Tokyo Olympics lights torch, begins 2020/2021 games

TOKYO (AP) — Disputed, locked down, and running a year late, the Tokyo Games began at last Friday night, a multinational showcase of the finest athletes of a world fragmented by disease — and an event steeped in the political and medical baggage of a relentless pandemic whose presence haunts every Olympic corner.

As its opening ceremony unfolded in a nearly empty national stadium, devoid of any crowd energy, the first pandemic Games in a century convened amid opposition from much of the host nation. The trepidations have threatened to drown out the usual carefully packaged glitz and soaring rhetoric about sports and peace that are the Games’ hallmarks.

Inside the stadium after dusk Friday, however, a carefully choreographed, made-for-TV ceremony sought to portray that the Games — and their spirit — are going on.

An ethereal blue light bathed the empty seats, and loud music muted the shouts of protesters outside screaming for the Games to be canceled — a widespread feeling here. Fireworks exploded in the sky above. A single-stage held an octagon shape meant to resemble the country’s fabled Mount Fuji.

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