From there, a choir of Japanese students sang as a prequel to the traditional release of doves, the Olympic gesture to express a desire for world peace.
An array of singers, including John Legend and Keith Urban, have performed “Imagine” at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics.
The song’s inclusion was a nod to the song that John Lennon and Yoko Ono co-wrote 50 years ago. The singers appeared on video.
“We’re not the first to say ‘Imagine no countries’ or ‘Give peace a chance,’ but we’re carrying that torch, like the Olympic torch, passing it hand to hand, to each other, to each country, to each generation,” Lennon once said. “And that’s our job.”
French President Emmanuel Macron says Japan was right to hold the Olympic Games despite a rise in coronavirus infections, now at a six-month high.
“These Olympic Games had to be held,” said Macron, who was in Tokyo for the start of the games. “The Olympics is the spirit of cooperation and we need it … in this time of COVID,” he said in an interview on France Television, the public TV channel.
The 2024 games will take place in Paris.
Japan is holding the Games amid a state of emergency, and some have criticized the country’s leaders for prioritizing the Olympics over the nation’s health.