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‘United by Emotion’: Everything you need to know about the Opening Ceremony for Tokyo 2020



After a year’s delay, the Opening Ceremony for Tokyo 2020 will finally get underway in few hours’ time. But how much do you know about the showstopping event?

The wait is almost over.

The Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is as anticipated as the Games themselves, and final preparations are well-underway for the grand opening of the biggest sporting event on the planet.

Billions of people around the world are expected to tune in to watch the proceedings at Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium, but how much do you know about the ceremony?

The Opening Ceremony of any Olympic Games is always a closely-guarded secret, and Tokyo 2020 is no different.

Although there will be no spectators in Tokyo, you can expect fireworks, flagbearers and fanfare as each of the competing nations are led out by Greece, home of the Ancient Olympic Games, with host nation Japan entering the stadium last.


After the Olympic oath is taken by athletes, officials and coaches, and the Games are officially declared open, viewers can look forward to a spectacular artistic display as the flame enters the city’s Olympic Stadium and the lighting of the Olympic cauldron takes place.

Unlike previous Games, the cauldron will in fact be located away from the stadium and situated in Tokyo’s waterfront city.

What is different about the Olympic oath this year?

One of the most symbolic and important parts of the Opening Ceremony is the Olympic oath. At the Tokyo 2020 Games the oath has been significantly adapted in order to highlight the importance of solidarity, inclusion, non-discrimination and equality.

The number of oath-takers has also been extended from three to six – two athletes, two coaches and two judges. This is in line with the International Olympic Committee (IOC’s) and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee’s drive towards gender equality.

Who is behind the Opening Ceremony?

The creative team is led by executive producer HIOKI Takayuki. He is assisted by NOMURA Mansai, who was involved in the planning of the ceremony prior to the Games’ postponement last year.


As for the rest? Stay tuned!

What is the concept behind the Opening Ceremony?

Tokyo 2020 has designed the opening ceremony around several themes, but they are all underpinned by the idea the Games can bring fresh hope and encouragement to people around the world – both through the active appearance of athletes and through the power of sport.

The common concept across all ceremonies – both opening and closing, for Olympic and Paralympic Games, is “Moving Forward” – however the Opening Ceremony for the Olympic Games has the theme of “United by Emotion”.

What does ‘United by Emotion’ mean?

Tokyo 2020 will be unlike any other Olympic Games in history because it will take place in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is an obstacle far beyond anything we have ever faced.

The world is made up of people who are different ages and nationalities and come from all walks of life, and now, due to the pandemic, we are physically separated. This is why, Tokyo 2020 wants everyone to experience the same excitement, joy, and at times disappointment, through the athletes’ competitive performances.


Sport is universal. It is an invaluable treasure that Tokyo 2020 believes has the power to unite the world through emotion, even if we are apart, speak different languages, or come from different cultures.

In the Opening Ceremony, Tokyo 2020 hopes to reaffirm the role of sport and the value of the Olympic Games, to express gratitude and admiration for the efforts we all made together over the past year, and also to bring a sense of hope for the future.

It’s hoped the ceremony will be an experience that conveys how we all have the ability to celebrate our differences, to empathise, and to live side-by-side with compassion for one another.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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