Naomi Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam winner, was the final torchbearer, lighting the cauldron inside the Olympic Stadium, in what has been seen as a beacon of hope in a Games ravaged by the pandemic.
Organisers held a moment of silence for those who had died in the pandemic; as it ticked off and the music paused, the sounds of the protests echoed in the distance.
The pandemic has not been the only hiccup in preparations though, with scandals ranging from corruption during the bidding process to plagiarism allegations over the design of the Tokyo 2020 logo.
The controversies kept coming right up to the eve of the Games, with the opening ceremony’s director sacked on Thursday for making a joke referencing the Holocaust in a video more than two decades ago.
When the full programme of sport begins on Saturday (today), a new generation of Olympic stars are looking to shine after a decade dominated by the likes of Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps.
US swimmer Caeleb Dressel could target seven gold medals, and in track and field, 400 metre hurdlers Karsten Warholm of Norway and the USA’s Sydney McLaughlin are among those hoping to emerge as household names.
In gymnastics, Simone Biles will attempt to crown her dazzling career by equalling Larisa Latynina’s record of nine Olympic gold medals.