Tokyo Olympics 2021 opening ceremony: order and flag bearers by country

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The Tokyo Olympics will officially start Friday, July 23 with the traditional Opening Ceremony a year after having been canceled due to the global pandemic. While the International Olympic Committee establishes a very strict format for these sports events, the empty stadium, as well as the implementation of two representatives per nation will differentiate this year’s proceedings in Tokyo.

Follow the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics live

Opening Ceremony: When and Where?

The Opening Ceremony, which is meant to last four hours, will be held at 7:00 a.m. ET. Friday, July 23. The event will take place at the new National Stadium in Tokyo, which opened last year and will also be hosting several sports such as soccer and the track and field competition. Tokyo is 13 hours ahead of the East Coast.

How to watch the Opening Ceremonies on television?

NBC will be airing the event live beginning on 6:55 a.m ET, July 23. However, for those who missed the ceremonies, NBC will also tape delay at 7:30 p.m. ET on the same day.

A journey through time

Each Opening Ceremony has a theme selected by the host country. During the “Parade of Nations”, the host country’s goal is to represent their cultural identity and to show the world their place in society.

Ceremonies have been around since The greek Ancient Games, from ca. 776 BC to ca. 393 AD. But it wasn’t until approximately the 77th Olympiad that they established a standard 18-event program and an Inauguration festival to celebrate the start of the Games. This festival was followed by a ceremony where athletes took an oath to sportsmanship, to end with an artistic competition of trumpeters and heralds.

However, it wasn’t until the Stockholm Games in 1912 when the artistic version of the opening ceremonies that we are most familiar with, was first implemented by Coubertin.

The International Olympic Committee says tradition dictates that the parade should be in alphabetical order, according to the host country’s language, with the exception of Greece, which since 1928 opens the parade due to historical reasons, and the host country which will bring up the gear.

Since the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, opening ceremonies continue to increase in many ways such as scale, complexity and expense. This growth is reflected in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics where for the first time we will see an opening ceremony staged across two stadiums.

Another very important change is the fact that starting with Tokyo 2021 we will see for the first time two flag bearers representing both genders. This decision was made by the Olympic Committee to fight against gender inequalities. The IOC has always worked towards gender equality. In 1900, 22 women were seen for the first time participating in the Olympics, 118 years after, the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires became the first fully gender-balanced Olympic event in history.

Opening Ceremony: Safety Restrictions

A year after having been canceled because of the global pandemic, Olympic Games return, but still with strict restrictions due to increasing cases in the host country. No fans will be allowed at the Olympic events nor at the opening and closing ceremonies this year, an aspect that will drastically change the atmosphere of all the events not only for competitors but also for those who watch it from their homes.

Sponsors first officials which are usually seen in the Olympic’s opening will not be attending this year’s ceremony either. The companies cited the no-attendance policy at most of the Games’ venues and the need to prevent their executives from contracting the novel coronavirus. Even Japan’s three major business groups have also decided to skip the Opening Ceremony.

Officials revealed that just 950 people were expected to attend. Among whom will be officials, journalists, performers and athletes taking part of the Olympic Games.

Even if athletes are not obligated to take the vaccine, IOC has tried to persuade all countries to get their athletes vaccinated in solidarity with the host country. Around 80% of attendants have already been vaccinated.

Who are the U.S. flag bearers?

The US team will be the third-to-last parade to enter the stadium, two spots before Japan. This positioning reminds spectators that US will be hosting 2028 Los Angeles Olympics. France, which will be host nation for the Olympic Games in 2024 will enter behind the US, a spot ahead of Japan.

American flag bearers will be women representative Sue Bird (women’s basketball) and Men’s representative Eddy Alvarez (baseball, though he won a silver medal in short-track speedskating at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics).

Bird and Alvarez will be wearing Ralph Lauren outfits which include a self-regulating cooling system designed by the brand. Summer temperatures in Tokyo often reach 90 °F.

Who are TPE, ISV, KOS and more? Tokyo 2020 Olympics country codes explained

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The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are finally underway after a year-long delay due to the Covid-19 pandemic. No spectators are permitted in any of the venues used in the event after Japan declared a state of emergency in the country due to rising cases of the virus.

However, there is still opportunity for fans to cheer on their nation at home with over 11,300 athletes looking to win a medal for their team this summer.

There are representatives for all 206 countries in the Olympic village in Tokyo ranging from Belgium to Taiwan (Chinese Taipei) and Sweden to Uzbekistan.

Most viewers are aware of who GBR, AUS, USA, GER and NED are associated with, but do you know who TPE, ISV and KOS are used for?

Fear not, without further ado, Birmingham Live breaks down each country’s Olympic code at this summer’s Games and to make it even better, it’s in alphabetical order.

Afghanistan - AFG

Albania - ALB

Algeria - ALG

American Samoa - ASA

Andorra - AND

Angola - ANG

Antigua and Barbuda - ANT

Argentina - ARG

Armenia - ARM

Aruba - ARU

Australia - AUS

Austria - AUT

Azerbaijan - AZE

Bahamas - BAH

Bahrain - BRN

Bangladesh - BAN

Barbados - BAR

Belarus - BLR

Belgium - BEL

Belize - BIZ

Bermuda - BER

Benin - BEN

Bhutan - BHU

Bolivia - BOL

Bosnia and Herzegovina - BIH

Botswana - BOT

Brazil - BRA

The British Virgin Islands - IVB

Brunei - BRU

Bulgaria - BUL

Burkina Faso - BUR

Burundi - BDI

Cambodia - CAM

Cameroon - CMR

Canada - CAN

Cape Verde - CPV

Cayman Islands - CAY

Central African Republic - CAF

Chad - CHA

Chile - CHI

China - CHN

Colombia - COL

Comoros - COM

Congo, Republic of the - CGO

Congo, Democratic Republic of the - COD

The Cook Islands - COK

Costa Rica - CRC

Cote d’Ivoire - CIV

Croatia - CRO

Cuba - CUB

Cyprus - CYP

Czech Republic - CZE

Denmark - DEN

Djibouti - DJI

Dominica - DMA

The Dominican Republic - DOM

East Timor (Timor-Leste) - TLS

Ecuador - ECU

Egypt - EGY

El Salvador - ESA

Equatorial Guinea - GEQ

Eritrea - ERI

Estonia - EST

Ethiopia - ETH

Fiji - FIJ

Finland - FIN

France - FRA

Gabon - GAB

The Gambia - GAM

Georgia - GEO

Germany - GER

Ghana - GHA

Greece - GRE

Grenada - GRN

Guam - GUM

Guatemala - GUA

Guinea - GUI

Guinea-Bissau - GBS

Guyana - GUY

Haiti - HAI

Honduras - HON

Hong Kong - HKG

Hungary - HUN

Iceland - ISL

India - IND

Indonesia - INA

Iran - IRI

Iraq - IRQ

Ireland - IRL

Israel - ISR

Italy - ITA

Jamaica - JAM

Japan - JPN

Jordan - JOR

Kazakhstan - KAZ

Kenya - KEN

Kiribati - KIR

Korea, North (PDR of Korea) - PRK

Korea, South - KOR

Kosovo - KOS

Kuwait - KUW

Kyrgyzstan - KGZ

Laos - LAO

Latvia - LAT

Lebanon - LIB

Lesotho - LES

Liberia - LBR

Libya - LBA

Liechtenstein - LIE

Lithuania - LTU

Luxembourg - LUX

Macedonia - MKD

Madagascar - MAD

Malawi - MAW

Malaysia - MAS

The Maldives - MDV

Mali - MLI

Malta - MLT

Marshall Islands - MHL

Mauritania - MTN

Mauritius - MRI

Mexico - MEX

Micronesia - FSM

Moldova - MDA

Monaco - MON

Mongolia - MGL

Montenegro - MNE

Morocco - MAR

Mozambique - MOZ

Myanmar (Burma) - MYA

Namibia - NAM

Nauru - NRU

Nepal - NEP

Netherlands - NED

New Zealand - NZL

Nicaragua - NCA

Niger - NIG

Nigeria - NGR

Norway - NOR

Oman - OMA

Pakistan - PAK

Palau - PLW

Palestine - PLE

Panama - PAN

Papua New Guinea - PNG

Paraguay - PAR

Peru - PER

Philippines - PHI

Poland - POL

Portugal - POR

Puerto Rico - PUR

Qatar - QAT

Romania - ROU

Russian Federation - RUS

Rwanda - RWA

Saint Kitts and Nevis - SKN

Saint Lucia - LCA

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines - VIN

Samoa - SAM

San Marino - SMR

Sao Tome and Principe - STP

Saudi Arabia - KSA

Senegal - SEN

Serbia - SRB

Seychelles - SEY

Sierra Leone - SLE

Singapore - SIN

Slovakia - SVK

Slovenia - SLO

Solomon Islands - SOL

Somalia - SOM

South Africa - RSA

Spain - ESP

Sri Lanka - SRI

Sudan - SUD

Suriname - SUR

Swaziland - SWZ

Sweden - SWE

Switzerland - SUI

Syria - SYR

Taiwan (Chinese Taipei) - TPE

Tajikistan - TJK

Tanzania - TAN

Thailand - THA

Togo - TOG

Tonga - TGA

Trinidad and Tobago - TRI

Tunisia - TUN

Turkey - TUR

Turkmenistan - TKM

Tuvalu - TUV

Uganda - UGA

Ukraine - UKR

United Arab Emirates - UAE

United Kingdom (Great Britain) - GBR

United States - USA

Uruguay - URU

Uzbekistan - UZB

Vanuatu - VAN

Venezuela - VEN

Vietnam - VIE

Virgin Islands - ISV

Yemen - YEM

Zambia - ZAM

Zimbabwe - ZIM

Belarus leader vows to keep up raids of NGOs, media outlets

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FILE - In this Friday, July 9, 2021 file photo, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko addresses members of Belarus National Olympic team ahead of the… FILE - In this Friday, July 9, 2021 file photo, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko addresses members of Belarus National Olympic team ahead of the Summer Olympics Games in Tokyo, Minsk, Belarus. Belarus’ authorities on Monday July 19, 2021, raided offices of an independent newspaper and detained three of its journalists as part of a continuing crackdown on media outlets and civil society activists. (Maxim Guchek/BelTA Pool Photo via AP, File)

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — The longtime leader of Belarus vowed Thursday to continue a crackdown on civil society activists he regards as “bandits and foreign agents.”

President Alexander Lukashenko chided officials in his administration for allowing the operation of non-governmental organizations that he called “harmful to the state.”

“A mopping-up operation is going on,” Lukashenko said. “Do you think it’s easy? There are thousands of our people working for them, and their brains are distorted and brainwashed with foreign money.”

Belarusian authorities have ramped up raids and arrests of independent journalists and civil society activists in recent weeks.

The Viasna human rights center said the country’s law enforcement agencies have conducted more than 200 searches of offices and apartments of journalists and activists so far this month. The center said authorities detained 11 activists Thursday.

The Belarusian Association of Journalists said authorities raided the apartment of freelance journalist Tanya Smotkina in the town of Hlybokaye for the second time this month and detained her for interrogation on charges of “inciting strife.”

A journalist who worked for the U.S.-funded broadcast RFE/RL and was detained last week, Ina Studzinskaya, declared a hunger strike Thursday to protest authorities refusing to give her access to her lawyer, the journalists’ association said.

The deputy head of the association, Boris Goretsky, said Studzinskaya was kept in cell without a mattress where the lights were kept on around the clock.

Overall, 31 Belarusian journalists are in custody awaiting trial or serving sentences.

The Justice Ministry asked the country’s highest court on Wednesday to shut the Belarusian Association of Journalists over alleged flaws in office lease documents. BAJ said it couldn’t provide the necessary documents to respond to the complaints because its headquarters have been sealed since a police raid last week.

On Thursday, the ministry also appealed to the court to close the Belarusian PEN Center, an association of writers led by Svetlana Alexievich, the winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in literature.

Alexievich, a member of the opposition Coordination Council in Belarus, left the country last year after being summoned for questioning by the state investigative agency.

Earlier this week, authorities froze the PEN Center’s bank accounts.

“Shutting the PEN Center reflects the overall catastrophic situation in the country with authorities trying to immediately silence everyone,” the organization’s deputy head, Taciana Niadbaj, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Minsk. “But even in this atmosphere of fear and repressions we will continue the fight and appeal the authorities’ move.”

Lukashenko, who faced months of protests triggered by his election to a sixth term in an August 2020 vote that the opposition and the West saw as rigged, responded to demonstrations with a sweeping crackdown that saw more than 35,000 people arrested and thousands beaten by police.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Lukashenko’s main election challenger, was forced to leave Belarus under official pressure after the election. She visited the United States this week for meetings with Biden administration officials and U.S. lawmakers to rally support for the Belarusian opposition.

“When you look me in the eye, you see the eyes of every political prisoner, every activist, every Belarusian who wants to live in a free country,” Tsikhanouskaya told members of U.S. Congress.