Tokyo Olympics

5 to Watch: Big Opening Ceremony Moments, Local Rower Makes Olympic Debut

The Opening Ceremony were televised and streamed live from Tokyo early Friday morning, and will be replayed during primetime Friday evening

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

With the Opening Ceremony officially kicking off the Games Friday morning (on NBC and streaming live), there is already plenty of action underway at the Tokyo Olympics.

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, plus one final pre-Opening Ceremony event.

Watch a primetime replay of the Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony on NBC tonight at 6:30 p.m. CT.

(NOTE: Spoilers of the Opening Ceremony below)

1. Rowing kicks off with local rower making her debut

Competition began Thursday night CT for rowers in the sculling events, Friday morning in Tokyo.

Although no American men qualified in sculling events, the American women could make it to the medal podium. Kara Kohler, competing in the single, came in first in her heat with a 7:49.71, advancing to the quarterfinals. Gevvie Stone, who was the silver medalist in single sculls in Rio, teamed up with Kristi Wagner in the 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.

Rusher, who has ties to both Glenview, Illinois, and West Bend, Wisconsin, was named first team All-America by the CRCA and the Pac-12 All Academic first team. She received bronze at U23 Worlds for the US in the women’s eight and finished fourth in the varsity eight at the NCAA Championships.

MORE: Olympic Rower Alie Rusher Hopes to Bring Home Gold to Add to Parents' Silver and Bronze

2. Who lit the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony?

Tennis player Naomi Osaka was the final person the Olympic flame was passed to, and she then went to light the Olympic cauldron.

The torch relay through the Olympic stadium featured a number of athletes, a doctor and nurse who treated COVID-19 patients this past year, as well as children from the Japanese region of Fukushima, which was devastated by an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in March 2011.

RECAP: Highlights, Top Moments From Exciting Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony

3. Who were the flag bearers for Team USA?

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.

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, who also has a Chicago connection, 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. 

4. Team USA in the Parade of Nations

Team USA Parade of Nations
AP Photo/Eric Gay
The United States team parade during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 27, 2012, in London. This year's events are set to start on July 23.

More than 600 American athletes are 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.

But this year’s Parade of Nations will have a few special features as well. 

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.

RECAP: Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony in Pictures 

5. Team USA wears Ralph Lauren at the Opening Ceremony

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.

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.

“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.”

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