The Olympic torch is burning in Tokyo — almost exactly a year after the games were originally scheduled to be held. They’ve been delayed until now due to the.
But the virus is still clouding the games. The opening ceremonies, featuring the parade of nations and the traditional, were held in Tokyo’s Olympic stadium, which has a capacity of 80,000. Fewer than 1,000 were in attendance.
Seventeen new Olympic COVID-19 cases were reported on Saturday, bringing the total to 127, CBS News’ Jamie Yuccas reports for “CBS This Morning: Saturday.” Most of the new cases were among games contractors who live in Japan, and one was in an athlete.
Of the 127 total cases, 14 have been among athletes, the Associated Press reported.
The news of the new infections came just hours after the opening ceremony that ended with Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka lighting the Olympic cauldron. On Twitter she called it “undoubtedly the greatest athletic achievement and honor I will ever have in my life.”
Instead of a global gathering of sports fans, the Olympic stadium was largely empty. Masked athletes marched through an eerily quiet stadium — from the largest delegation, the U.S., with more than 600 athletes — to the smallest. More than a dozen nations only sent two competitors.
The family of Team USA flagbearer Eddy Alvarez cheered him on from the other side of the globe, in Miami. Athletes’ families couldn’t make the trip.
Instead of cheering crowds, it was mostly VIPs and dignitaries like first lady Jill Biden looking on.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach opened the games by trying to put the pandemic in the past.
“Today is a moment of hope. Yes, it is very different from what all of us had imagined,” Bach said. “But finally we are all here together.”
That message of solidarity, however, didn’t play on the streets. Protestors lined Tokyo, calling for the games to be canceled amid rising COVID cases. A recent poll shows more than half of Japanese citizens oppose the games going forward.
Tokyo has been under a state of emergency since July 12, and the number of new daily cases have sharply climbed since then. Meanwhile, less than a quarter of Japan’s 126 million people are fully vaccinated.
A moment of silence was held to honor the lives lost to COVID-19. And for the first time ever, 11 Israeli athletes murdered at the 1972 Munich games were remembered.
The competitions now begin in earnest, including new Olympic sports like surfing, skateboarding and 3-on-3 basketball, which begins Saturday. When it comes to 3-on-3, U.S. women’s player Katie Lou Samuelson never made it to Tokyo after testing positive for COVID-19. She said this week, while announcing the news, she was heartbroken and devastated.