Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games To Open Largely Behind Closed Doors

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The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will kick off Friday with Japan's Emperor Naruhito declaring the Games opened at a ceremony at 8 PM local time/7 AM ET (Tokyo is 13 hours ahead of US East Coast) largely behind closed doors.

Besides the athletes and officials, the grand opening ceremony will only be watched by about 950 people in the mammoth New National Stadium, in order to minimize pandemic-related risks.

The spectators are confined to a group of diplomats, foreign dignitaries, Olympic sponsors and members of the International Olympic Committee. They include U.S. First Lady Jill Biden, who is already in Tokyo leading a two-member U.S. delegation.

Competitions got underway two days ahead of the official inauguration in football and softball.

For the first time in its history, the Games will be held without public spectators at the venue.

Tokyo is under a State of emergency amid a surge in Covid cases in the capital. Spectators from overseas were already barred from attending Olympic Games.

More than 11,000 athletes from 204 nations are taking part in the biggest sports event on earth, to be held from July 23 to August 8.

The Olympic Games were originally scheduled to take place in 2020, but was delayed by a year due to the pandemic. But it will still be called "Tokyo 2020."

These games will see a whopping 339 events unfold across 33 sports, with karate, sport climbing, surfing, and skateboarding making their Olympic debut.

A number of sports and events will take place at venues outside the Japanese capital.

Competitions take place across 41 different venues, including the Japan National Stadium, Tokyo Stadium and the Yokohama Stadium.

204 national Olympic committee teams and the IOC Refugee Olympic Team have sent their teams to Tokyo.

The 2020 Games will mark the second time that Japan has hosted the Summer Olympic Games, the first being also in Tokyo in 1964.

Until last minute, the Games was under the threat of being cancelled amid vehement local opposition and more participants testing positive in the Olympic village.

In a gloomy development on the eve of the Games, the show director of the Opening Ceremony Kobayashi Kentaro was dismissed from his post after a joke he had made in the past about a painful historical event was brought to light.

IOC Athletes' Commission Chair Kirsty Coventry said that state-of-the-art audio effects will be used in all venues, broadcasting sounds from each sport from past Games to create the effect of spectators to inspire the athletes.

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