Indian men's hockey team captain Manpreet Singh and boxing-great Mary Kom led the 25-member Indian contingent at the parade of nations during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics held at the National Stadium in Tokyo on Friday.
Wearing a red turban, looking dapper dressed in blue from head to toe, Manpreet Singh proudly held the tricolor, whereas Mary Kom, wearing a blue jacket over her golden dress, and the rest of the Indian contingent, with their faces hidden behind masks - the much needed and now normal accessory, waved at limited crowd in the stadium, owing to the Covid-19 restrictions.
The contingent, comprising 19 athletes and six officials, walked in at 21st after Iran, with the order being based on the Japanese alphabet.
Manika Batra and Sharath Kamal were supposed to be a part of the contingent, however they decided against it as they open their mixed-doubles campaign on Saturday.
Due to the increasing number of coronovirus cases in Japan, it was earlier announced by the IOC that the opening ceremony would only be attended by 950 people, thus making it a subdued event. Empty chairs stared back at the waving athletes, who also have been under tremendous pressure with daily coronavirus tests and several other curbs.
The Olympics being held in the middle of a pandemic have been marred by controversies, with the director of the opening ceremony being fired on Thursday for making jokes about the Holocaust. A number of athletes have also tested positive and had to withdraw from the games. In addition, the under-pressure healthcare department and majority of the general public is against the holding of the games in these tough times.
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