Sand artist Sudarshan Pattnaik showcases his work at Odisha's Puri beach (Image courtesy: Twitter/Sudarshan Pattnaik)
Only 19 athletes out of the 127-member Indian contingent will be participating in the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games which will will begin at National Stadium in Tokyo at around 4.30 PM India time later today.
After being postponed for one year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Games will be held in near empty stadiums with no spectators allowed into any venues.
With the number of people infected with Covid-19 in Tokyo increasing, most of the participating countries have also decided to send only a selected few for the traditional parade of nations during the opening ceremony.
In order to prevent the spread of infection, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has also decided to send just 19 athletes, including flag bearers M C Mary Kom and Manpreet Singh, along with six officials, for the opening ceremony.
The athletes' march past, to be held as per the Japanese alphabet, will begin 30 minutes after the start of the ceremony with India placed at No. 21 – just after Iran – in the running order of 206 countries marching.
As per the tradition, the contingent from Greece would march first into the stadium and Japan, being the host nation, the last one in the order.
Those athletes who would not be participating in the opening ceremony would be watching it at the Olympic Village.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended his best wishes to the Prime Minister of Japan, Yoshihide Suga for Tokyo Olympics.
In a tweet, PM Modi said, "Wishing PM Suga and Japan the very best for Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. We look forward to a season of incredible performances by the world's best sportspersons!"
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 23, 2021
India has sent its largest-ever contingent of 127 athletes to Tokyo Olympics which also includes the highest female representation of 56 athletes.
At Delhi's Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, Sports Minister Anurag Thakur and his deputy Nisith Pramanik will be watching the opening ceremony live and will be joined by eminent personalities from all walks, including ex-athletes from across the country.