It was Naomi Osaka, a young tennis star and an icon of style and social inclusion, the last head of the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympic Games. Naomi lit the Olympic brazier, at the end of a sober ceremony, which remembered all the victims of the global pandemic.
The opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games took place yesterday. It was a ceremony different from the others, which sent messages of encouragement to all those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. To close the ceremony and light the prestigious Olympic brazier so was the young Japanese, one of the most beloved and appreciated athletes in Japan.
The young champion appeared very excited, but she did her job in the best way possible and kicked off the Olympic Games. Precisely because of her nocturnal commitmen, the ITF published the new order of play of the first day and rescheduled the opening of Osaka.
The four-time Grand Slam champion was supposed to inaugurate the Center Court against Saisai Zheng. The first match will be played by Iga Swiatek and Mona Barthel. It was a very Japanese ceremony, despite Covid infections still growing.
It is no coincidence that a hundred demonstrators arrived outside the Tokyo Olympic stadium to protest.
International Olympic Committee said: "All National Olympic Committees were allowed to have a female standard-bearer and a male standard-bearer, some were unable to take advantage of this opportunity due to the complexity of the journey and the limitations of the period of stay."
Tokyo 2021: Novak Djokovic wants to rewrite history
Novak Djokovic, one of the most anticipated stars of Tokyo 2021, had considered the idea of not showing up in Japan because he did not know what it would be like to play without a crowd.
In the pre-Olympic press conference he said: "The absence of the crowd was a problem, yes. In the end, however, I thought that the Olympics are always the Olympics. And I'm happy I decided to come. I don't speak to Steffi Graf regularly, but I'd be happy to hear how she did it!
I have the utmost respect for you, for the indelible mark you have left in the history of tennis I did not think it possible that someone could even approach her business, instead it has become realistic, it has become my goal.
Di Steffi has always inspired me with her mentality: I hope to have it too and use it in my next mission. At the risk of being trivial, I want to face one day at a time and one opponent at a time. This is the approach I need to have, because in the past I didn't have it and I got hurt.
I am motivated to pursue history, I have worked hard to make it happen. But I prefer to talk about it if I have to. For now I want to focus on the present. We will be on the central, the public will be missing. I feed on the energy of the fans, which is one of the reasons why I continue to play even at 34 years-old.
Olympics are a unique experience, they make me feel part of a team, the Serbian team. I go to the pitch alone, but the energy of the other athletes, the one I breathe every night at the Village, gives me wings and pushes me to give my best.
There are neither Roger Federer nor Rafa Nadal: I haven't done many tournaments without them, it's strange not to see them. But there are still some of the best players in the world in this tournament. Luckily I'll tackle them later, so now I can focus on playing my way.
I feel good, physically and mentally: I had the best possible season, I arrive at this appointment with the best possible preparation: I hope to have a good tournament, also because on the field of the Games I have already won a tournament, even if it was not so hot."