Despite the continuing coronavirus, the Tokyo Olympics are still happening, with the traditional opening ceremonies unfolding Friday in Japan, in front of a tiny in-person audience. Though
covered the ceremonies live in the early morning on US TV, many viewers will likely watch the rebroadcast, which airs at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT on NBC and on the NBC
app and NBCOlympics.com. Here's what to look for.
Tonga is back
Just like at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and the 2016 Games in Rio, one team stood out. For the third Olympics in a row, taekwondo athlete Pita Taufatofua of Tonga won the world's attention by marching shirtless, with an oiled-up chest and torso. (This was perhaps more awe-inspiring when he did it at the 2018 Winter Games, but it's still attention-grabbing.)
Things were a little different this year: Taufatofua wore a face mask, and he was joined by Malia Paseka, Tonga's first female Olympian to compete in taekwondo. He congratulated his teammate and fellow flag bearer.
"A special congratulations to our Flag Bearer, Malia Paseka," Taufatofua tweeted. "She did an amazing job leading the way for more participation of females and youth in sport in Tonga. So proud to walk along side our first ever female taekwondo Olympian!"
Fans were drawn to the Tonga team.
"Clearly the best pair of flag bearers in the Parade of Nations," wrote one Twitter user. "You both are amazing!"
Wrote another, "**BREAKING** TONGA HAS WON THE OLYMPICS. We can all go home now."
This year, Tonga wasn't alone in the oiled-up athlete arena. Rower Riilio Rii from Vanuatu also pulled off the shirtless and glossy look.
"Pita, we see you and we raise you," the official Olympics Twitter account wrote.
Now I know my ABCs?
The countries usually file into the stadium in alphabetical order. But when you watch this year, you may wonder if you even know the alphabet. That's because it's in the order used in Japan.
There are also some other variations. Greece, home of the original Olympics, leads the pack, followed by the Refugee Team, athletes from troubled countries who've mostly been training in Kenya. The USA marches in near the end, followed by France and then Japan, the host country. (If you want to follow along, Wikipedia has the order.)
Many who were expecting the teams to march in ABC order were thrown.
"This order is bonkers," wrote one Twitter user. "I clearly need to revisit the alphabet."
The various sports were also displayed by performers dressed in white and blue and dubbed "human pictograms," who re-create the icons used to depict each sport.
Wrote one Twitter user, "This live action Wii sports menu was unexpected but very much appreciated."
Said another, "Give the pictogram team a GOLD."
The opening ceremonies will be rebroadcast in the US on NBC at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT. The Olympics run through Aug. 8.