics can hold nearly 70,000 people, but athletes from around the world were parading at the opening ceremony in a near-empty venue.

Only about 950 VIPs will take part in the event, Tokyo 2020 spokesperson Hidemasa Nakamura told CNN. The total will include around 800 foreign guests and 150 from Japan, CNN affiliate TV Asahi reported.

This is because Covid-19 cases continue to rise in Japan, which led to a ban on spectators at all events at Tokyo venues.

8:56 a.m. ET, July 23, 2021

Georgia's Nino Salukvadze makes Olympics history

Nino Salukvadze of Georgia competes during the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games.
Nino Salukvadze of Georgia competes during the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games. Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

For Georgian sports shooter Nino Salukvadze, today is a familiar feeling.

The 52-year-old is appearing in her ninth Olympic Games this summer in Tokyo, becoming the first female athlete in history to do so.

Salukvadze made her Olympic debut at the 1988 Games in Seoul for the Soviet Union, winning a gold medal in the women's 25-metre sporting pistol competition and silver in the women's 10-metre air pistol competition.

Flag bearers Nino Salukvadze, right, and Lasha Talakhadze of Team Georgia lead their team out during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on July 23.
Flag bearers Nino Salukvadze, right, and Lasha Talakhadze of Team Georgia lead their team out during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on July 23. Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

She has appeared in every Olympic Games since, winning a bronze medal in 2008 in Beijing competing for Georgia.

Over her storied shooting career, she has won 86 medals.

And ahead of her record-breaking appearance, Salukvadze was given the honor of being one of Georgia's flag bearers for the Opening Ceremony.

9:11 a.m. ET, July 23, 2021

This 12-year-old Syrian table tennis player is the youngest athlete competing at Tokyo 2020

Syria's flag bearers Hend Zaza, left, and Ahmad Saber Hamcho are seen during the Opening Ceremony.
Syria's flag bearers Hend Zaza, left, and Ahmad Saber Hamcho are seen during the Opening Ceremony. Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images

Hend Zaza, the 12-year-old Syrian table tennis player, entered the stadium alongside the team from Syria.

Zaza is the youngest athlete to compete at this year's competition.

Ranked 155th in the world, she defeated Lebanon's Mariana Sahakian 4-3 in the women's final in Amman. Sahakian was 42 years old, meaning there was a 31-year age gap between the two.

The youngest documented Olympic medalist was Greek gymnast Dimitrios Loundras, who won bronze in the team parallel bars at the first modern Games in Athens in 1896, aged 10 years, 218 days, according to figures from Olympic.org.

CNN's Ben Morse contributed reporting to this post.

8:25 a.m. ET, July 23, 2021

French President Emmanuel Macron is at the Opening Ceremony

French President Emmanuel Macron is seen during the Opening Ceremony. Dylan Martinez/Pool/Getty Images
French President Emmanuel Macron is seen during the Opening Ceremony. Dylan Martinez/Pool/Getty Images

French President Emmanuel Macron, whose country will host the next Summer Games in 2024, is at the Opening Ceremony.

Apart from English, all announcements at the ceremony are being made in Japanese and French to denote the languages of the current country hosting the Olympics and the next country to do so.

Macron was also seen interacting with the US first lady Jill Biden prior to the ceremony.

 U.S. First Lady, Jill Biden talks with French President Emmanuel Macron ahead of the Opening Ceremony.
U.S. First Lady, Jill Biden talks with French President Emmanuel Macron ahead of the Opening Ceremony. Dylan Martinez/Pool/Getty Images

8:03 a.m. ET, July 23, 2021

Mohamed Sbihi makes history as Team GB's flag bearer

Great Britain's Mohamed Sbihi is pictured in Reading, England, on June 9.
Great Britain's Mohamed Sbihi is pictured in Reading, England, on June 9. John Walton/PA Images/Getty Images

Rower Mohamed Sbihi made history during Friday's opening ceremony as Team Great Britain's first Muslim flag bearer.

Sbihi is a two-time Olympic medalist, including gold in the coxless four at Rio 2016, and says he hopes he can inspire the next generation of athletes.

“To know I’m the first person of Muslim faith to have this role and duty is a very proud moment,” Sbihi told the Independent.
“We need more representation and hopefully this starts that process of getting young Muslim kids involved in all types of sport.
“I was in London and Rio to see Mo Farah win his medals as a refugee who came to the country very young and as a practising Muslim. That was inspiring."

Flag bearers Hannah Mills and Mohamed Sbihi of Team Great Britain lead their team out during the Opening Ceremony.
Flag bearers Hannah Mills and Mohamed Sbihi of Team Great Britain lead their team out during the Opening Ceremony. Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Sailor Hannah Mills is the other flag bearer for Team GB ahead of her attempt to defend the title she won in Rio five years ago.

8:00 a.m. ET, July 23, 2021

Social distancing is a hit or miss among athletes as they parade at the Opening Ceremony

Team United Arab Emirates is seen during the Opening Ceremony.
Team United Arab Emirates is seen during the Opening Ceremony. Maja Hitij/Getty Images

As athletes from different countries parade at the Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony, some contingents are practicing social distancing while others are not. Ukraine and UAE's representing athletes walked at distance from each other, while Argentina came dancing and cheering together on the floor.

Team Argentina parades during the Opening Ceremony.
Team Argentina parades during the Opening Ceremony. Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Many athletes are recording and taking pictures on their phones as they walk.

7:45 a.m. ET, July 23, 2021

Protesters take to the streets ahead of Opening Ceremony

People protest ahead of the Opening Ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics on July 23, in Tokyo, Japan.
People protest ahead of the Opening Ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics on July 23, in Tokyo, Japan. David Mareuil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Ahead of the opening ceremony's start, protesters took to the streets of Tokyo to voice their opposition to the staging of the Olympics in Japan.

Positive Covid-19 cases are on the rise in Japan and that has ensured many events will take place without spectators in attendance.

Protesters marched down some of the capital city's busiest streets with banners to make their feelings known about the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 organizers' decision to host the Games given the pandemic.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics has already been delayed by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

7:41 a.m. ET, July 23, 2021

The Olympics stadium looks full of people, but it isn't. Here's how.

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Fireworks go off above the sparsely filled Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony.
Fireworks go off above the sparsely filled Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony. Kyodo News/Getty Images

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who is in Tokyo, described the atmosphere inside the stadium at the Olympics Opening Ceremony as "so quiet."

While it looks like there are people in all of the seats filling up the stadium, there are not. It's "just seat coverings in different colors to make it look like there's people here," according to Gupta.

There are 950 VIPs taking part in the ceremony, according to Tokyo 2020 spokesman Hidemasa Nakamura, including around 800 foreign guests and 150 from Japan, CNN affiliate TV Asahi reported.