The Olympic Games are officially underway in Tokyo. After a year-long delay due to the coronavirus and myriad questions leading up to Friday, we finally got to see Sue Bird and Eddy Alvarez lead Team USA’s delegation through the parade of nations and Naomi Osaka light the Olympic torch.
Now that the opening ceremonies have come and gone, it’s time to turn our attention to what the Games are all about: The competition.
Team USA boasts a stacked roster of 613 athletes in 36 different disciplines. That is the second-most in United States history, trailing only the 1996 Atlanta Games when America had a contingent of 646 athletes.
From Simone Biles looking to tie the mark for most Olympic gold medals earned by a female gymnast (currently held by Soviet legend Larisa Latynina) to Megan Rapinoe & Co. looking to rectify their 2016 quarterfinal loss to Sweden by earning back-to-back World Cup and Olympic championships, Tokyo promises to be an Olympics to remember.
Here’s what went down during the first full day of events:
Naomi Osaka lights the torch
Undoubtedly the greatest athletic achievement and honor I will ever have in my life. I have no words to describe the feelings I have right now but I do know I am currently filled with gratefulness and thankfulness ❤️ love you guys thank you. pic.twitter.com/CacWQ5ToUD
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) July 23, 2021
Naomi Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam champion and one of the superstars of the Games, joined Muhammad Ali, Steve Nash, Wayne Gretzky, Rafer Johnson and the 1980 U.S. men’s hockey team as Olympians who have done the distinguished honor of lighting the cauldron.
Team USA sings HBD to KD
Team USA sang happy birthday to KD.
His birthday is in September 😂
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 23, 2021
It’s not even his birthday? Team USA made a point of trolling NBA superstar Kevin Durant by serenading him with a very public and very loud rendition of “Happy Birthday.” For those who think this could have been a pure gesture, we must inform you that Durant’s birthday isn’t until September.
Pre-parade fit check
Look good, feel good.
Feel good, compete like an OLYMPIAN.
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) July 23, 2021
— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) July 23, 2021
Team USA showed off their look before marching in the opening ceremonies at the National Stadium in Tokyo on Friday.
‘Let’s just take a moment’
He went viral in Rio.
He went viral in PyeongChang.
And he’s here in Tokyo.
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) July 24, 2021
Returning for his third Olympics as the flagbearer for Tonga, an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, Pita Taufatofua is always a crowd pleaser. His appearance prompted NBC’s Savannah Guthrie to say, “Let’s just take a moment.”
A more environmentally friendly flame
According to the Associated Press, the flame at Tokyo’s National Stadium and another cauldron burning along the waterfront near Tokyo Bay throughout the games will be sustained in part by hydrogen, the first time the fuel source will be used to power an Olympic fire.
Previous flames have usually run on propane, although magnesium, gunpowder, resin and olive oil have also been used since the first modern cauldron was lit for the Amsterdam Games in 1928. Unlike propane, hydrogen does not produce carbon dioxide when combusted.
Organizers for the London Games in 2012 touted plans for a low-carbon torch but couldn’t get the design right in time. They instead used a mix of propane and butane. Brazilian officials commissioned a smaller cauldron for Rio in 2016 to reduce the amount of fuel needed.
A new look for hoops
— #Tokyo2020 (@Tokyo2020) July 24, 2021
Konnichiwa from FLOTUS
— Jill Biden (@FLOTUS) July 23, 2021
Have you ever seen a Nigerian Gymnast at the Olympics before? This is one image that will grow on 🇳🇬🇳🇬 spectators watching #Tokyo2020
— Making of Champions (@MakingOfChamps) July 21, 2021
China earns first gold of Games
China’s Qian Yang won the first gold medal of the Tokyo Olympics, taking the top spot in the women’s 10-meter air rifle.
Yang overtook Anastasiia Galashina when the Russian missed the center two rings for an 8.9 on her final shot.
Yang had a 9.8 on her final shot and finished with an Olympic record 251.8. Galashina finished at 251.1.