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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9:56 a.m. ET, July 23, 2021

Global stars sing John Lennon’s “Imagine” as Tokyo 2020 kicks off

Following the parade of athletes, musicians from around the world sang a version of John Lennon's “Imagine” together.

Angelique Kidjo, Alejandro Sanz, John Legend and Keith Urban all took part in the performance.

"Imagination has the power to unite and to move us forward. By singing this much-loved song in relay, we will spread its powerful message all over the world," a guide to the Ceremony explained. 

9:57 a.m. ET, July 23, 2021

1,800 drones formed a glowing globe in the Tokyo sky

Drones fly over the stadium in the form of a globe during the Opening Ceremony.
Drones fly over the stadium in the form of a globe during the Opening Ceremony. Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Toward the end of the Opening Ceremony, 1,800 drones flew together to form a globe in the night sky. As the glowing drones soared over the stadium, performers sang "Imagine" by John Lennon.

The rendition of "Imagine" included musical stars such as John Legend and Keith Urban.

9:55 a.m. ET, July 23, 2021

The parade of athletes at the Opening Ceremony has ended

A general view shows inside the Olympic Stadium as fireworks are set off.
A general view shows inside the Olympic Stadium as fireworks are set off. Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

The parade of athletes at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Opening Ceremony has just ended.

Over 200 nations sashayed their way into Tokyo's National Stadium as they went head-to-head to determine who had come up with the most striking uniform for the Ceremony.

9:35 a.m. ET, July 23, 2021

Japan's emperor is at the opening ceremony without any other family members due to Covid-19

Japan's Emperor Naruhito, right, and President of the IOC Thomas Bach wave during the Opening Ceremony.
Japan's Emperor Naruhito, right, and President of the IOC Thomas Bach wave during the Opening Ceremony. Natacha Pisarenk/AP

Japan's Emperor Naruhito is attending the opening ceremony without any other member of the imperial family, according to the Imperial Household Agency.

This is a stark reminder of the the coronavirus pandemic's toll and its current state in Japan as cases continue to rise.

With all the struggles and difficulties that the International Olympic Committee has faced to stage the Games in the midst of the ongoing pandemic, president Thomas Bach believes it will be a moment of "joy and relief."

9:40 a.m. ET, July 23, 2021

First lady Jill Biden cheers on Team USA

Flag bearers Sue Bird and Eddy Alvares of Team United States lead their team out during the Opening Ceremony.
Flag bearers Sue Bird and Eddy Alvares of Team United States lead their team out during the Opening Ceremony. Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Team USA just entered the stadium as first lady Jill Biden cheered them on. The US has more than 200 athletes walking in the ceremony.

Biden is leading the US delegation at the 2020 Tokyo Games, and is one of just 950 VIP guests at the Opening Ceremony.

This is not Biden's first time at the Olympics in support of America's athletes. As second lady in 2010, she and then-Vice President Joe Biden attended the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada.

The first lady has had a packed schedule in Japan — her first solo trip abroad as first lady of the United States. Her schedule has included not only the Olympic Games, but at least two diplomatic events, including meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Emperor Naruhito.

First Lady Jill Biden waves during the Opening Ceremony.
First Lady Jill Biden waves during the Opening Ceremony. Dylan Martinez/Pool/Getty Images

Biden hosted a virtual chat with some US Olympic athletes at the US Embassy Ambassador residence.

NBC Think published a letter from Biden to Team USA, which she read to the athletes at the virtual event.

“Becoming an Olympian is a rare accomplishment in a normal time, but you did it during a global pandemic. You are forever one of the most elite, most celebrated and most accomplished athletes in the world,” Biden said.

She continued, “Your entire nation is cheering you on and we are grateful for what you’ve given us: the chance to come together in common awe and appreciation for your accomplishments and the shared joy of rooting for our country on the edge of our seats.”

CNN's Betsy Klein and Kate Bennett contributed reporting in this post.

9:32 a.m. ET, July 23, 2021

These are the athletes who are carrying the flag for the USA

From CNN's Ben Morse

Sue Bird #6 of the USA Basketball Women's National Team smiles during the game against the Australia Women's National Team on July 16, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Sue Bird #6 of the USA Basketball Women's National Team smiles during the game against the Australia Women's National Team on July 16, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ned Dishman/NBAE/Getty Images

Bearing your country's flag as you and your fellow athletes make their way into a stadium for an opening ceremony is one of the greatest honors bestowed on any Olympian.

For Team USA, four-time Olympic basketball gold medalist Sue Bird and baseball player Eddy Alvarez have been given that honor after they were named as their country's flag bearers for the opening ceremony, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee announced Wednesday.

"It's an incredible honor to be selected the flag bearer for Team USA," said Bird in a statement. "I know what that means because I got to witness Dawn Staley go through it when she was selected in 2004.
"It's an honor that is bigger than the moment in that you've been selected by your fellow Team USA athletes to represent the entire delegation, and it will last forever."
Eddy Alvarez runs the bases during the WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier Super Round West Palm Beach, Florida, on June 4.
Eddy Alvarez runs the bases during the WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier Super Round West Palm Beach, Florida, on June 4. Mark Brown/Getty Images

Bird and Alvarez were voted as flag bearers by Team USA athletes. The opening ceremony on Friday marks the first time the US delegation will have two flag-bearers.

"It is an honor and a privilege to be named as one of the flag bearers by my fellow Team USA athletes for the Opening Ceremony," said Alvarez.
"Being a first-generation Cuban-American, my story represents the American Dream. My family has sacrificed so much for me to have the opportunity to wave this flag proudly."
9:38 a.m. ET, July 23, 2021

Olympic teams wow the world with eclectic fashion show during Opening Ceremony

Paraguay's delegation parade during the Opening Ceremony.
Paraguay's delegation parade during the Opening Ceremony. Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Much like a Paris fashion show, over 200 nations sashayed their way into Tokyo's National Stadium as they went head-to-head to determine who had come up with the most striking uniform for the Olympics’ Opening Ceremony.

Some teams went for smart jackets and trousers, while others chose to go for more traditional dress to showcase their countries’ cultures.

But two South American nations -- Paraguay and Colombia -- really caught the eye.

Paraguay's athletes donned bright red and white striped shirts with white trousers, topped off with a smart hat.

Members of Colombia's delegation enter the Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony.
Members of Colombia's delegation enter the Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony. Hannah McKay/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Colombia's representatives wore dark blue robes with elaborate yellow embroidery, accompanied by wide-brimmed hats to cap the look.

An honorable mention to a third South American country -- Chile. Their team members wore some pretty snazzy hats, cocked at a jaunty angle.

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.