There is skepticism. Maybe your Olympic emotions are, “This is happening in spite of everything, and that’s thrilling and poignant and we should celebrate every highlight.” Maybe your Olympic emotions are more like, “This is happening in spite of everything, and maybe that’s a signal they should be canceled?” This is a running roundup for both of those feelings. THE ULTIMATE LOW: But should this even be happening?Like, really, should it? In reporting from the Independent, percussionist Latyr Sy says he was removed from the Opening Ceremonies because organizers “did not want a Black face in the show.”
HIGH: At least video-game music is fun? There is celebration! Others entered in the corner of the NBC screen next to a giant ad. She deserves! LOW: A Senegalese percussionist accused the Tokyo Olympic organizers of excluding him due to his skin color. There’s oily Tonga guy, and there will be Simone Biles, because whatever else you want to say about the 2020/2021 Olympics, they are absolutely, for sure happening. But on the plus side, everyone loves making fun of the cardboard anti-sex beds. This is the kind of endearingly nerdy stuff the Olympics need. Who among us, etc., etc. So all the athletes sprawled out on the stadium floor while they waited, and it looked like a bored school assembly, and honestly, there was something genuine and nice about that. Whatever else you want to say about the 2020/2021 Olympics, they are absolutely, for sure happening. LOW: The broader sense that no one had a vision for what the Opening Ceremony should be.The pictogram people were great, the drones were weird, but in total there was very little coherence to the whole program. They’re definitely happening, even though it seems like a terrible idea and at least one country has pulled out and there’s been a steady drip of stories about how bad the games may be for COVID-19 infections and how unpopular the games are in Japan. You can’t make us believe that drones are a new concept in 2021! Would you like to learn more about Finland? Sorry, you’re gonna learn about Uber instead. LOW: The picture-in-picture ads during the Parade of Nations.Some nations got the full treatment of factoids and fashion from the NBC crew. HIGH: Having three performers with big round heads commit to acting out pictograms for all 50 sports in sequence.It wasn’t entirely live (they cut away for some of the martial arts) and it wasn’t entirely perfect (at one point they dropped the racquet for tennis), but was very charming and human to see these people running around onstage coming up with creative ways to represent the different categories of sports. perform a version orchestrated by Hans Zimmer. HIGH: Oh hey, it’s hot oily Tonga guy again! LOW: Who thought that it was a good idea to get a bunch of celebrities to sing “Imagine” again?Gal Gadot already admitted that it “didn’t transcend” when she tried it for the first time in this pandemic, and yet here we are, still in a pandemic, watching a bunch of celebrities sing “Imagine.” They get bonus points for all being in the same key this time, but still, weird to have John Legend, Keith Urban (the chosen representative of Oceania; we’re sure Nicole’s proud), et al. Tell us to imagine there are no countries when, in fact, this event is premised on having many different countries competing against each other! YES #Olympics pic.twitter.com/8paVtdWX9d— Vulture (@vulture) July 23, 2021
HIGH: Everyone fully accepting the mood of 2021 and sitting on the floor.It was really hot, all the athletes were wearing fancy heavy clothing (except Tonga guy!), and waiting for all the countries to march in and wave the flag is just interminable. There is deep concern. Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
The Olympics are happening. Just one thing lurching into another totally different thing, with no transitions or cohesive themes. NAOMI OSAKA #Olympics pic.twitter.com/mdmmTwFO8O— Vulture (@vulture) July 23, 2021
Tags: LOW: A big flying drone globe that also happens to look like a coronavirus. This post will update as the Games continue. HIGH: Naomi Osaka lighting the Olympic cauldron. hold up a second…are they playing a '90s Sonic the Hedgehog song during the Olympics opening ceremony pic.twitter.com/iwj1IAnMbQ— Brandon Wall (@Walldo) July 23, 2021
Wild to hear a commentator cheerily discuss how China is “under international scrutiny from human-rights organizations” over the Sonic theme, but that’s the Olympics for you. There are highlights! It was also a reference to the fact that the drawings originated during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.