Tennis superstar Naomi Osaka lit the flame, the beacon of hope the Olympics attempts to be as the Tokyo 2020 officially commenced a year later than planned amidst a global pandemic.
Unlike the norm, Friday’s opening ceremony was a deviation as there were no carnivals and colourful performances but a more sombre tone, a sobering reminder that this is a Games taking place in a world still facing its toughest challenge.
“Today is a moment of hope,” said Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
“Yes, it is very different from what all of us had imagined. But let us cherish this moment because finally we are all here together.”
But the lack of a crowd was stark as socially distanced and masked athletes – though some went without – waved to empty stands, no roar accompanying their march into the stadium.
Smatterings of applause sounded from the few inside. Just the media and some 900 dignitaries watched on in the 68,000-seater venue, including US First Lady Dr Jill Biden and French president Emmanuel Macron.
This particular Games is going to be different, dampened by masks, positive tests and the absence of fans.
But it is still the Olympics; still the greatest platform for mankind to share her humanity and togetherness.