The Tokyo Olympics officially got under way Friday morning — after a year of delays, and amid a COVID-19 surge that has left Japan’s capital city in a state of emergency — as athletes from around the world marched in the opening ceremony’s traditional Parade of Nations.
For the first time, each country was allowed to have two flag bearers. Team USA baseball player Eddy Alvarez, who reinvigorated his baseball career at Salt Lake Community College, was named one of them, along with basketball legend Sue Bird.
It was a particularly emotional moment for Alvarez, a Cuban-American from Miami — given the current times in his home city. Protests and demonstrations have been common in Miami for several days, a show of support for Cubans who have taken to the streets in the communist nation to air grievances about poor economic conditions and other complaints.
“It means everything to me,” Alvarez said in a video shared by Team USA. “I owe so much to my parents, to my family that came over to this country. To be able to lead Team USA is an absolute honor. There were a lot of sacrifices I’ve had to make in this life, in my athletic career. So just absolutely, incredibly honored and what a privilege.”
First lady Jill Biden was among those in the stadium to cheer the Americans’ arrival. Biden spoke virtually with both Alvarez and Bird ahead of the ceremony. She also spoke with Allison Schmitt, a four-time Olympic swimmer and mental health advocate. Biden told the athletes that they’d given up a lot to be in Tokyo and relied on support from family and friends.
The opening ceremony started at about 5 a.m. MT, but it will be rebroadcast on NBC at 5:30 p.m. and then again at 10:10 p.m.
— From staff and wire reports
Utah’s Kathleen Noble rows for Uganda
Kathleen Noble, who trains on the Jordan River and the Great Salt Lake, finished fifth in her opening heat yesterday in women’s single sculls. Noble can still earn a place in the finals, though. Her repechage heat is scheduled to start at 5:20 p.m. MT.
All events can be streamed live on the NBC Sports app.
Team USA vs. Team Mexico softball
Former Ute star Anissa Urtez faces off against her fiancee, Team USA’s Amanda Chidester, at 11:20 p.m. Former Ute and two-time Pac-12 player of the year Hannah Flippen is a replacement player for Team USA.