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 12:17 AM ET, Sat July 24, 2021
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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. 

7:44 a.m. ET, July 23, 2021

NOW: The parade of athletes is underway at the Tokyo 2020 Opening Ceremony

Flag bearers Anna Korakaki and Eleftherios Petrounias of Team Greece lead their teammates out during the Opening Ceremony.
Flag bearers Anna Korakaki and Eleftherios Petrounias of Team Greece lead their teammates out during the Opening Ceremony. Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The parade to welcome athletes has just started.

It is set to theme songs from video games — a quintessential part of Japanese culture. It will include a creative display inspired by contemporary Japan, with placards featuring manga motifs.

"Our earth is home to a diversity of life, and no two of us are the same. By respecting our differences and individual characteristics, we hope we can all live together in harmony and with compassion for one another," organizers of the ceremony said.

After the parade, there will be a performance of the song “Imagine.”

"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 Opening Ceremony explains. 

7:34 a.m. ET, July 23, 2021

Tokyo 2020 Opening Ceremony holds moment of silence for Covid-19 victims

Japan's Emperor Naruhito, IOC president Thomas Bach and other delegates stand for a moments silence during the opening ceremony.
Japan's Emperor Naruhito, IOC president Thomas Bach and other delegates stand for a moments silence during the opening ceremony. Martin Rickett/PA Images/Getty Images

After the Japanese national anthem was sung at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Opening Ceremony, a moment of silence was called to remember the global victims of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Commentators made special mention of the Olympic athletes who were not able to attend the games due to the pandemic.

The limited number of spectators who were allowed in the stadium were asked to stand to their feet to honor all the lives coronavirus has claimed around the world.

7:29 a.m. ET, July 23, 2021

Japanese flag raised by masked flag bearers

The Japanese flag is carried on stage during the Opening Ceremony.
The Japanese flag is carried on stage during the Opening Ceremony. Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The Japanese flag was just raised at the 2020 Olympic Games as the Opening Ceremony gets underway. The flag bearers handling it all wore masks.

This year's Opening Ceremony, which is underway in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, looks radically different from previous Olympics. Only about 950 VIPs are attending, Tokyo 2020 spokesperson Hidemasa Nakamura told CNN.

7:20 a.m. ET, July 23, 2021

Athletes will see less than 1,000 people at the opening ceremony. Here's who is attending.

Fireworks explode during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on July 23.
Fireworks explode during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on July 23. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The $1.5 billion stadium built for the 2020 Olympics can hold nearly 70,000 people, but athletes from around the world will be 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.

Meanwhile, authorities have identified 110 coronavirus cases tied to the Olympics, the event's organizers said Friday.

Given the circumstances, Japan's Emperor Naruhito, who will declare the Olympics open, will be attending without any other member of the imperial family, according to the Imperial Household Agency.

Japan's Emperor Naruhito is pictured at the opening of a session at the upper house of parliament in Tokyo, Japan, on January 18.
Japan's Emperor Naruhito is pictured at the opening of a session at the upper house of parliament in Tokyo, Japan, on January 18. Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Japanese automaker Toyota has confirmed its CEO, Akio Toyoda, will not be attending the ceremony.

French President Emmanuel Macron, whose country will host the next Summer Games in 2024, has arrived in Tokyo for the opening ceremony.

First Lady Jill Biden is also going to be present at the event. She's scheduled to meet with Emperor Naruhito at the Imperial Palace ahead of the opening ceremony.

8:16 a.m. ET, July 23, 2021

Here's a running list of opening ceremony participants per country

From CNN's Ben Morse and Chandler Thornton

Usually held in a stadium full of ecstatic fans, this year's ceremony will have athletes from across the globe parading in a near empty venue after it was announced that spectators would not be allowed to attend because of rising Covid-19 cases in Japan.

Here's the number of participants per country confirmed so far:

South Korea

  • 26 athletes at the opening ceremony
  • Flag bearers: Hwang Sun-woo and Kim Yeon-koung
  • Total team members: 354 (232 of which are athletes)

Canada

  • About 30 to 40 athletes at the opening ceremony
  • Flag Bearers: Miranda Ayim and Nathan Hirayama
  • Total team members: 370

India

  • 25 members at the opening ceremony (athletes and officials)
  • Total team members: 228 (119 of which are athletes)

Australia

  • About 50 members at the opening ceremony (athletes and officials)
  • Total team members: 472 athletes (total members unavailable)

United States:

  • About 200 athletes, though some could opt in or out at the last minute
  • Flag bearers: Sue Bird and Eddy Alvarez
  • Total team members: 613

Note: This post will continue to be updated as countries confirm.

Some background: The opening ceremony for this year's Summer Games — which were delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic — will take place in Tokyo's Olympic Stadium.

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

7:12 a.m. ET, July 23, 2021

The Olympics Opening Ceremony has begun

A performer is seen acting during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on July 23.
A performer is seen acting during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on July 23. Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

After Covid-19 almost derailed the Tokyo 2020 Olympics for the second year in a row, the Games are finally beginning, kicking off with an opening ceremony in a nearly-empty stadium.

If you miss the live broadcast, the roughly four-hour opening ceremony will also be replayed at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

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

First lady Jill Biden attending Opening Ceremony

US First Lady Jill Biden arrives for the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
US First Lady Jill Biden arrives for the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Leon Neal/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

First lady Jill Biden is at the Tokyo 2020 Opening Ceremony.

It is her first solo trip abroad since her husband, President Joe Biden, was elected in November, 2020.

Just over 200 US athletes will walk during the Opening Ceremony. Over 600 US athletes are due to compete at Tokyo 2020.

Biden's Saturday in Tokyo includes one non-athletic event. She will dedicate a room in the Chief of Mission Residence to Irene Hirano Inouye and Daniel Inouye, the late senator and Medal of Honor recipient from Hawaii.

A viewing party of the USA vs. Mexico softball game with US Embassy officers and their families follows, before Biden heads to "several Olympic events before departing Tokyo," according to a release from the East Wing.

Read more about Jill Biden's trip to Japan here.

6:59 a.m. ET, July 23, 2021

After a year of delays and uncertainty, the Olympics formally kick off today

The floor of Olympic Stadium is lit before the start of the opening ceremony July 23, in Tokyo.
The floor of Olympic Stadium is lit before the start of the opening ceremony July 23, in Tokyo. David J. Phillip/AP

It's Friday, July 23. The Olympic Games are about to formally begin, and here's what you need to know.

It's go time: A year after their scheduled start date, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics (they kept the 2020 branding) are set to begin. The Games officially kick off Friday night Japan time with the opening ceremony, putting an end to months of speculation over whether the event would even able to go ahead as Japan struggles to rein in Covid-19.

Thursday saw Tokyo record 1,979 new Covid cases — the highest daily number since Jan. 15. As of Thursday, there have been 110 positive cases linked to the Games as those arriving in Tokyo undergo a rigorous testing program.

A handful of athletes have seen their dreams dashed after testing positive for the virus, forcing them to withdraw from competition. Most competitors spend years, if not most of their lives, training to reach the Olympics — and about 70% of them only get the opportunity once, according to Dick Pound, the longest-serving member of the International Olympic Committee.

The dignitaries arrive: French President Emmanuel Macron, whose country will host the next Summer Games in 2024, has arrived in Tokyo for the opening ceremony. First Lady Jill Biden is also traveling to the Japanese capital. She's scheduled to meet with Emperor Naruhito at the Imperial Palace ahead of the opening ceremony.

However, the number of dignitaries in attendance will be much smaller than previous years. Organizers said only 950 VIPs will be present in a stadium that can seat nearly 70,000 people. While athletes normally enter the stadium to a crowd of roaring fans, they'll instead be greeted by mostly empty seats — a stark, visual reminder of the pandemic's toll.

What's on schedule: Friday in Japan is pretty light. There are no medals up for grabs, but archery and rowing have preliminary competitions. The Games kick off in earnest Saturday morning Japan time, which is Friday night on the US East Coast. Scroll down to check out what events are coming Friday US time.

The Games' full schedule can be found here.