(June 23) The Olympic opening ceremony kicked off Friday evening in Tokyo, officially marking the start to the delayed summer games that have been plagued by scandals.

The event showcasing Japanese culture is being held in a mostly empty national stadium after the decision to ban spectators due to the coronavirus pandemic. About 950 people were in the stands, including U.S. First Lady Jill Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron and the Japanese emperor.

The start of the games follows several setbacks, including multiple high-profile resignations. A rapidly rising Covid case count in Tokyo has further soured public sentiment. and more recently, a rapidly rising Covid-case count in Tokyo. That has further soured public sentiment.

The ceremony began with moving geometric shapes drawn in chalk against a blackboard. Dancers used a complex web of red ropes to express the emotional conflict, anxiety and sorrow of those training during the pandemic. Mask-wearing former athletes, including 2000 Olympic marathon gold medalist Naoko Takahashi, carried the Japanese flag into the stadium.

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