Tokyo Olympics

5 to Watch: Let the Games Begin

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The Opening Ceremony began at 6:55 a.m. ET on Friday morning (on NBC and streaming live), there is already plenty of action underway at the Tokyo Olympics. The U.S. women’s softball team won their opening match against Italy, while the women’s soccer team was stunned by Sweden, suffering a 3-0 defeat and snapping a 44-match unbeaten streak.

The Opening Ceremony is being televised and streamed live from Tokyo this morning, and replayed during primetime this evening. Here is what you need to watch in Tokyo during the Opening Ceremony, plus one final pre-Opening Ceremony event.

Naomi Osaka lit the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony

Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka lit the cauldron at the opening ceremony.

NBC Sports’ Mike Tirico said viewers can expect a “realistic, honest” opening ceremony. “It’s not in a vacuum,” Tirico said. “It’s understanding that people are hurting. There are difficult times."

It was live on NBC at 6:55 a.m. ET and on digital platforms here. Watch delayed on NBC during prime time at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Sue Bird, Eddy Alvarez carry flag for Team USA?

UConn legend 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.

Sue Bird, Eddie Alvarez
USA Women’s Basketball star Sue Bird and USA Baseball infielder Eddy Alvarez have been selected as flag bearers for Team USA at the opening ceremonies in Tokyo.

Bird, who won two national championships with the Huskies, 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 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.

Team USA in the Parade of Nations

More than 600 American athletes are expected to be 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.

At the Opening Ceremony, nations marched in in accordance to alphabetical order in Japanese, following the custom of using the host country’s language to determine the order. 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.

Team USA wears Ralph Lauren at the Opening Ceremony

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.”

Rowing kicked off Thursday night

Competition began Thursday for rowers in the sculling events.

Although no American men qualified in sculls, the American women could make it to the medal podium in both the single and double sculls. Kara Kohler is competing in the single, in which she won the world championship in 2019, and hopes to add a medal to her bronze from the quadruple sculls team in 2012. Gevvie Stone, who was the silver medalist in single sculls in Rio, is teaming up with Kristi Wagner in double sculls.

Olympics - Previews - Day -5
Maja Hitij
TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 18: Athletes of USA Women's double in action during a training session at Sea Forest Waterway on July 18, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

On the quadruple sculls team, Ellen Tomek and Meghan O’Leary -- who won doubles together in 2016 -- are joined by newcomers Alie Rusher and Cicely Madden.

Connecticut has two rowers competing in Tokyo. Austin Hack and Liam Corrigan, both from Old Lyme, are teammates on the men's eight crew. Their competition gets underway Saturday night.

Tonight’s competition is preliminary heats - no medals will be awarded in rowing until July 27.

Watch a replay on digital platforms here.

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