WASHINGTON — After being postponed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Tokyo Olympics will finally take place July 23 through August 8.
The Opening Ceremony is the first prominent celebration of the competition, but this year it will likely look and sound slightly different without fans. The order of nations has also been changed slightly, so you may need to wait a bit longer than normal for Team USA's appearance.
Tokyo has issued an emergency order that lasts beyond the game, barring any fans -- even athletes' families -- from attending. A reduced number of Olympic officials and VIPs, including first lady Jill Biden, will be in attendance.
The Opening Ceremony will still include performances, pageantry and the Parade of Nations.
For Tokyo, the order of when athletes parade behind their nation's flag-bearers will be slightly different this year, according to NBC Sports.
The International Olympic Committee says tradition dictates that the parade is in alphabetical order, according to the language of the host country, with the exception of Greece leading the parade and the host country bringing up the rear. Kyodo News in Japan reported in October that the Tokyo Games organizing committee will determine the marching order based on the Japanese-language names and Japan's "fifty-sound" phonetic order.
NBC Sports reported that Greece, which traditionally marches first, will be followed by the Refugee Olympic Team. When the Refugee Team was first introduced in the 2016 Rio Olympics, they marched second to last. So, following the Refugee Team, all nations will follow in alphabetical order, with a few other key exceptions.
When does Team USA march during the Opening Ceremony?
Also new this year, future Olympic host nations will march at the end of the parade right before the host country.
So, the United States will be the third to last country in the Tokyo Olympics Parade of Nations, according to NBC Sports, because the 2028 Summer Games will be held in Los Angeles.
France, which is hosting the 2024 Olympics, will be second to last, just before host nation Japan.
There will be 206 National Olympic Committees and the IOC Refugee Olympic Team competing in the Tokyo Olympics, according to the games committee. In total, 11,090 athletes will be competing.
This year, the theme for the Opening Ceremony is "United by Emotion," according to Tokyo Olympics organizers. It will be designed to bring "fresh hope and encouragement around the world."
"In the Opening Ceremony, we will aspire to reaffirm the role of sport and the value of the Olympic Games, to express our gratitude and admiration for the efforts we all made together over the past year, and also to bring a sense of hope for the future," the Tokyo Olympics said in a statement.
Adding: "We hope it will be an experience that conveys how we all have the ability to celebrate differences, to empathise, and to live side by side with compassion for one another."