On Friday, Olympic fans and athletes had the opportunity to take part in one of the grandest and traditional events of the games: the opening ceremony.
The opening ceremony is a chance for the country hosting the games to show off its culture through music, dances, fireworks and other performances.
This year's opening ceremony was historic all on its own. Originally planned to take place in 2020, this year's games opened in 2021 during the global COVID-19 pandemic. There were no fans at the opening ceremony in Tokyo, but the stadium wasn't empty.
Members of the International Olympic Committee, athletes and journalists were in attendance. The theme of the ceremony was "United in Emotion" to reference the challenge of COVID-19 and pay homage to those who have fought the disease.
The Associated Press reports that the cost for both the opening and closing ceremonies this year would be capped at about $118 million.
Past ceremonies have also included stunt men, colorful balloons, carrier pigeons, fireworks and snowboarders.
Here are some of the best Olympic opening ceremony photos in past years:
Grenoble 1968 Winter Olympics
The 1968 Winter Olympics took place in Grenoble, France. According to the Olympics, 37 teams had participated in the games, and there were 35 events. These games were historic because, for the first time, a medal was created for each discipline, and East and West Germany competed as separate teams, according to Britannica. In the picture, there are smoke rings in the sky formed by the exhaust of the airplanes during the opening ceremony.
Mexico City 1968 Summer Olympics
The 1968 Summer Olympics were the first games held in Latin America and the first to be held in a Spanish-speaking country, according to Team USA. Athletes had to take gender tests for the first time, and the first athlete was disqualified from the games under new doping regulations. In the opening ceremony, Mexican athlete Enriqueta Basilio de Sotelo became the first woman in the Olympics history to light the cauldron during the opening ceremony.
Seoul 1988 Summer Olympics
The 1988 Summer Olympics were held in Seoul, South Korea. According to the Olympics website, 159 teams participated in the games, with more than 8,000 athletes competing. According to Britannica, North Korea wanted cohost status. Even with some compromises made by the International Organizing Committee (IOC), North Korea chose to boycott the Olympics along with a few other countries. In the picture, a stunt man with a parachute is attempting to land on the Olympic stadium.
Calgary 1988 Winter Olympics
According to Canada's Calgary Herald, the opening ceremony of the 1988 Winter Olympics, which were held in Calgary, Canada, contained about 60,000 spectators in the McMahon Stadium. To make the event colorful, audience members were given different colored ponchos to wear over their clothes. At the ceremony, there were 5,000 to 6,000 performers, 1,000 pigeons, horses, aerobatic jet squads and other inflatables. Helium-filled balloons were released during this event, as seen in the picture.
Barcelona 1992 Summer Olympics
The opening ceremony of the 1992 Summer Olympics took place at Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys, formerly known as the Estadi Olimpic de Montjuic, in Barcelona, Spain. According to the Olympics website, there were a few political changes that took place since the 1988 Olympic games. Apartheid was abolished in South Africa which allowed the country to participate in the games for the first time since 1960. Additionally, the breakup of the Soviet Union led to the formation of independent countries. Pictured here are dancers at the stadium.
Lillehammer 1994 Winter Olympics
The 1994 Winter Olympics were held in Lillehammer, Norway. According to the Olympics website, there were 67 teams and 61 events. Norway was the smallest country in history to host the Winter Games, which raised questions as to whether Lillehammer could host a large-scale event. But, Audun Tron, the mayor at the time, believed the games could provide a long-term legacy to the region. In the picture, fireworks explode during the opening ceremony.
Nagano 1998 Winter Olympics
The opening ceremony of the 1998 Winter Olympics took place at Nagano Olympic Stadium, in Nagano, Japan. According to the Olympics, there were 72 teams and 68 events. Snowboarding debuted as an official discipline. The opening ceremony consisted of sumo wrestlers entering the arena, Emperor Japan Akihito announcing the opening of the games, lively performances and songs and the release of balloons in the shape of doves.
Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics
The 2010 Winter Olympics took place in Vancouver, British Columbia. According to the Olympics, there were 82 teams and 86 events. The opening ceremony of the games had maple leaves, including ones that were falling from the ceiling and giant ones made out of torches, according to the Wall Street Journal. The maple leaf, which is a recognized symbol of Canada, represents unity and peace. According to the WSJ, the death of an athlete from the Republic of Georgia was remembered several times during the ceremony with a minute of silence and the dropping of the Canadian and Olympic flags to half-mast. The Georgian team also wore black scarves when coming onto the arena. The athlete, Nodar Kumaritashvili, died during a practice run.
London 2012 Summer Olympics
The 2012 Summer Olympics took place in London. According to Rolling Stone, British stars including Paul McCartney, Arctic Monkeys, Mike Oldfield and Dizzee Rascal all performed at the opening ceremony. Reuters reports that the opening show was designed by Oscar-winning film director Danny Boyle, who wanted to pay tribute to the National Health Service. One act consisted of nurses dancing around hospital beds and famous villains from children's literature are rising from the beds. Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter series is also present.
Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics
The 2014 Winter Olympics took place in Sochi, Russia. According to National Public Radio, the opening ceremony, which took place in Fisht Stadium, featured music including Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" and a mashup of several songs by tATu. The show also included part of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. During the ceremony, ballet dancers capture the attention of the spectators and motorcyclists enter the arena, according to NPR.
Contributing: Tom Schad
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Tokyo Olympic opening ceremony: Look at photos from past performances