Japan opening ceremony - what was their pre covid ceremony plan?

(26 Posts)
CoachBeach Sat 24-Jul-21 15:14:25

So they’ve changed their opening ceremony to fit covid and be socially distanced. It was sad to watch summing up the world and no spectators for it all is really sad. The bit with the solo dancer to commemorate those lost was haunting.

Are there any clips of what their original opening ceremony was planned to be from rehearsals etc?

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PinniGig Sat 24-Jul-21 15:34:14

Don't know but I was really surprised they didn't utilise and incorporate the empty seats into part of the ceremony i.e. use LED lighting, speakers and replicate the feel of an audience. It just fell so flat and came off as exactly like a group of performers in an empty stadium.

Real shame too sad

DollyMixtureLulus Sat 24-Jul-21 15:36:31

I think it was going to be really quirky and fun. The Mario inspired handover in Rio was hilarious.

I did find the beginning quite flat and then it did get going. So hard to strike the right tone in circumstances.

Lemonmelonsun Sat 24-Jul-21 16:27:52

I loved our opening ceremony but at first after the Danny Boyle build up I was a little critical.
After seeing some of the others shock
Yes I know its covid but with a scant knowledge of Japanese history I'm sure I could have done a better job.

ShadowInVain Sat 24-Jul-21 16:32:43

I thought what they did was really good in the circumstances. The right mix of traditional and modern cultural references, with acknowledgement of the tragic impact of Covid. Hopefully lots of people watched it around the world.

A brave decision to go ahead, too.

Nuggetnugget Sat 24-Jul-21 16:34:59

I loved the Pictogram part (near the end) it was amazing.
The feel of the empty was very apparent but they tried to bring a bit of life with the checkered dressed people clapping on the teams.

I feel they tried their very very best.

PinniGig Sat 24-Jul-21 17:04:10

My daughter speaks fluent Japanese and Chinese / Mandarin and has been really interested in all things about Japanese culture and history since she was in primary school so I asked what her take on the opening ceremony is and why it fell flat.

She quite rightly suggested Japan was caught between a rock and hard place and its inherent need for doing things both traditionally and respectfully meant that Covid, the ongoing culture of outraged and offended people and the flak Beijing got for including a large part of military history in its ceremony meant they were probably erring on the side of caution and would rather risk being boring (and able to put it down to Covid) than upsetting anyone more than they were already.

What made Bejing's opening so spectacular for me was the incredible use of its earliest traditions, the theme of the scroll going across the board and through the generations with it all it was superb. Japan has an equally fascinating history and is renowned for its ability to recover, adapt and renew itself in the face of adversity it's a shame they weren't able to reflect that in the opening.


PinniGig Sat 24-Jul-21 17:41:21

It does help to have an insider's knowledge and understanding of the finer details of things as well. Daughter watched the Beijing ceremony again last week and kept pausing the blocks to read what they said and intermittently pointed out which ones said what and words no longer even used but are still part and parcel of its origin.

Link should jump to the start of the blocks which apparently include the oldest and some redundant wording in the language but if not it's around the 30 minute mark.

Amazed me that they were given grief for the heavy military theme used it really did.

I thought Japan might have gone right back to its roots and traditions and expected even with the restrictions it would have blown it out the water because... well cos it's Japan. They have a habit of making the impossible happen almost without effort.


CoachBeach Sat 24-Jul-21 18:07:32

I really liked the drones bit and the pictogram worked really well as well. Yes doing something with the empty seats would have been a good idea. So sad that they can’t sell out their stadium tickets and they were stuck between putting on a good show and being respectful.

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CoachBeach Sat 24-Jul-21 18:08:11

China’s was always going to be good due to shear number of people involved and how well drilled they were.

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PinniGig Sat 24-Jul-21 18:40:27


China’s was always going to be good due to shear number of people involved and how well drilled they were.

True but Japan doesn't fall short when it comes to doing everything with military precision and to the best of ability.

After the Tsumani the country was practically back up and running within a week there's very few places able to really knuckle down, crack on and recover from the worst possible situations like Japan.

The lack of people for me wasn't the issue it was the lack of soul it had and I expected they would find a way around (as in using the seats to replicate a fully packed out stadium)

They still did the best job they could in the most unprecedented and difficult circumstances I just felt bad for them because they would ordinarily have probably wiped the floor.

AlexaShutUp Sat 24-Jul-21 18:44:45

I suspect that the whole thing had to be quite understated because there is so much opposition to going ahead with the games in the host nation. A big flamboyant ceremony wouldn't have gone down well at all in the current climate.

FeatheredHope Sat 24-Jul-21 18:45:36

I also appreciate they are stuck in a difficult position trying to strike the balance of respectful etc but I did feel it was really lacking in creativity. Which considering they had an extra year to work on with the potential restrictions they’d be facing is very strange to me.
For instance, the highlight for me was the drones - super clever and different, but if you’re going to get 2000 drones up and running, why only use them for 30 seconds?
Also who the hell thought the cover of Imagine was a good idea? Did they learn nothing from Gal Gadot at the beginning of the pandemic or was that where they desperately took inspiration from.

PinniGig Sat 24-Jul-21 19:19:06

There just seemed to be so much they could have done to reflect the natural beauty without much time, effort, expense or risk involved even with the restrictions.

I was expecting there to be things like cherry blossoms included either with petals dropped (like they did with the paper doves) or the stadium lights / projectors to suddenly become a full stunning display of brightly coloured pink and purple trees in full bloom.

Using bright blue lights to replicate sea fireflies on the shoreline would have looked spectacular too.

meido Sat 24-Jul-21 19:21:26


Don't know but I was really surprised they didn't utilise and incorporate the empty seats into part of the ceremony i.e. use LED lighting, speakers and replicate the feel of an audience. It just fell so flat and came off as exactly like a group of performers in an empty stadium.

Real shame too sad

Interesting you say that. I thought they did a really good job of intentional visual trickery to make it look as though there were spectators. Everyone on Twitter seemed to think it was really cleverly done!

AlexaShutUp Sat 24-Jul-21 19:25:14

I still think they were trying to tone it down in order to appease the domestic audience who didn't want it to happen.

DollyMixtureLulus Sat 24-Jul-21 19:27:55

It was cleverly done, but I felt it lacked a storyline or thread to tie it all together, and the videos broke away from the stadium too often.

PinniGig Sat 24-Jul-21 19:29:45

@meido Really? For me the silence was deafening after each performance that would normally have erupted with applause, cheers and have a wad of flashing lights from cameras and whatnot. The seats looked like folded unused seats throughout. The light reflected off them but you could still see they were flipped up and nobody sat in them.

I was really thinking any second they'd suddenly burst into light and life with something and give the people on the floor something back but it just never came. That's a rough ride and tough thing to do when you're out there rattling around an empty stadium.

Again not knocking it I just felt really bad for the performers especially during carpentry segment and reveal of the circles for the same reason.

AbsolutelyPatsy Sat 24-Jul-21 19:34:10

wasnt this a last minute ceremony, did the original ceremony get sacked two days before?

PinniGig Sat 24-Jul-21 19:38:49

Laughing now cos I remembered this someone in Japan thought was a belting idea for a toilet. Why didn't they roll in the designer of this thing to help out a faltering ceremony??


SomeKindOfFloppyWeirdo Sat 24-Jul-21 19:44:08


wasnt this a last minute ceremony, did the original ceremony get sacked two days before?

Yep, lots of news that the original creative team were sacked/quit/left due to scandal, so everything was put together by a rather… less imaginative team (I’m sure the people actually doing it were brilliant, but the “management” was quite controlling. It’s such a shame as the original plans sounded amazing.

CoachBeach Sun 25-Jul-21 20:17:26

@AbsolutelyPatsy do you know what the canned plans were?
I loved the wooden rings from the planted trees.

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FookSake Sun 25-Jul-21 20:17:50

@SomeKindOfFloppyWeirdo what we’re the original plans?

enjoyingscience Sun 25-Jul-21 20:22:18

I thought some bits were beautiful - the woman on the treadmill who was an athlete who didn’t make it to the games I found so so poignant. The trees made into Olympic Rings were stunning, and the drones were spectacular.

The kids have asked to rewatch the pictograms bit loads!

They were stuck, but I think they struck a nice tone with some parts, although I agree there was a fair bit of filler...

SomeKindOfFloppyWeirdo Sun 25-Jul-21 20:54:30

@CoachBeach @FookSake

I heard most things second hand through dh reading Japanese news (he’s Japanese) but this article seems to have most things he mentioned.


Although it doesn’t mention that Shiina Ringo (iconic rock/pop singer/guitarist/producer) was going to be involved, that would have been brilliant too.

I’ve never seen Akira but it would have been so apt!
“The plans included an homage to the 1988 animated feature film Akira, a particularly apt reference, given that the film was set in a futuristic Neo-Tokyo in 2019, amidst a pandemic ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.”

Having said that, people were saying Akira wasn’t very complimentary about the olympics which could have been awkward grin

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