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5 to Watch: The Flame Will Be Lit at Tokyo Olympics’ Opening Ceremony

With the Opening Ceremony set to begin 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 first two opening games, while the USWNT was stunned in their soccer opener by Sweden, suffering a 3-0 defeat and snapping a 44-match unbeaten streak

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

The Olympics then quickly speed up with Princeton University alum Gevvie Stone getting into her boat and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, native Casey Kaufhold taking aim at her target.

Here are 5 things to watch as the Tokyo Olympics officially get underway.

Who will light the cauldron at the Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony?

The Japanese Olympic Committee hasn’t announced who will light the cauldron, but there are some great candidates. 

Japan could give the honor to golfer Hideki Matsuyama, who became the first Japanese man to win a golf major when he won the Masters in April

Or they could go a more symbolic route, finding a current or former Olympian who recovered from COVID-19. At the 1964 Tokyo Games, runner Yoshinori Sakai had the honor. He was born on August 6, 1945, the day that the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

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

Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch

Kim Kyung-Hoon/Pool Photo via AP, File

The celebration cauldron is seen lit on the first day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay in Naraha, Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan.

Who will be the flag bearer for Team USA?

Women’s basketball star 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.

USA Basketball star Sue Bird discusses being named a flag bearer for Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics. She will share flag bearer duties with USA Baseball player Eddy Alvarez.

Bird 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. He is “honored” to carry the flag.

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.

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 will take part in the Parade of Nations, as many events are already underway or will take place the morning after the Opening Ceremony.

Team USA Parade of Nations

AP Photo/Eric Gay

The United States team parade during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 27, 2012, in London. This year’s events are set to start on July 23.

At the Opening Ceremony, nations will march in according 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. 

You may notice that every year during the Olympic Opening Ceremony the marching order of the parade of nations is slightly different. This is why…

The United States will be featured at the end of the parade order. Japan will be the parade’s grand finale, and future Olympic host countries will march just before the host nation. France, host of the 2024 Paris Olympics, will precede Japan, and the United States, hosts of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, will go before France. 

Team USA will wear 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 will don 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 will pair 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.

Team USA modeling the Ralph Lauren outfits

Courtesy of Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren Team USA’s opening ceremony parade uniform and debuted a self-regulating temperature cooling device that will be worn by Team USA’s flag bearer during the Olympic and Paralympic Opening Ceremony Parades.

“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.”

Rower with NJ ties, archer from Pennsylvania get the action going

Competition begins Thursday (Friday in Tokyo) for rowers in the sculling events. You can stream it live here beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET.

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. Princeton University alum Gevvie Stone, who was the silver medalist in single sculls in Rio, is teaming up with Kristi Wagner in double sculls. 

Training for rowing during the Olympics

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

The boats are going into the water in Tokyo.

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. 

The competition is preliminary heats – no medals will be awarded in rowing until July 27.

Watch live starting at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN or on digital platforms.

Not only do the rowers hit the water, but archers will be hitting their targets.

Lancaster, Pennsylvania, native Casey Kaufhold will take part in the Women’s Ranking Individual Round starting at 8 p.m. as she makes her Olympic debut. She likes to play Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” to get hyped up.

Medals won’t be handed out to the archers until July 30.

Casey Kaufhold aims bow and arrow

Dean Alberga/Handout/World Archery Federation via Getty Images

Casey Kaufhold is taking aim at his first Olympics medal.

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