The Olympic Games' Opening Ceremony is a chance for the host country to show off the best of its culture, introduce the competing countries and athletes and generally get everyone in the mood for a sporting event that brings the world together.
The Opening Ceremony for this year's Summer Games -- which were delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic -- will take place on July 23 in Tokyo's Olympic Stadium.
Usually held in a stadium full of ecstatic fans, this year's ceremony will have athletes from across the globe parading in a near empty venue after it was announced that fans would not be allowed to attend because of rising Covid-19 cases in Japan.
"The most difficult part of the process was that the postponement meant a simplification of the ceremonies and the message had to be drastically revised," said Takayuki Hioki, Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee executive producer of ceremonies.
"After nearly five years of planning, we found ourselves suddenly having to rethink everything. This was the biggest challenge," said Hioki.
Due to restrictions, only a select number of officials and some dignitaries will be present for the Friday's ceremony.
Carrying the flag
Bearing your country's flag as you and your fellow athletes make their way into a stadium for an opening ceremony is one of the greatest honors bestowed on any Olympian.
For Team USA, four-time Olympic basketball gold medalist Sue Bird and baseball player Eddy Alvarez have been given that honor after they were named as their country's flag bearers for the opening ceremony, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee announced Wednesday.
"It's an incredible honor to be selected the flag bearer for Team USA," said Bird in a statement. "I know what that means because I got to witness Dawn Staley go through it when she was selected in 2004.
"It's an honor that is bigger than the moment in that you've been selected by your fellow Team USA athletes to represent the entire delegation, and it will last forever."
Bird and Alvarez were voted as flag bearers by Team USA athletes. The opening ceremony on Friday will mark the first time the US delegation will have two flag-bearers.