After being postponed for a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Tokyo Olympics has finally come to life.
The opening ceremony is at 11pm tonight, and two more events start today, including some Kiwi medal contenders who take to the water as the rowing begins.
Here's all you need to know about today's action (Friday, 23 July).
Kiwis in action today
New Zealand's rowers begin their Olympic campaigns today, started by rookie single sculler Jordan Parry.
The most familiar face amongst the rowers in action today is Emma Twigg, who begins her fourth Olympic campaign, searching to finally get on the podium after two fourth-placed finishes in 2012 and 2016.
The three crews racing today are all new to international competition, due to the Covid pandemic shutting down the international rowing scene, but the women's double sculls pair of Brooke Donoghue and Hannah Osborne are the most likely medal chances, with Donoghue a two-time world champion in the discipline.
Her former crewmate Olivia Loe is now part of the quadruple sculls crew who are the last to race on day one.
Opening ceremony under fire
The Tokyo Olympic organising committee fired the director of the opening ceremony yesterday because of a Holocaust joke he made during a comedy show in 1998.
Organising committee president Seiko Hashimoto said a day ahead of the opening ceremony that director Kentaro Kobayashi has been dismissed. He was accused of using a joke about the Holocaust in his comedy act, including the phrase "Let's play Holocaust."
"We found out that Mr. Kobayashi, in his own performance, has used a phrase ridiculing a historical tragedy," Hashimoto said. "We deeply apologise for causing such a development the day before the opening ceremony and for causing troubles and concerns to many involved parties as well as the people in Tokyo and the rest of the country."
The opening ceremony of the pandemic-delayed Games is scheduled for tonight. The ceremony will be held without spectators as a measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus infections, although some officials, guests and media will attend.
"We are going to have the opening ceremony and, yes, I am sure there are a lot of people who are not feeling easy about the opening of the Games," Hashimoto said. "But we are going to open the Games under this difficult situation."
Earlier this week, composer Keigo Oyamada, whose music was to be used at the ceremony, was forced to resign because of past bullying of his classmates, which he boasted about in magazine interviews. The segment of his music will not be used.
Japan is pushing ahead with the Olympics against the advice of most of its medical experts. This is partially due to pressure from the IOC, which is estimated to face losses of $3 billion to $4 billion in television rights income if the Games were not held.
The official cost of the Olympics is $15.4 billion, but government audits suggest it's much more. All but $6.7 billion is public money.
"We have been preparing for the last year to send a positive message," Hashimoto said. "Toward the very end now there are so many incidents that give a negative image toward Tokyo 2020."
Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the Tokyo organising committee, also acknowledged the reputational damage.
"Maybe these negative incidents will impact the positive message we wanted to deliver to the world," he said.
The last-minute scandals come as Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's government faces criticism for prioritising the Olympics despite public health concerns amid a resurgence of coronavirus infections.
Kobayashi's Holocaust joke and Oyamada's resignation were the latest to plague the Games. Yoshiro Mori resigned as organising committee president over sexist remarks. Hiroshi Sasaki also stepped down as creative director for the opening and closing ceremonies after suggesting a Japanese actress should dress as a pig.
Sports in action today
Archery (Individual Ranking Round)
How to follow the action
The Herald will have live updates from 10am, including all the Kiwi rowers in action from 11.40am. We will also have a live blog of the opening ceremony, from 10pm. You can watch the rowing and the opening ceremony live on Sky Sport 3.
Every event on Sky can also be watched via streaming on Sky Sport Now or Sky Go.
Sports in action tomorrow
3x3 Basketball (Pool Play)
Archery (Mixed Teams medal match)
Artistic Gymnastics (men's qualification)
Badminton (Pool Play)
Beach Volleyball (Pool Play)
Boxing (Preliminary Rounds)
Cycling (Men's Road Race)
Equestrian (Dressage day one)
Fencing (Epee and Sabre medal matches)
Football (Women's Pool Play)
Handball (Men's Pool Play)
Hockey (Pool Play)
Judo (Women's 48kg and Men's 60kg medal matches)
Shooting (Women's 10m Air Rifle and Men's 10m Air Pistol medal matches)
Softball (Pool Play)
Table Tennis (Preliminary Rounds)
Taekwondo (Women's 49kg and Men's 58kg medal matches)
Tennis (First round)
Volleyball (Pool play)
Water Polo (Pool play)
Weightlifting (Women's 49kg medal competition)