TOKYO — For the last 16 months, COVID-19 has literally kept us apart. After a year-long postponement, the Olympic opening ceremony proved that the 206 nations competing are all united through emotion.
“We have such a great deal of respect for the Japanese people who are such a hospitable people,” said Susanne Lyons, President and Chair of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee.
With the lighting of the torch by tennis star Naomi Osaka, Japan treated the globe to an eye-popping display of culture, tradition, innovation, and compassion.
“May the games and the competition be as wonderful as we all anticipate,” said Sarah Hirshland, CEO USOPC.
Emotion ran high as first responders and children devasted by natural disasters helped carry the torch — a moment of silence paid tribute to lives lost due to the pandemic.
“This was and continues to be a challenging situation,” said USOPC’s Chief of Sports Rick Adams.
Led by four-time Olympic gold medalist and basketball player Sue Bird alongside her fellow flag bearer baseball player and winter Olympic speed skating silver medalist Eddie Alvarez, Team USA hit center stage.
With over 600 athletes in the games, the US brought its second-largest team in history but only 200 chose to walk in the ceremony under the watchful eye of First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.
“We will follow every protocol every rule to ensure this is safe and secure games.,” said Lyons.
Team USA is playing it safe when it comes to COVID, but playing to win in Japan.
Hirshland said, “Is the US coming here going to win a lot of medals? You bet we are.”
Medals will be up for grabs as soon as Saturday in seven separate events.