After a year-long pandemic postponement and a build-up marked by scandal and controversy, the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics took place on Friday at a largely empty National Stadium. Performances and fireworks kicked off the celebration followed by the parade of participating countries. The representatives of Pakistan’s Olympic team encountered a glaring difference as they marched through Tokyo’s National Stadium during the opening ceremony.
While the rest of the group had lined their faces, the two athletes carrying their country’s flag removed their masks as they marched. During the opening ceremony at the National Stadium, Mahoor Shahzad and Khalil Akhtar did not observe COVID-19 protocols. The Pakistan flagbearers did not wear their masks as required by the rules. While Mahoor Shahzad’s mask was beneath her chin, shooter Khalil Akhtar’s mask covered his lips but not his nostrils as seen in the picture. The majority of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan delegations were also observed with their faces covered throughout the event. The footage was shared on social media.
The organisers have made significant steps to contain the viral epidemic. The organisers have encouraged the concept of masks and social distance, from changes to award ceremonies to no group photographs, yet strolling without masks is counter to what they wanted.
According to one of the reports of Reuters, 11 athletes have tested positive for the coronavirus since July 2, while the total number of Olympic-related diseases, including authorities and media, stands at 110. It is mandated to wear masks at all times for all athletes, presenters, and volunteers according to the Tokyo 2020 playbook and COVID-19 countermeasures.
Despite the fact that people from all over the world, including athletes and officials, attended the opening ceremony, locals wandering about the beautiful National Stadium were refused entrance due to the crowd control restriction concerning the COVID-19 situation.
Fewer competitors from all contingents attended the ceremony, some to concentrate on their Saturday games, and others to avoid contracting the illness that has already swept all across Games village.
Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), stated that the Tokyo Games will be different from past ones. The Tokyo Games would not have happened if it hadn’t been for his steely will and perseverance.
As the Indian contingent made their way to the stadium, Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Anurag Thakur was seen waving the Indian flag back home.