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Photos: Highlights Of The Tokyo Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony

Fireworks explode Friday during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Games at Olympic Stadium in Tokyo.
Fireworks explode Friday during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Games at Olympic Stadium in Tokyo.

Fireworks soared above Tokyo's new Olympic Stadium Friday as the delayed Summer Games finally held its opening ceremony — an event that culminates in lighting the Olympic cauldron.

Athletes marched in front of thousands of empty seats as only a sparse crowd was admitted due to COVID-19 restrictions. Those attending included first lady Jill Biden, who chatted with French President Emmanuel Macron.

A standout moment came midway through the event when Tonga's Pita Taufatofua once again vied to steal the show by marching into the stadium bare-chested (and oiled).

This year's ceremony, titled "United by Emotion," also brought a poignant moment of silence as organizers encouraged people to remember loved ones who were lost to the pandemic.

Despite the cloud cast by the coronavirus — from the one-year postponement to a ban on spectators — athletes showed their excitement finally to be at the Olympics, bouncing and bounding across the stadium floor to open the Games.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Performers dance during the opening ceremony Friday.
Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images
Performers dance during the opening ceremony Friday.
Tennis star Naomi Osaka lights the Olympic cauldron with the Olympic torch.
Matthias Hangst / Getty Images
Tennis star Naomi Osaka lights the Olympic cauldron with the Olympic torch.
Tonga's flag bearers Malia Paseka (left) and Pita Taufatofua lead their delegation.
Hannah McKay / AFP via Getty Images
Tonga's flag bearers Malia Paseka (left) and Pita Taufatofua lead their delegation.
A performer at the opening ceremony. The Tokyo Games officially began Friday after a year's delay due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Sergei Bobylev / Tass via Getty Images
A performer at the opening ceremony. The Tokyo Games officially began Friday after a year's delay due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Dancers perform during the opening ceremony.
David J. Phillip / AP
Dancers perform during the opening ceremony.
Ireland's flag bearers Kellie Harrington and Brendan Irvine carry the Irish tricolor flag.
Brendan Moran / Sportsfile via Getty Images
Ireland's flag bearers Kellie Harrington and Brendan Irvine carry the Irish tricolor flag.
Supporters outside the Olympic Stadium take pictures of the fireworks lighting up the sky over Tokyo.
Philip Fong / AFP via Getty Images
Supporters outside the Olympic Stadium take pictures of the fireworks lighting up the sky over Tokyo.
Performers take part in the opening ceremony.
Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters
Performers take part in the opening ceremony.
Flag bearers Hannah Mills and Mohamed Sbihi of Great Britain lead out their team during the open ceremony.
Joe Giddens / PA Images via Getty Images
Flag bearers Hannah Mills and Mohamed Sbihi of Great Britain lead out their team during the open ceremony.
A view inside the Olympic Stadium with fireworks during the opening ceremony.
Matthias Hangst / Getty Images
A view inside the Olympic Stadium with fireworks during the opening ceremony.
Flag bearers Laura Ludwig and Patrick Hausding of Germany lead their team out during the opening ceremony.
Cameron Spencer / Getty Images
Flag bearers Laura Ludwig and Patrick Hausding of Germany lead their team out during the opening ceremony.
Performers take part in the opening ceremony.
Matthias Hangst / Getty Images
Performers take part in the opening ceremony.
A security officer looks out over an empty stadium before the opening ceremony.
David J. Phillip / AP
A security officer looks out over an empty stadium before the opening ceremony.
A member of Egypt's team waves a flag during the opening ceremony.
Hannah McKay / Pool/Getty Images
A member of Egypt's team waves a flag during the opening ceremony.
The Japanese national flag comes onto the stage during the opening ceremony.
Cameron Spencer / Getty Images
The Japanese national flag comes onto the stage during the opening ceremony.
More than 1,800 drones form the shape of a globe during the opening ceremony.
Kiichiro Sato / AP
More than 1,800 drones form the shape of a globe during the opening ceremony.
A police officer gestures toward a small group (not seen) protesting against the Tokyo Games on Friday.
Behrouz Mehri / AFP via Getty Images
A police officer gestures toward a small group (not seen) protesting against the Tokyo Games on Friday.
The Olympic cauldron is seen as the Japanese flag is raised during the national anthem.
Maddie Meyer / Getty Images
The Olympic cauldron is seen as the Japanese flag is raised during the national anthem.
A performer acts during the opening ceremony.
Clive Brunskill / Getty Images
A performer acts during the opening ceremony.
Members of Team USA take in the atmosphere of the Games during the opening ceremony.
Matthias Hangst / Getty Images
Members of Team USA take in the atmosphere of the Games during the opening ceremony.
A traditional song gets a showcase during the opening ceremony.
Jan Woitas / picture alliance via Getty Images
A traditional song gets a showcase during the opening ceremony.
The Japanese national flag gets raised during the opening ceremony.
François-Xavier Marit / AFP via Getty Images
The Japanese national flag gets raised during the opening ceremony.
Performers at the opening ceremony.
Stanislav Krasilnikov / Tass via Getty Images
Performers at the opening ceremony.
Flag bearers Anna Korakaki and Eleftherios Petrounias of Greece lead their teammates out during the opening ceremony.
Maja Hitij / Getty Images
Flag bearers Anna Korakaki and Eleftherios Petrounias of Greece lead their teammates out during the opening ceremony.
A view from outside the Olympic Stadium offers a fireworks showcase.
Lintao Zhang / Getty Images
A view from outside the Olympic Stadium offers a fireworks showcase.