Olympic Opening Ceremonies 2021: Twitter Reacts to Celebration in Tokyo

Michelle Bruton@@michelle_nflFeatured ColumnistJuly 23, 2021

Fireworks explode during the opening ceremony in the Olympic Stadium at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 23, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
David J. Phillip/Associated Press

If you were willing to wake up early Friday morning, you could tune in to the Olympics opening ceremony live on NBC—Japan's time zone is 13 hours ahead of Eastern Time.

It's the first time in the network's history that it broadcast the opening ceremony live in the morning, according to NBC.

While most of the U.S. will likely tune in to the prime-time broadcast at 7:30 p.m. ET, some of us were awake and online when it aired live at 6:55 a.m. ET. 

Some weren't happy about it.

Barry Petchesky @barry

We gotta do something about time zones.

The experience of watching the Games this year, of course, will be a strange one.

While there is a lot of admiration and love for the more than 11,000 athletes who are set to compete in Tokyo, there is also a lot of rightful concern and criticism that these Games are going forward even as COVID-19 rates continue to rise around the world, including in Tokyo, which has declared a state of emergency. 

As The Ringer's Rodger Sherman put it, one can enjoy watching the athletes compete at the Games while acknowledging the issues within and surrounding the International Olympic Committee.

Rodger Sherman @rodger

I’m not a big “opening ceremonies” guy because while I like watching the cool athletes play the fun sports, I think the people in charge of the Olympics should feel deep shame instead of throwing themselves a big party saying that they're great

In fact, there was a protest outside Japan's new National Stadium during the opening ceremony. According to the New York Times' Jonathan Ellis, it was "easily audible" inside the stadium during the quiet moments. 

Jonathan Ellis @jonathanellis

Here's the protest just outside Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, which is easily audible inside during quiet moments https://t.co/AUQQrTDjcF

Now that the athletes are ensconced in the Olympic Village and undergoing daily COVID-19 testing, we must hope their arrival has not endangered the citizens of Tokyo. 

The ceremony opened by showcasing the history and traditions of Japanese culture, including the realization of a plan 57 years in the making. When Japan hosted the 1964 Games, athletes planted trees, which were then used to build the wooden rings used in this year's opening ceremony using a traditional Japanese style of craftsmanship called yosegi-zaiku.

The ceremony also featured video game music and a kabuki performance. The names of the nations were written in manga style on placards, the stage was representative of Mount Fuji and the podium represented a Japanese fan. 

Despite the considerable obstacles in getting to this moment, the athletes who marched in the Parade of Nations radiated joy even though they were masked. There was dancing, jumping and, of course, lots of live-streaming. 

The flag bearers for Team USA are traditionally voted for by their fellow Olympians. For these Games, WNBA player Sue Bird and MLB player Eddy Alvarez were chosen, as, for the first time ever, nations were allowed both a male and female flag bearer. 

The Team USA Twitter account shared the emotional moment Alvarez found out he was nominated for the honor. 

Team USA @TeamUSA

Didn't want to make you all emotional this early but while we wait for Team USA, flag bearer @eddyalvarez90 reacting to his selection is a real tearjerker. #OpeningCeremony https://t.co/Jh4BIHOBDy

As he did in the Rio 2016 Games and the PyeongChang 2020 Games, Tonga's Pita Taufatofua walked shirtless and glistening as the flag bearer for his nation, and social media couldn't have been more appreciative of his services. 

H.R.Owens @heatherowens33

THE TONGA LAD IS BACK. #Tokyo2020 #OpeningCeremony https://t.co/Idmw1BIwBu

ανδρέας 👨🏻‍🎨 @MrDrewy

Yes we will be supporting Tonga at the Olympics this year, no further questions please. https://t.co/IBEI1NjrRP

During the opening ceremony, the host nation showcased its culture and history but also its technology. Japan sent more than 1,800 drones into the Toyko night sky to create an illuminated globe.

Sparkle 🧚‍♀️❀ @Spicedsparkle

Over 1800 drones above the stadium. Truly beautiful 😍😍 #Tokyo2020 #Olympics #OpeningCeremony https://t.co/fW9jXbFKxt

In the opinion of the internet, the gold-medal moment was a performance near the end of the opening ceremony that brought to life the pictograms of the 33 sports and 50 disciplines at the Tokyo 2021 Games. 

It was delightful. 

Dan Orlowitz @aishiterutokyo

This ceremony is already an hour longer than it needed to be but this pictogram segment is an ABSOLUTE banger.

Meg Bonney @MegBonneyWriter

This pictogram thing is super weird. I love it. #Olympics https://t.co/xWzL5G5R9a

lae @axelsandwich

get you someone who supports you as much as white pictogram supports blue 😌✊

Itayi Viriri 🇿🇼 @itayiviriri

I hope I wasn’t the only one who found that ‘pictogram’ segment weirdly compelling and actually fun. #Olympics https://t.co/Dt4P5OaTCX

Tom Schad @Tom_Schad

Pictogram guys got to be the MVPs of the opening ceremony so far

The ceremony concluded as tennis star Naomi Osaka was revealed as the final torchbearer and lit the Olympic cauldron.

Gretchen Ho @gretchenho

What a moment for Naomi Osaka who lit up the #Tokyo2020 Olympic cauldron. #Olympics #SeeUsStronger @CignalTV https://t.co/6Upgxq2vS9

Osaka elected to represent Japan, her country of birth, not the U.S., in these Games.