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Tokyo 2020: Olympics – Day 1 – Opening Ceremonies

Release Date: July 23, 2021

Category: Podcast | Tokyo 2020

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are officially open! We talk about the highlights and low moments of this incredibly unique Opening Ceremonies. Plus, scores and updates from Day -1 — Jill already has a new officiating role she’d like to do!

Join in the fun – viewing guide, fantasy league, brackets and more at

Text us/Leave us a VM! 208-FLAME-IT (208) 352-6348.

Thanks so much for listening, and until tomorrow, keep the flame alive!


Note: This is an uncorrected machine-generated transcript. It contains errors. Please do not quote from the transcript; use the audio file as the record of note. If you would like to see transcripts that are more accurate, please support the show.

Jill: [00:00:00] Hello Olympics fans and lovers of TKFLASTAN, and welcome to Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast for fans of the Olympics and Paralympics. I am your host. Jill Jaracz joined as always by my lovely co-host Alison Brown. Alison. Hello, day one is over.

Alison: I don’t even know what day I’m in and it’s only day one is how can day one be over.

And I haven’t had lunch yet.

Jill: It’s weird. I’ve, I’ve lost all sense of space and time. I wanted dinner at about nine in the morning. It’s going to be, we’re going to get in shape past, I think.

Alison: Well, you know, I was reading about, um, someone posted in our Facebook group about a traditional Japanese breakfast, which is very dinnerish because there’s rice and miso soup and protein.

So I’m thinking that can work at any time of day. Okay. So now I’ll just have rice and miso soup at three o’clock in the morning. When I’m up watching swimming.

Jill: There you go. All right. Opening ceremonies, big show. It happened. The flame is lit. What did you think?

Alison: So, so many pieces, and it did not feel like a smaller show, which was nice.


Jill: know, for me, I, again, there were a lot of pieces. I really felt. There was no one big, huge cultural event. True.

Alison: I wonder if, you know, they had that whole first while they had the sec, the section that was all white and then the section with the wood. And I wonder if they just did those sections with fewer people maybe than they would have done

Jill: otherwise.

So it started off with a kind of a montage of Tokyo getting the games and then we move forward year to year, and then we hit 2020 and everything shuts down. And then they had the. The field of the stadium, different athletes training alone, or trying to train alone. And I thought that was very moving and they kind of evolved with more performers and kind of tying them together with light.

And it looked like string, but I don’t think it was string. Well, there were

Alison: actual strings and then there were projected strings. So it had a, a three-dimensional, uh, aspect to it. So

Jill: I thought that was a really nice touch to the situation that we’re in. It, it moved on to, uh, uh, tap dance number. I love

Alison: tap dancing.

I adore tap dancing and I’m like, I didn’t know, the Japanese were into tap dancing, but they were fantastic. The whole dance number was really fantastic.

Jill: I thought it was interesting. It was, it was one of those non to the workers numbers. And I didn’t quite understand it, but it was tap dancing, so it was kind of fun.

And then they brought out, um, Olympic rings made out of wood that was grown from seeds, born by athletes at the 1964 Olympic. Which I thought was a really nice touch. And it’s, it’s one of those details that I think the Japanese organizing committee was going to be very good at, in the nod back to when they hosted again in 1964.

So I thought that was very cool. Once we get the rings in the stadium, pop singer Mysia saying the Japanese national Anthem in that big white dress,

Alison: how many Muppets died for that dress?

Jill: Oh, I thought it was interesting. So I think, uh, uh, bookclub Claire mentioned on Twitter that it looked like the NBC peacock gave up its

Alison: life restriction.

I thought she was wearing sort of the dress version of the seven 11 slushies shelf. I loved it. I thought it was fantastic because you know, you are one person on this, in this enormous stadium on this grand stage where the slushie.

Jill: Right. It was a big white. And then the bottom in the folds, every fold was a different color.

Along the, along the bottom hem, it made a statement parade of nations. This I, it was, it was

Alison: weird. I have the parade of nations, I think was the most disappointing part because the teams were so tiny and they didn’t do the full. Walk of the track. They sort of came up the middle. Clearly they shortened the walk and no fans.

I mean, the volunteers tried so hard to make it exciting, but it, it just didn’t have the gravitas or the excitement.

Jill: No. And the whole thing really looked like a dress rehearsal [00:05:00] because you could, and even though the, the new stadium. Has seats that look like they’re filled, you could really tell they were empty at nighttime.

Yes. It just was really that part was said. Um, I agree, volunteers. I loved their

Alison: outfit. I need one of those, those hand. Moomoos those incredibly comfortable to watch all the Olympics in.

Jill: They were very, uh, cool looking and they also looked like they kept people. Yes, nice touch on that.

Alison: It was nice to be able to hear the teams cheering each other.

And for themselves, Mike, Terico really enjoyed that. The NBC announcer, he really enjoyed when, um, Argentina came out with their big show and Italy came out. He really enjoyed when the teams got excited, which was funny. He was so excited to be there.

Jill: Yeah, I was. Favorite uniforms?

Alison: Um, well I loved the British Virgin islands of all.

They had these beautiful dresses with each of the islands portrayed on the dress, which I thought was very striking. And then there were several African countries that had, you know, the beautiful prints and the, the wonderful, um, you know, they really went for like the miss universe, costume parade style.

I enjoy that it’s sprinkled in.

Jill: Right. You know, it seemed like there was a definite distinction between countries who were more formal attire and countries who wore athletic attire. So

Alison: many ankle pants, so many ankle pants. I definitely have a least favorite though.

Jill: It prompts to Ireland for Boeing to the host stick.

Alison: That was so sweet.

Jill: And, uh, yeah, least favorite Belgium. Oh day Mike Drigo. Okay. So Mike Trico like the print, I thought it was a bit much when it covered your whole body.

Alison: Well, here was the problem. The Belgian men had like suits, right? And the Belgian women had these ridiculous tablecloths with like a sport, you know, like, uh, a golf shirt and again, ankle pants.

So either do one or the other. It was very schizophrenia, sick, and neither one was particularly interesting. And see,

Jill: I thought most of the, the uniforms were pretty. You had some very nice ones and very nice elements to it, but they were pretty like not normal to be safe, safe. It was safe, but beautiful.

And a lot of them, and then Latvia walked in. Okay.

Alison: These

Jill: shining silver dresses. And it was just like, where did, and where did that come from? The sad thing was for here and us here in the United States. That was also during an ad break where they were doing side-by-side coverage. So Latvia was delegated to like part of the screen.

It was just like, what are they wearing? So it was like, uh, shift dresses that were silver LeMay and then a little jacket over them. And then Luxembourg walked in, not that long after with like this iridescent hologram with these big, long coats with a hood, like a long hoodie that was. Iridescent.

Alison: Yeah.

France had a long coat as well, which I assume was more like a very thin, it wasn’t really a coat. It was the equivalent of, you know, a linen blazer, but it, it, it made me think it was, it looked hot.

Jill: Okay. Okay. A lot of yellow. There was a lot of bright yellow. I can’t

Alison: remember. And I did not make a note of who the country was, yellow and green, and they looked like the height, the highlighter aisle in

Jill: staples, lots of red and white.


Alison: thought Sweden had Fanny packs.

Jill: Oh, did they?

Alison: Oh no, excuse me. It was Ukraine. I was thinking the light blue in yellow.

Jill: There. Where

Alison: you crane had the Fanny pack and some had them on their shoulders and some had them around their waists.

Jill: Okay. I thought there was an athlete from Poland who did the right thing.

She had the walked in with the fan opened that said Polska. So you knew who she wants. I think she’s always going to find herself on the screen when she goes back to look at it,

Alison: you know, sorta like what John McCloud did with his different color shoes.

Jill: Right, right, right. Speaking of shoes, did you see Turkey shoes?

They had really sharp ones.

Alison: Oh, now I gotta go back and look at the shoes. I was not paying attention to shoes. I would be, I will be honest on that one.

Jill: They had fancy wingtips that were red and white and they just, they looked sharp. I thought who I really loved though, was a. [00:10:00] Kiribas and Kyrgyzstan who had, Kiribas had the Mount Fuji with the cherry blossoms.

Yes. And Kyrgyzstan also had some cherry blossom style it’s

Alison: cure. Sunhats the traditional, it sort of looks like a mountain, actually, the shape of that hat filled, that would be hot. I hope they took those off once they got into.

Jill: USA had individualized mask, custom mask. Cause they had their names on them too

Alison: bad.

Too many of them took them off. Right. So in the, in the U S coverage, obviously after all the athletes come in, there’s a lot of speeches. So during the speeches, you can do a talking head or you show shots of the athletes. And every time they showed a team USA athlete, that athlete was not wearing his or her name.

Jill: Right or pulled it down, just melt it down.

Alison: Most of them had just clearly taken it off. And then about halfway through somebody told the producers stop showing team USA, not wearing their masks. And they only show team USA athletes still wearing their masks.

Jill: I saw on inside the games, they blocked that a couple of other countries just were not, did not have very many masks to people.

So, Hm, that’s

Alison: disappointing.

Jill: It is. It is. Uh, what did you think of the dual flag bearers for most countries? Not all

Alison: right. I assume a few countries didn’t have both because they have so such small contingents. And also now with the, um, you can only come when your competition is a few countries mentioned they had named two flag bearers, but there was only one.

So I assumed that was the reason I liked it.

Jill: I thought it was interesting because most, and not until we got to Brazil, did we find a way to carry that flag with both people? Because it was like they tried to walk with it together that didn’t really work. Somebody would take it. Then the other person would grab it from them, but for had one person with the pole and one person holding the flag out.

And I thought that was really smart. That

Alison: was interesting. And it was also very funny. They clearly did not countries didn’t think of the practicality. So occasionally you would have like a male volleyball player and like the female Coxon and I’m like, she’s sort of balancing the bottom or vice versa.

You know, sometimes it was a female volleyball player and like the tiniest male weight lifters at the height difference was quite dramatic. So that was sweet. But I think the idea it made the parade of nations feel a little bit more like the closing ceremony.

Jill: Mm. Hmm. That makes sense. It

Alison: was not a bad thing because there’s so much joy in that.

And given that this was a strange opening ceremony to begin with, add a little more joy. Did

Jill: you see that there was a ship plus Donnie who was a flying bear?

Alison: Oh, did I miss? That

Jill: has again relegated to the side during an ad Felicity pass on, was the fly bear for Seychelles?

Alison: I didn’t even see her. Oh, now I got to go back and rewatch

Jill: and I was like, that’s full this city.

She got to tuck carry the flag. It was so exciting because, because it wasn’t

Alison: identified and it was so tiny. Nice good on you for catching it.

Jill: So that was very exciting. I think I also saw Marnie McBean with the Canada delegation. Yes, she was

Alison: there. She has been Instagramming, so she was, uh, she did March.

Jill: Excellent. Excellent. So then once all the, everybody got in, they had a little more. Performance element where they, uh, had performers moving blocks around and that forms the logo. I saw

Alison: those box and I saw the blue and I sit there going to do the logo in 3d. I got so excited.

Jill: I thought that was very cool.

And they had the old, then they had the new Olympic logo. Faster higher, stronger together, which couldn’t put that out there. Fast enough projected on the floor of the stadium. It was kind of interesting how they use the floor of the stadium for projecting light. They projected doves onto the floors at different times.

Um, then they had this big drone thing where 1800 drones, uh, came up over the stadium and made a globe, which was that, that was pretty cool and

Alison: sure, much cooler in person.

Jill: Yeah, I bet it was

Alison: cooler in person. I immediately thought there’s no way we can do that. Offer over Los Angeles because you know, all the Americans are going to call 9 1, 1 saying there’s an, there’s an alien ship forming the shape of a globe over LA.

Jill: Then we had the singing of imagine, which, you know, a listener David on Twitter was saying, oh, I bet they’re going to do imagine this was yes. I said, no. Can you not, can you imagine, imagine all the people and there’s nobody there and it’s just like, they can’t do that. And yet they

Alison: did. And yet they did.

And really [00:15:00] Keith urban is who you get for Oceana. Really?

Jill: So I got to say, I know people love that song. It strikes a chord with many people. It is getting right up there with amazing grace. For me, I don’t like amazing grace. I’m not a fan of imagine anymore. I think it’s overdone and this is not the first Olympics that they’ve used that song.

So can we find something different? Imagine there are no countries. Why would you do that? When you have a country-based thing? Anyhow, long boring speeches, a LA te Bach man put every soundbite into one.

Alison: He was not kidding around when he wrote that speech, he was like, I am going to hit you over the head with every cliche about these Olympics.

Jill: And it was long. He could have chopped off a few minutes,

Alison: but I will give him credit. In terms of the passion of his speech, he was feeling it, he had something to, he really wanted to communicate.

Jill: Then we had what I thought was the best part of the games. Absolutely. The pictogram number, but, uh, put together by a hero upon who is, uh, a big artist in Japan where the, the big thing with the pictograms a, they were developed first for the games for Tokyo in 1964 in Tokyo 2020, the, the new innovation is that they are kinetic and then they brought that kinetic to life.

At the opening ceremonies and did every pictogram,

Alison: it was brilliant and so much fun to watch. And he only made one mistake, mistake. It was the handoff of the tennis racket. And I panicked for him. Cause you know how many times they, they were Hurst that so much. And then he dropped you. He could hear him cursing in Japanese through that helmet he was wearing.

I could feel it, but that was so much fun.

Jill: It was, I want to watch it again and again, that one of the best opening ceremony, ceremonies moments ever, I think because it is it’s part of the game. And, and so much of the ceremonies is kind of showcasing the host country and welcoming you to the games. But this was really, let’s take an element of the games and make it very joyful

Alison: yet.

I don’t think you’d see that in another host country, like there was something anime about it. It felt very Japanese culture to it as well. So that was a nice bridge of it is clearly part of the Olympics, but it’s also clearly symbolic of Tokyo.

Jill: The Olympic flag came in. Saying the Anthem, they had a Kabuki element and they had a jazz pianist who Romi performed, which was really beautiful piano.

Also not fooling around. No, no. And Japanese love jazz music. So it was really great to hear that then. And what we missed in America was the oath and we missed the. Awarding of the Olympic Laurel. So that was during one of our commercial breaks. Then it was time for the flame. And it, you know, I got to say by the time the flame came in, I didn’t realize how long much time had passed.

It really felt like a short ceremony to me, I think

Alison: because the parade of nations was so much shorter than it normally is. And the cultural program was truncated in the sense of, I think there was fewer people. Felt smaller,

Jill: right. It really did. It really did. And who lit the cauldron? They only Osaka.

Alison: I was so confused by that really a little bit.

I mean, I know they were, it reminded me obviously of when Cathy Freeman lit the cauldron back in Sydney because you have a, a current competing athlete, but that. Really surprised me. I given all the callbacks to 64, I thought they would have done something connecting the two more. Hmm.

Jill: With the cauldron.

There were elements of 64 in the run-up I believe. Yes. But, you know, I wonder if, uh, Naomi Osaka was chosen also because she’s got worldwide recognition and so many of the other. Parts of the people in this relay were famous in Japan, but not necessarily recognizable and other parts of.

Alison: What’d you think of the culture in itself?

Jill: I think the color and it’s beautiful. It was, it looked like it was on Mount Fuji. And then the top was a ball that opened up as a flower and the flame is in it. I still am very conflicted over the cauldron that is out in a venue or public space versus cauldron on top of the stadium [00:20:00] to be seen around the.

Alison: Oh, so the co so that culture is staying inside the national

Jill: stadium. Oh no, I think they’re supposed to move it to the big public square facility. That’s got a whole bunch of venues around it and my venues, I mean, it’s like the urban park type thing where like, I think sport climbing and some of the, the, uh, streets type sports are there, but it was as big open public square type area that people could come and gather with.

Now because they’re not allowed, but the cauldron I believe is moving there and that’s kind of a continuation of what Rio did. And I believe Vancouver also had their calls run on the ground as well. So I get that element and it’s kind of cool to have the flame around the people. When they were allowed to go and let them be close to it.

But I, from when I went to salt lake city, it was always kind of something too, you drive around and you’d be like, oh, I see the flame

Alison: from the light, the cauldron in the sky element.

Jill: Yeah. So I don’t know. I don’t know. I would love to see the cauldron down on the ground and see what I think of it. But I just from, I don’t know, it’s not as majestic on TV.

I don’t think true.

Alison: You can’t get that sweeping aerial shot going across. Did you notice that the shape of the flame was weird? Like it was very, it looked very, um, narrow and pointy to me rather than, you know, the, you think of the cauldron as more open and bowl burning. Right. This was very focused sort of candle, like.

So, I don’t know if that was just because it was first lit or because that center of the flower is quite narrow interesting. But the inside of the flower with all the mirrors, so clearly that’s going to reflect yeah. All over the place.

Jill: That yet, that is very beautiful. The Olympic cauldron was designed by Sato Oki and it’s, it uses a sun as a motif.

So yes, that reflection of the sun and the flame. That’s very cool. As we noted, not very many people there inside the games believed that there were about 6,000 stakeholders and guests of honor, about 1500 broadcasters and about 2000 per. At the stadium,

Alison: which makes you realize how many people are normally there.

I mean, because that is what almost 10,000 people and it felt completely empty. And yet how many people, I mean, this, that stadium could hold, what was it? 68,000. They said, I think, yeah. And that’s on top of all these people that they’re talking about. So, and I know Rio is even bigger.

Jill: Right. You know, who probably was.

The premier of Queensland, Australia, Anastasia palace, Shea, because did you

Alison: see this? I saw it because you, you posted it and shared it with me and I’m like, Anastasia.

Jill: Oh, so. After Brisbane was announced as the host of the 20, 32 games, there was a little press conference and, uh, Palo Shay apparently said she was going to be kind of there for the bid and in her hotel and not go anywhere.

John coats, IOC vice-president. Head of the Australian national, uh, Australian Olympic committee. And had you worked on this bid he’s head of the, uh, Tokyo organizing committee commission. Uh, so he’s a very big wig and he said, oh no, no, no, you’re going to the opening ceremonies. You’ve never been to an opening ceremonies.

You have to see all the protocol and all the pomp and circumstance and, and basically said, You’ve got to know what this is, because it costs 75 to a hundred million dollars and you could kind of see you, like, she must’ve been glad to wear a mask because you could see her eyes widening a little bit there, but it sounded like in the clips you saw that he was very bullying and he looked like he was very satisfied with himself and it was just like, I just got exactly what I wanted with this bid.

I get to tell everybody what to do now. And then he, of course, was not happy with the press coverage of him bullying the prime, the premier and said, oh no, no, you got that all wrong. I don’t know. But what sticks out to me is that’s a lot of money to be spending on an opening ceremonies and how much sadly for D for Tokyo, how much of that went by the wayside because so much had to get to.

Alison: Right. That, that it was spent, but not utilized. Right? Right. So on that vein, there was two things that I wanted to note about the opening ceremonies. And I thought it was very interesting in a lot of the show [00:25:00] parts that given a lot of things that we’ve talked about with uncle Yoshi and now John codes, they put women in the fictional roles of authority.

So that too. There was a conductor. It was a woman. There was the construction manager in that wooden sequence. It was a woman. They had this little funny sequence supposedly happening in the broadcast booth where this guy is pressing all the buttons and make the lights come on. His boss comes in, it was a woman.

And I said, that was not unintentional.

Jill: Right. And I wonder how that’s received. The host country.

Alison: I think they noticed it. I hope they noticed it. And I think they were trying to make a point. And, and I think that was very subtle, but clear enough. Right, right, right. And the other moment that made my jaw drop was the reference to the, the victims of the terrorist attacks and Munich.

We totally forgot.

Jill: That was one of the first things. Yes. Jaw dropping the victims have wanted the victims. Families have wanted a moment at the opening ceremonies ever since it happened and they got it. And it was, I have no words because it meant so much, it

Alison: was so beautifully done because it wasn’t, we’re going to honor the 72 victims.

It was so organic. Yes. And I thought what was interesting was Mike Terico made the point that Thomas Bach is a contemporary of 19, the 1972 Olympics. And, and, and that he’s been pushing for something. And that’s the opposite of what we’ve kind of been hearing that the IOC as a, as a unit has been very much against it, but it sounds like Thomas Bach as a person, rather than the IOC president wanted to make this house.


Jill: And it, it really was organic and it was very touching and honored a very tough time, very tough games and, and something that really devastated people’s lives. So it I’m, I’m very glad that that happened. I’m very curious if it will happen in future ceremonies. I hope they still get that moment because we should not forget that.

Alison: Absolutely. But I, I literally was sitting there with my mouth hanging open.

Jill: Right. It finally happened. Yeah. Anything else. That’s all my notes. Excellent. If you won at opening ceremonies, bingo postcards in our Facebook group, or email them to The first three who do so we’ll have we’ll look at timestamps.

Uh, we’ll send you a little pin, uh, some score updates from day minus one of competition, uh, softball, the USA, Canada, one to nothing that I watched that game. And that was, that was good, man. That was a close game. To tough competitive teams, Japan beat Mexico, three to two Australia, be Italy, one to zero. Um, in men’s football, Egypt, and Spain had a ties.

Zero, zero New Zealand, B Korea won nothing. Uh, Mexico beat France four to one. I watched that game.

Alison: Oh, did you? How was it? I had no idea. I don’t know anything about football and my daughter was making fun of me. She said, oh, we’re watching soccer now. I’m like, it’s the Olympics. I watch soccer. And there was scuffles.

Ooh. Yes. That,

Jill: mm beat the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Two to one Australia. Beat Argentina. Two to nothing. Uh, Romania beat Honduras, one to nothing, Japan beat South Africa, one to zero and Brazil, Germany, four to two. Then, uh, archery had ranking rounds for the individual men’s and women’s competition. And of note, uh, sound on, got an Olympic record with a score of six 80.

So the, I am looking forward to watching archery over the next coming days. Intense. And then, uh, rowing had a whole bunch of heats, uh, for men’s and women’s singles doubles and quadruple skulls. I watched a little bit of the quadruples and it was interesting to watch everybody roll. I do like watching rowing it’s very, I think it’s very tranquil and.

And I found my new officiating and my officiating job that I want is holding the boat at the end. I think we’ve mentioned this before, when we talked. Yes. But again, I saw that it was like, yep, I do. I want to hold the, hold the boat at the end, before they start the race.

Alison: So for day two, six, Donnie, watch Melissa tab.

We’ll be starting mixed doubles [00:30:00] tomorrow and team USA softball with our coach Laura Berg. We’ll be in action again, ex.

Jill: All right. Well, it’s time to take a little nap and get then get back to the action. Thank you so much for listening. Hey, be in touch with us. You can give us a call at two zero eight.

Flame it. You can leave a voicemail. That’s too, or text we’d love to get your test texts. That’s 2 0 8 3 5. 6 3, 4, 8. Uh, you can also email and, uh, we’re on Twitter. I’m on Twitter at flame alive pod. Allison’s on instant at play melodic pod. We’ve got a Facebook group going that is happen with fun.

So join us all there. And, uh, until. Thank you so much for listening and keep the flame alive. .