Forget the big choreographies, the immense props and the abundance of dancers, actors and lights associated with the ceremonies of opening of the Olympic Games, the grand opening of Tokyo on Friday it will have none of that splendor and grandeur.
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Instead, it will be a short, “sober” performance, veteran executive producer of opening ceremonies, and now senior adviser to executive producers at Tokyo ceremonies, Marco Balich, said in an interview with Reuters.
“It will be a much more sober ceremony. Still, with a beautiful Japanese aesthetic. Very Japanese, but also in sync with today’s feeling, reality,” said Balich.
“We have to do our best to complete this Olympics which I hope will be the only one of its kind.”
Covid-19 cases on the rise in Tokyo cast a huge shadow over the event, which, delayed last year because of the pandemic, will be held without a public.
Japan this month decided that competitions will be held in empty arenas and stadiums to minimize health risks.
So far, there have been more than 70 cases of Covid-19 infections in Japan among those accredited to the Games, since July 1, when many athletes and authorities began arriving.
This also affected the opening ceremony as many will arrive shortly before their competitions and leave shortly thereafter to avoid contact as much as possible.
Instead of 10,000 athletes marching in a packed stadium, as usual, the teams’ parade will be smaller, in a Tokyo Olympic stadium practically empty, except for a few hundred officials, and with strict rules of social distancing.
“There will be hundreds of marshals guiding the athletes through the parade. The opening ceremony, in a way, will be unique and will only focus on the athletes,” said Balich.
“This (the pandemic) certainly has consequences. Great choreography will obviously not happen because of Covid-19,” he said.
“The numbers in Rio were 12,600 athletes and officials in the parade. I’m afraid it will be lower this time. This already gives serious distance between athletes in the stadium,” said Balich, who also produced the ceremony for Rio 2016 and the Winter Olympics in Turin, among others.
“The Japanese team has to struggle between promoting their aesthetics and combining the fears and concerns associated with the Olympic Games with infections and disease.”
There is widespread concern among the public about how safe it is to put on a global sporting spectacle during the pandemic and many Japanese fear the Olympics could become a super-spreading event for the virus.
“I think the great achievement of the creative team at this ceremony is that they were able to accept that there will be empty seats and still focus on the athletes,” said Balich.
“It will be very significant, far from the grandeur of previous ceremonies. The time is now. It’s a beautiful effort. A very true and honest ceremony, nothing fake.”
“No smoke and mirrors. It will be about the things that are really happening these days,” he said.
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