Boxer Mary Kom and hockey player Manpreet Singh led India’s contingent out with the tricolour held high as the Tokyo Olympics 2020 opened on Friday July 23.
With nations lining up for the customary Parade of Nations according to the Japanese alphabetical order, India was the 21st nation to walk out at the National Stadium in Tokyo, the venue of the opening ceremony.
This was the first time in Olympic history that two flag-bearers led their contingent.
Boxers Amit Panghal, Lovlina Borgohain, Satish Kumar, Ashish Kumar, Pooja Rani, Simranjit Kaur, Manish Kaushik, swimmer Sajan Prakash, gymnast Pranati Nayak, fencer Bhavani Devi, table tennis players G Sathiyan, Sutirtha Mukherjee, tennis player Ankita Raina and the entire sailing team – KC Ganapathy, Varun Ashok, Vishnu Saravanan and Nethra Kumanan – along with six officials made up the rest of the Indian party for the march past.
In New Delhi Prime Minister Narendra Modi was photographed catching “a few glimpses” of the opening ceremony on television, cheering the Indian contingent.
“Wishing our dynamic contingent the very best,” he tweeted.
— ANI (@ANI) July 23, 2021
The Olympics began at the nearly empty National Stadium after a year-long delay due to the pandemic. The event 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”.
— #Tokyo2020 (@Tokyo2020) July 23, 2021
Athletes from all over the world paraded into the Olympic stadium to represent their nations, for the first time their smiles hidden behind masks.
India is being represented by its largest ever contingent of over 120 athletes at the Tokyo Olympics, which also includes the highest female representation of 56 sportspersons.
A video showing athletes training at home during the pandemic started the show, with pink fireworks bursting being lit after a countdown.
The ceremony in the 68,000-capacity stadium took place before just a few hundred officials and dignitaries, including Japan’s Emperor Naruhito, French President Emmanuel Macron and US First Lady Jill Biden.