Protesters and fans gather in Tokyo as Olympic torch relay reaches final stage

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The opening ceremony for this year’s Summer Games – which have been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic – will take place at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium on Friday.

Usually held in a stadium filled with ecstatic fans, this year’s ceremony will see athletes from around the world parading through a nearly empty venue after it was announced that spectators would not be allowed to attend due to the increase. of Covid-19 cases in Japan.

“The most difficult part of the process was that the postponement meant a simplification of the ceremonies and the message had to be drastically revised,” said Takayuki Hioki, executive producer of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee ceremonies.

“After almost five years of planning, we suddenly found ourselves rethinking everything. It was the biggest challenge,” Hioki said.

Due to restrictions, only a small number of officials and dignitaries will be present for the opening ceremony.

Tokyo 2020 spokesperson Hidemasa Nakamura told CNN that around 950 VIPs will attend the event. The total will include around 800 foreign guests and 150 Japanese guests, CNN affiliate TV Asahi reported.

Japanese Emperor Naruhito, who will declare the Olympics open, will attend without any other members of the Imperial Family, according to the Imperial Household Agency.

With all the struggles and difficulties the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has faced in hosting the Games amid the ongoing pandemic, President Thomas Bach believes it will be a time of “joy and relief”.

However, as Covid-19 cases continue to rise in Tokyo, there will be notable absentees. Japanese automaker Toyota has confirmed that its CEO Akio Toyoda will not attend the ceremony.

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