42 Dutch athletes and staff will represent the Dutch team at the Tokyo Olympics at Friday’s opening ceremony. It is just one part of the 288-strong team.
Many athletes are still not in Tokyo and many of them are already active on the first day of the Games. Pieter van den Hoogenband (chef de mission) said that the number of athletes taking part is lower than in previous Games.
“We have yet to receive the whole team. A significant number of athletes are staying somewhere else and many are taking action very quickly. They are also participating in smaller delegations than normal, according to other countries. Because they want that, athletes are cautious. The risk of contracting the disease is not present just before the Games. Everyone has the right to choose, and we respect that.
The Netherlands sent 288 athletes to Japan as the largest team of sportsmen. The previous record for the largest sports team to Japan was 242 athletes in Rio de Janeiro’s 2016 Games. Japan’s team has 177 debutants.
Van den Hoogenband said, “We are present at 25 of the 33 sports. We will also start in 135 medal events.” The team’s average age, which includes 60 percent of women, is 28.
During the opening ceremony, the Dutch flag bearers were Churandy Martina, a skateboarder, and Keet Oldenbeuving.
Sober ceremony to open the new year
The opening ceremony for the Games in Japan won’t be as grand as previous editions. With only a handful of officials in attendance, the ceremony will be simple and solemn.
Marco Balich, who was responsible for many of the opening and closing ceremonies, and also served as advisor to the Games in Tokyo, stated that “it’s going to look austere, yet still have beautiful Japanese aesthetics.” It will be very Japanese but also reflect the sentiments of today.
The coronavirus is a real threat to the sport event. COVID-19 has already caused the Tokyo Games to be postponed for a year. This year, they will be held in a completely new atmosphere. Japan is still very concerned about the spread of infectious diseases. Many precautions have been taken. The absence of spectators is the most alarming.
The opening ceremony is usually grand and dramatic. It starts with a parade by all participating countries, followed by the flag bearers. Tokyo will have a much lower number, with 12,600 officials and athletes marching into the Olympic stadium at Rio 2016.