Tennis legend, Naomi Osaka, had the honour of lighting the flame to mark the official opening of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games - a year later than planned, and in the midst of a global pandemic. A more sombre tone than previous opening ceremonies, it was a reminder that this is a Games taking place in a world still facing its toughest challenge.

"Today is a moment of hope," said Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). "Yes, it is very different from what all of us had imagined. But let us cherish this moment because finally we are all here together."

This Games is going to be different, dampened by masks, positive tests and the absence of fans. But it is still the Olympics; still the greatest show on Earth, still faster, higher, stronger and now together.

As for the ceremony itself, it was modest, a reminder of all the world has gone through yet offered hope for what is to come. But the lack of a crowd was stark as socially distanced and masked athletes - though some went without - waved to empty stands, no roar accompanying their march into the stadium.

The build-up to Tokyo 2020 was long – with some strong opposition from some Japanese people, outside the stadium, made their voices heard – with the stadium, itself, empty - but for a select number of dignitaries and Olympics officials.

For the world No.3, Naomi, she said that she was fit, rearing to go and ready to represent Japan – after saying that she will give up her US citizenship.

Born in Japan, to Japanese and Haitian parents, the family moved to New York when she was three and she represents Japan on the WTA Tour and in the Fed Cup. “I think that playing with the pride of the country will make me feel more emotional," she said.

The ‘poster girl’ for the Games, at every bus stop in Tokyo, she stared down from an advert, greeting passengers local and international. She is decked out in a neon pink jacket over black activewear with the slogan written half in English, half in Japanese.

Osaka, who renounced her US citizenship in 2019 in favour of her Japanese heritage, will make her return to tennis after two months out at the Olympics. It is from Florida, where the world's best young tennis players congregated and compete and she was the face of Tokyo 2020.

She is bringing change to what is said, by some, to be one of the least diverse countries in the world.