TOKYO — Friday brings what is usually a celebratory highlight of any Olympic Games, the opening ceremony. The pageantry, speeches and the athlete parade will play out as usual, but very likely without the zest and excitement of a typical Olympics.
Most notably, the stands will be virtually empty, and the athletes of the world will be waving to television cameras rather than a stadium full of fans and dignitaries.
To top it off, whatever spectacle is planned will be undercut because Kentaro Kobayashi, the creative director of the ceremony, was dismissed Thursday after video emerged of him making fun of the Holocaust.
In the United States, NBC has typically held the broadcast of the ceremony until the evening, but this year it can be seen live at 6:55 a.m. Eastern. The traditional tape-delayed prime time showing is at 7:30 p.m., and there’s a third chance to see it for night owls at 1:38 a.m. Saturday.
Friday is officially Day 0 of the Olympic Games, and while there isn’t a lot of athletic competition to go with the opening ceremony, there is a little more than zero.
Archers will have their qualifying day to determine the seedings when the competition proper begins. And there will be preliminary heats in some rowing events.
Take a breath. A deluge of sports, from table tennis to yachting, is coming for 18 straight days starting on Saturday.