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A treadmill runner and a viral flag bearer: The 8 key moments from the Olympics opening ceremony.

It might be a year later, but the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games have finally begun. 

Last night, the 17-day event kicked off with hundreds of athletes marching through the Olympic Stadium. 

This year's opening ceremony was quite different to those before – there were no crowds, everyone wore masks, and it was a pretty sombre event, reflecting on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Watch: Things you never say in 2021. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia.

If you missed the whole thing or couldn't quite make it through all four hours, here are eight key moments from the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony.

1. The treadmill girl.

The beginning of the ceremony depicted athletes training alone after the Games were postponed in 2020. There were three main athletes – one on a rower, one on a bike and one on a treadmill. 

Image: Getty.

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It was later revealed the woman on the treadmill was Arisa Tsubata, a Japanese boxer who was training to qualify for the Tokyo Games. 

However, when the boxing qualifier was cancelled because of the pandemic, and places in the Olympics were allocated based on world rankings, the nurse missed out.

2. The moment of silence.

The opening ceremony later paused for a moment of silence to remember the lives that were lost due to COVID-19, and those killed at the 1972 Munich Games.

Image: Getty.

Relatives of the victims from the Israeli Olympic team have long asked for them to be remembered in opening ceremonies, but until now the International Olympic Committee has refused.

3. Australia's entrance.

It was the moment many of us stayed up late for: to see the Australian team march into the Olympic Stadium in green and gold. 

Australia's first pair of flag bearers – four-time Olympic swimmer Cate Campbell and Australia's first Indigenous flag-bearer, basketball player Patty Mills – led the way, followed by 63 proud athletes waving smaller Australian flags.

Image: Getty.

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4. Naomi Osaka lighting the Olympic flame.

Tennis superstar Naomi Osaka – who withdrew from the French Open earlier this year, citing mental health struggles – stole the show by lighting the cauldron with the Olympic torch.

Image: Getty.

Afterwards, she said it was "the greatest athletic achievement and honour I will ever have in my life".

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She added on Twitter: "I have no words to describe the feelings I have right now, but I do know I am currently filled with gratefulness and thankfulness."

5. The pictograms.

At the Olympics, there are over 50 pictograms – the little symbols that identify each sport. During the opening ceremony, a group of dancers brought them to life.

Dressed in blue and white, the dancers physically demonstrated each sport in a hilarious routine accompanied by music. If there's anything we recommend you watch back, it's this.

Image: Getty.

6. Keith Urban's cameo.

During the ceremony, the Suginami Junior Chorus performed a rendition of John Lennon's Imagine, which was co written by Yoko Ono, who was born in Tokyo.

Then Keith Urban made a virtual appearance representing Oceania, alongside Angelique Kidjo, Alejandro Sanz and John Legend.

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7. The impressive drones.

While there were no crowds inside Olympic Stadium, the 1,800 drones flying above it made everyone feel included. As Tokyo is currently under a state of emergency, there was little opportunity for locals to celebrate the start of the Games. 

Therefore, the drones flew above the stadium, creating a 3D display of patterns – including a globe and the Olympic emblem.

Image: Getty.

8. The shirtless flag bearer.

No one could forget this moment. Pita Taufatofua carried the flag shirtless and oiled up for the third time during the Tokyo opening ceremony. 

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Image: Getty.

Feature Image: Getty.

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