Athletes parade in empty stadium
In an opening ceremony marked by simplicity, one tradition held on Friday - athletes from all over the world paraded into the Olympic stadium to represent their nations, for the first time their smiles hidden behind masks and most countries represented by both male and female flagbearers.
But the opening ceremony, normally a star-studded display teeming with celebrities, lacked the usual glitz with fewer than 1,000 people in attendance, strict social distancing rules and signs calling on spectators to "be quiet around the venue."
Regardless, it marks a coming together of the world, with an audience of hundreds of millions around the globe and at various stages of the pandemic tuning in to watch the start of the greatest show in sport.
Members of the Canada delegation wore patches in the colour of the rainbow, the symbol of the LGBT community, on their uniform jackets.
Other athletes were also expected to make statements about equality and justice and most nations were represented by a man and a woman after the organisers changed their rules to allow two flagbearers.
The opening also featured fireworks and a moment of silence to honour those lost to COVID-19, with a nod to Japanese tradition represented by wooden Olympic rings linked to the 1964 Games.
A vastly smaller number of athletes, about 20 per nation, marched in the teams' parade, with many flying in just before their competitions and due to leave shortly after to avoid infections.
Delegations tried their best to liven the mood, waving national flags. Uganda, wearing bright traditional costumes, did a few measures of a dance, while the Argentine delegation jumped up and down on entering. The women on Iran's team all had their heads adorned with matching blue and white coverings.
There were also a variety of masks, from plain blue or white surgical masks to others in the colours of the national flags or emblazoned with national seals.
Postponed for a year, organisers were forced to take the unprecedented step of holding the Olympics without fans as the novel coronavirus is on the rise again, taking lives around the world.
The opening video featured at the stadium recapped Japan's path to the Games and the challenges the world has faced since the selection of the Japanese capital as host in 2013.
It showed how in 2020 the coronavirus struck, with lockdowns forcing the unprecedented postponement only four months before the Games were supposed to open, setting off a roller-coaster period of uncertainty and preparations in isolation for the athletes.
A moment of silence was held "for all those family and friends we have lost," especially to the coronavirus, and mention was made of the Israeli athletes slain at the 1972 Munich Games.