The Tokyo Olympics are here, and it has been far from a smooth ride. From a year-long delay due to the pandemic to multiple-withdrawals and last-minute panic over Covid-19 cases among the Olympic contingent in Japan, it has been one rollercoaster of a ride.
The public sentiment in the country has been one of skepticism mixed with fear. After all, over 11,000 athletes across the globe have travelled to one location in the midst of a pandemic that has still not been controlled. However, it's now showtime and we can only hope for a relatively incident-free Games.
Local spectators are barred from almost all Games venues, with only around 900 people expected to attend the opening ceremony at Tokyo's Olympic Stadium on Friday.
When and where to watch the opening ceremony in the UAE
The build-up for the opening ceremony begins at 1pm UAE time on Friday, while the ceremony will kick off at 3pm, with an expected running time of more than three hours. The Tokyo Olympics will be shown in beIN Sports in the UAE.
What to expect at the ceremony
The ceremony has been watered down to prevent crowding, with the parade of nations, a centrepiece of the show featuring athletes, drastically reduced.
Reports of the rehearsals suggest a high-tech show including a drone display. Japan's Emperor Naruhito will be chief among the VIPs, along with some world leaders and senior figures including US First Lady Jill Biden and France President Emmanuel Macron.
Who will be the flag bearers at the opening ceremony?
In March, the International Olympic Committee announced that each nation will have the option to have two flag bearers - one male, one female - at the opening ceremony to promote gender equality.
For Greece - the nation which always leads out the opening ceremony - shooter Anna Korakaki and gymnast Eleftherios Petrounias have been selected as flag bearers, while host nation Japan will be led out by wrestler Yui Susaki and basketball player Rui Hachimura.
The flag bearers for the United States will be basketball player Sue Bird and basketball player Eddy Alvarez, and for Great Britain, sailor Hannah Mills and rower Mohamed Sbihi will have the honour.
China will be led out by volleyball player Zhu Ting and Taekwondo fighter Zhao Shuai, while India will have boxer Mary Kom and hockey player Manpreet Singh as its flag bearers.
Many nations have yet to reveal who their flag bearers will be for the opening ceremony.
What's the controversy surrounding the opening ceremony?
The show director for the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony was fired on the eve of the event over a decades-old skit referencing the Holocaust.
Kentaro Kobayashi's comments in a video of a comedy sketch from 1998 emerged online overnight and resulted in his removal.
"It came to light that during a past performance, [he] used language that mocked a tragic fact of history," Tokyo 2020 chief Seiko Hashimoto said.
"The organising committee has decided to relieve Kobayashi of his post," she said.