Tokyo Olympics

5 to Watch: The Olympic Flame Is Lit in Tokyo

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With the Opening Ceremony taking place Friday (on NBC10 and streaming live), there is already plenty of action underway at the Tokyo Olympics. The U.S. women’s softball team won their first two opening games, while the USWNT was stunned in their soccer opener by Sweden, suffering a 3-0 defeat and snapping a 44-match unbeaten streak

The Opening Ceremony was televised and streamed live from Tokyo early Friday morning, and will be replayed during primetime Friday evening. Here is what you need to watch in Tokyo during the Opening Ceremony.

The Olympics quickly sped up with Princeton University alum Gevvie Stone getting into her boat and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, native Casey Kaufhold taking aim at her target.

Here are 5 things to watch as the Tokyo Olympics officially get underway.

Naomi Osaka lights the cauldron at the Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony

After much speculation, tennis star Naomi Osaka lit the Olympic cauldron Friday.

Japan could have given the honor to golfer Hideki Matsuyama, who became the first Japanese man to win a golf major when he won the Masters in April.

The 23-year-old Osaka, who has a Haitian father and Japanese mother, has represented the host nation in international competition since she was 14 years old. She was born in Japan but moved to New York with her family when she was 3.

In order to compete for Japan at the Tokyo Olympics, her first Games, Osaka had to give up her U.S. citizenship before she turned 22. 

Ahead of these Olympics, Osaka took a two-month hiatus from tennis after withdrawing from the French Open following her decision not to do press conferences at the tournament — one she said was for the sake of her mental health. The choice drew public backlash from Grand Slam organizers and incited debate around the sports world about athletes' obligation, or lack thereof, to the media. 

Team USA flag bearers lead team into stadium

Women's basketball star Sue Bird and baseball player Eddy Alvarez were chosen to be the flag bearers for Team USA. It was announced on Wednesday’s episode of 'TODAY' that the four-time WNBA champion and MLB infielder would lead the United States in the Parade of Nations.

Flag bearers Sue Bird and Eddy Alvarez of Team United States lead their team out during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on July 23, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Flag bearers Sue Bird and Eddy Alvares of Team United States lead their team out during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on July 23, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.

Bird is no stranger to international competition. She has four Olympic gold medals and has won an additional four gold medals at the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup. 

Alvarez will look to add to his Olympic medal collection as well. Although he does not have Olympic baseball experience, Alvarez won silver in short track speed skating during the Sochi Olympics. He played for the Miami Marlins in 2020, and is in their minor league system this season. He is "honored" to carry the flag.

Sue Bird, Eddie Alvarez
USA Women’s Basketball star Sue Bird and USA Baseball infielder Eddy Alvarez have been selected as flag bearers for Team USA at the opening ceremonies in Tokyo.

Team USA in the Parade of Nations

More than 600 American athletes are expected to be in Tokyo and are ready to compete at the highest level. Not all of them took part in the Parade of Nations, as many events are already underway or will take place the morning after the Opening Ceremony.

At the Opening Ceremony, nations marched in according to alphabetical order in Japanese, following the custom of using the host country’s language to determine the order. But this year’s Parade of Nations will have a few special features as well. 

You may notice that every year during the Olympic Opening Ceremony the marching order of the parade of nations is slightly different. This is why…

The United States was featured at the end of the parade order. Japan was the parade’s grand finale, and future Olympic host countries marched just before the host nation. France, host of the 2024 Paris Olympics, preceded Japan, and the United States, hosts of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, went before France. 

Team USA wearing Ralph Lauren at the Opening Ceremony

Ralph Lauren, which has been dressing Team USA since 2008, unveiled this year’s Opening Ceremony uniforms last week. The outfits for Tokyo fit the designer’s preppy, Americana aesthetic perfectly.

The United States Olympic team donned traditional navy blazers, complete with a Team USA patch on one breast and Ralph Lauren’s famous Polo Pony logo on the other.

As shown on beach volleyball players, Alix Klineman and April Ross, below, Team USA paired the blazers with a Breton striped shirt, a neck scarf printed with stars and stripes, as well as a belt that was made from recycled plastic bottles. Ralph Lauren also designed solid navy masks with a tiny American flag for the United States Olympic athletes to wear.

The flag bearer’s jacket also has a sustainable feature: RL COOLING technology, a personal air conditioning system built into the garment.

“Through the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Ralph Lauren celebrates America’s pioneering spirit and tradition, while embracing modernity and innovation — and it is with that ethos in mind that we approached the development of the RL COOLING technology,” said David Lauren, Ralph Lauren Corporation’s chief brand and innovation officer.

Team USA modeling the Ralph Lauren outfits
Courtesy of Ralph Lauren
Ralph Lauren Team USA’s opening ceremony parade uniform and debuted a self-regulating temperature cooling device that will be worn by Team USA’s flag bearer during the Olympic and Paralympic Opening Ceremony Parades.

“Recognizing Tokyo’s summer heat, we sought to develop a solution for Team USA that fuses fashion and function — allowing them to look and feel their best on one of the world’s biggest stages.”

Rower with NJ ties advances to semi-finals

Competition began Thursday (Friday in Tokyo) for rowers in the sculling events.

Although no American men qualified in sculls, the American women could make it to the medal podium in both the single and double sculls. Kara Kohler, competing in the single, came in first in her heat with a 7:49.71, advancing to the quarterfinals. She hopes to add a medal to her bronze from the quadruple sculls team in 2012. Princeton University alum Gevvie Stone, who was the silver medalist in single sculls in Rio, teamed up with Kristi Wagner in double sculls. The duo turned in a time of 6:55.65 in a second-place finish for their preliminary heat, advancing to the semi-finals.

Training for rowing during the Olympics
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
The boats are going into the water in Tokyo.

In the quadruple sculls event, Ellen Tomek and Meghan O’Leary -- who won doubles together in 2016 -- are joined by newcomers Alie Rusher and Cicely Madden. They failed to qualify for the finals during their first heat, turning in a 6:34.36 and placing fifth. They will go to repechage Saturday. Medal rounds will begin in rowing on July 27.

Not only did the rowers hit the water, but archers hit their targets.

Lancaster, Pennsylvania, native Casey Kaufhold took part in the Women's Ranking Individual Round as she made her Olympic debut. She'll enter as the 17th seed vs. Ines de Velasco (ESP).

She likes to play Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now" to get hyped up.

Medals won't be handed out to the archers until July 30.

Casey Kaufhold aims bow and arrow
Dean Alberga/Handout/World Archery Federation via Getty Images
Casey Kaufhold is taking aim at his first Olympics medal.
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