Live Updates: Tokyo Olympics, July 23 - Kiwi rowers begin medal quest with sculling heats, opening ceremony

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2:49am - More fireworks and the ceremony comes to an end. Today (Saturday) will see the first official day of competition and the athletes will now leave the stadium, knowing the Olympics have got over the startline at least.

Join us at midday for live updates, when the first Kiwis in action will be world champion rowing pair Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast.  

2:46am - Tennis star Naomi Osaka is the last to carry the Olympic flame to its destination in the stadium - a representation of Mt Fujiyama. A poignant moment for a real hometown favourite.

2:39am - The flame enters the stadium to the 'Bolero' theme, famous for the Torvill & Dean ice-skating routine at the 1984 Winter Olympics.

2:32am - The lights of Tokyo are switched on and the Olympic flame nears its destination.

2:29am - Mannequins act out the 50 sporting pictograms, designed in 1964.

2:22am - The Olympic anthem is sung and the symbolic doves are released. They seem to be lights on the ground and feathers this time round.

2:14am - Emperoro Naruhito declares the Games official open and the Olympic flag now enters the stadium.

The six flag carriers represent Olympians from the five continents, plus the refugees. Here's a question - if the rings represent continents, do we need another now for the refugee team?

They pass the flag to essential workers from Tokyo.

2:05am - Hashimoto has pledged to see these Games through to the end, despite the risk of COVID in Japan, Tokyo and the Games Village. Bach has praised the commitment of athletes to train through the pandemic for these Olympics, inspiring the IOC.

1:52am - Organising committee preside Seiko Hashimoto and IOC president Thomas Bach will now declare the Olympics open. Hashimoto is a seven-time Olympian as a speed skater and cyclist, while Bach is a former fencing gold medallist.

1:46am - In the sky, 1800 drones form the 2020 Olympic emblem - that's pretty special.

Looks like a big floating ball above the stadium, slowly rotating to the song 'Imagine' by John Lennon. Beautiful.

Whangarei-born Keith Urban is one of those singing via video.

1:39am - The Olympic oath is being read by athletes, officials, coaches, standing in solidarity, committing to sport without doping or cheating or discrimination... in the spirit of Olympism.

1:37am - Feels like the whole Japanese team are here, as the parade nears an end with the obligatory fireworks.

1:32am - As next Olympic hosts, France are the penultimate team to enter, followed by current hosts Japan.

Not sure how much social distancing going on during this ceremony, but everyone seems to be wearing masks, so that's something.

1:30am - USA... USA... USA. The Americans are here, more than 600 in their team.

1:23am - Into the home stretch now, with Morocco entering at 189th and Mongolia next.

1:01am - At 143rd, Hungary are now entering, with still 63 nations to come. Fiji are here. 

New Zealand enter the stadium
New Zealand enter the stadium. Photo credit: Getty

12:55am - Yeah baby, New Zealand is in the building! Very tasteful traditional clocks worn by Hirini and Nyika.

Surfer Ella Williams certainly seems happy to be there.

12:52am - Old mate Pita Taufatofua is back as the Tongan flagbearer, with his oily body glistening. He carried the flag at Rio 2016, where he competed in taekwondo, and the 2018 Winter Olympics, where he contested cross-country skiing.

12:48am - Getting closer to New Zealand's entry, with Dominica arriving at 117th.

12:38am - If you're comparing, Sky Sport's coverage is beating TVNZ by about 15 nations. Saint Lucia on Sky are 99th into the stadium, Singapore on TVNZ are 83rd.

12:28am - Sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce helps  boxer Ricardo Brown carry the Jamaican flag. With no Usain Bolt for the first time in three Olympics, she carries the Caribbean nation's best hopes of track glory and already has six Olympic medals to her resume.

12:19am - Hang in there folks, we're only halfway to the NZ team, who will be 128th into the stadium. Cayman Islands are 64th, followed by Kenya.

12:16am - Cook Islands about to enter the stadium... they used to share the God Defend New Zealand national anthem.

12:09am - Having two people carry the same flag looks very awkward. Maybe next time someone will figure out an easier way to share the responsibility.

Australia enter the Olympic opening ceremony
Australia enter the Olympic opening ceremony. Photo credit: Getty

12:05am - A quick (!) count reveals 96 teams will have dual male-female flagbearers tonight, but Ghana is not one of them.

Actually, that count is a little unfair - our source (Wikipedia) doesn't list some flagbearers and Cape Verde have obviously entered into the spirit of proceedings with their tandem act.

12:01am - Australia are about to enter, led by swimmer Cate Campbell and basketballer Patty Mills - the first indigenous athlete to carry the Aussie flag.

Midnight - Estonia enter. Like NZ, they first competed in 1920 and hosted sailing for the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

11:54pm - Ukraine take the prize so far for biggest jump up the alphabet, followed by Uzbekistan, who have a gymnast, Oksana Chusovitina, competing at her eighth Olympics, debuting for Russia at Seoul 1988.

11:51pm - Iran follow Iraq into the stadium, then India.

11:50pm - Italy are a very colourful bunch and probably the biggest contingent so far.

Argentina enter the Olympic opening ceremony
Argentina enter the Olympic opening ceremony. Photo credit: Getty

11:47pm - Loving the snappy Antigua and Barbuda shirt-and-tie combination.

11:45pm - Albania are at their ninth Olympics and are represented by nine athletes.

11:43pm - The Argentinians are a jaunty bunch, bouncing into the stadium.

11:40pm - This Japanese alphabet has a lot to answer for... Ireland are next. They also have a male and female flagbearer for the first time.

11:39pm - Next, the Refugee Olympic Team... and then Iceland.

11:38pm - The national teams begin to enter the stadium in Japanese name order. First is Greece, the home of the ancient Olympics and host of the first Modern Games in 1896.

11:35pm - Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh accepts his Olympic Laurel, honouring his acheivements in development through sport. He is developing a new model for the Olympics with minimum impact for the planet and maximum impact for legacy of Paris 2024.

11:32pm - The carpenters celebrate their creation - the five rings representing the five continents America, Africa, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

11:28pm - Banks of lanterns are wheeled into the stadium, signifying tradition, with the Olympic rings also being guided into place.

11:24pm - A group of builders begin construction, but of what? They break out into dance.

11:20pm - A moment of silence to remember the victims of the COVID panemic, but also the Israeli delegation members murdered by terrorists at Munich 1972.

11:17pm - The flag is raised by members of the Japanese civil defence forces - land, sea and air - accompanied by a moving rendition of the Japanese national anthem.

11:14pm - The Japanese flag is carried into the stadium by former Olympians, Youth Olympians and a health care worker.

These Games were meant to be a 'thank you' to the world for helping Japan bounce back from that disaster, sadly ruined by another disaster - the COVID pandemic.

11:12pm - The in-stadium commentary is in French - the official langauge of the Olympic movement. IOC president Thomas Bach enters - he was a fencing gold medallist for Germany at Montreal 1976 - accompanied by Japanese emperor Naruhito.

11:11pm - The lone athlete is a nurse and a boxer, and represents solidarity. Dancers in the background are the inner workings of the human body, as it prepares for competition.

11:05pm - A countdown ends with a fireworks display outside the stadium, with its shape forming the 'zero'.

Opening scenes show athletes in training on treadmill, rowing machine and stationery bike.

11:01pm - The ceremony official begins, with a lone runner moving across the stadium, their shadow forming a spout.

A brief recap of Rio 2016 and the announcement of Tokyo's successful bid.

10:56pm - The underlying theme of this opening ceremony will be 'Moving Forward' from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The coronavirus has threatened to derail these Olympics and obviously forced a 12-month postponement that may still become cancellation.

This ceremony at least signifies we've got to the start-line, and it hopes to show what kind of world we can be, by tovercoming this challenge like no other.

10:10pm - Less than an hour away from the opening ceremony, Black Ferns captain Sarah Hirini and boxer David Nyika due to lead a small, but select NZ contingent into the Olympic Stadium.

They will wear a 'kakahu' clock and a pounamu pendant, and carry just one flag between them, after a change to Games rules that allows a male and female flagbearer to be named.

They'll also wear a black blazer, with a message embroidered inside: "We have been wearing the silver fern for 100 years. At the Tokyo Olympic Games, we come together to honour this legacy and share in its future

Sarah Hirini revs up her Black Ferns Sevens
Sarah Hirini revs up her Black Ferns Sevens. Photo credit: Photosport

"We are the New Zealand Team, 1920-2020. Ko Tatau te Kapa o Aotearoa."

Others in the contingent will include chef de mission Rob Waddell - a former Olympic rowing champion himself - surfers Billy Stairmand and Ella Williams, slalom canoeist Callum Gilbert, diver Anton Down Jenkins, tennis players Marcus Daniell and Michael Venus, and taekwondo fighter Tom Burns, along with support staff.

Ordered alphabetically, according to the Japanese alphabet, New Zealand will be the 129th nation to enter the stadium, between Niger and Nepal.

8:57pm - Welcome back for an early start to our coverage of the Olympic opening ceremony, with news of a major switch in the NZ line-up for this occasion.

Boxer David Nyika has received a late call-up to replace Hamish Bond, with the rowing legend now rescheduled to race tomorrow morning in an eights heat.

Bond - two-time Olympic pair champion with Eric Murray - was due to accompany Black Ferns Sevens captain Sarah Hirini at the head of the NZ contingent, but will now rest up back at the Games Village.

"Unfortunately, this late and unexpected change means I've had to make a very touch decision," he says. 

"Although being flagbearer is a huge honour, ultimately I came to Tokyo to compete and that means I need to prioritise being in the best possible condition for racing tomorrow."

Heavyweight Nyika is not scheduled to open his Olympic campaign until Tuesday, when he will fight Morocco's Youness Baalla in the Round of 16.

"This was hugely unexpected, but I couldn't be more proud to step up," says Nyika. "This is a huge honour and there's so many athletes who are deserving of this privilege, it's really special and I'm super proud."

After missing selection for Rios 2016, Nyika is making his Olympic debut, but has won gold medals at the last two Commonwealth Games at Glasgow 2014 and Gold Coast 2018.


3:10pm - That's that for the first day of the Tokyo Olympics' rowing regatta - and on the whole it was a good one for the Kiwis!

We'll take a break now, but be sure to join us later tonight for live updates of the opening ceremony.

Thanks, and goodbye for now!

Rowing - Day one 

Women's quadruple sculls - Heat one: Olivia Loe, Eve Macfarlane, Georgia Nugent-O'Leary and Ruby Tew
Result: Fourth place, into repechage

3:09pm - China and Poland advance from the second heat of the women's quadruple sculls.

Italy, Australia and France join New Zealand in the repechage, with the top two finishers to book their spots in the final.

2:56pm - Into the final 500m. It looks like a shootout between Netherlands and Germany.

Great Britian are dropping back. No sign of the Kiwis towards the front of the pack.

Germany get home first, followed by the Netherlands.

Great Britain will finish third, followed by the Kiwi crew. USA are well back in last place.

2:55pm - The Kiwis make their move, but have they left it too late? Past 1500m and it's Netherlands, Germany and Great Britain.

New Zealand still down in fourth.

2:53pm - Up to the 1000m mark, and it's Germany, Netherlands, Great Britain and New Zealand.

Can the Kiwi crew claw their way back into the top two?

2:52pm - Netherlands are out in front, Germany second. Great Britain third and New Zealand fourth at the 500m mark.

2:51pm - Prime spot for the Kiwi crew, placed in lane three. Great Britain get the better start, Germany are second.

2:50pm - They're away!

2:47pm - Here we go then, the last Kiwi crew of day one.

New Zealand will be up against Great Britain, Germany, Netherlands and the United States.

Men's quadruple sculls

2:45pm - Poland and Italy advance from heat two. Estonia, Norway and Germany drop into the repechage.

2:40pm - No Kiwis in the men's quadruple sculls. These two heats will see the first two finishers qualify for the final, with the next three teams going into the repechage.

Netherlands and Australia advance from heat one.

Women's double sculls

2:30pm - Heat two saw the crews from Romania, Canada and Italy qualify for the semi-finals, while heat three has Netherlands, Lithuania and Australia advance.

Russia and Germany are the two crews that will drop into the repechage.

2:11pm - One Kiwi boat left today: Olivia Loe, Eve Macfarlane, Georgia Nugent-O'Leary & Ruby Tew (women’s quad sculls) at 2:50pm.

Women's double sculls - Heat 1: Brooke Donoghue & Hannah Osborne
Result: Brooke Donoghue & Hannah Osborne win heat to book semi-final spot

Finish - What a statement from the Kiwi crew. Awesome performance and they earn direct entry into the semi-finals. The US crew comes home second with the French third.

1500m - This is so impressive after a fairly awful first 250m. Dominant display through 750m as the Kiwi boat leads in clear water from the USA, France and China.

1000m - What a 500m from the NZ boat as they smash through the field into the lead with pure power. 

500m - The Kiwi crew have brushed off a sluggish start and are third at the first marker with the French leading. 

1:59pm - Women's double sculls up next with the Kiwi crew in the of three heats.

Men's double sculls

1:57pm - The Dutch win heat three with comfort from Great Britain and Romania. Another Olympic record.

1:50pm - A couple of heats left and then we will get to the women's double sculls.

Men's double sculls: Heat two - Chris Harris & Jack Lopas
Result: Harris & Lopas finish third to qualify for semi-finals

TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 23:  Christopher Harris and Jack Lopas of Team New Zealand compete during the Menâ  s Double Sculls Heat 2 on Day 0 of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Sea Forest Waterway on July 23, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Finish - The Kiwi crew faded a bit late but held off the Irish for the automatic spot. Poland wins from Switzerland with the Kiwis third. Ireland go into the repechage. Great result for the young NZ crew.

1500m - This is crazy close through 1500. Poland looking good in front from New Zealand, Switzerland and Ireland.

1000m - The Kiwis slowing down a bit as the Poles lead at the halfway mark from the NZ, the Swiss and Ireland. 

500m - Fast start from the Kiwis but it's a super close heat. NZ boat leads by inches from Poland and Switzerland. The Irish are fourth - the Rio silver medallists.

Start - Just four crews in this heat - top three go through.

1:37pm - The French pair claim the first heat from China and ROC in an Olympic best time.

Kiwis still to come:

Chris Harris & Jack Lopas (men’s double sculls) - 1:40pm
Brooke Donoghue & Hannah Osborne (women’s double sculls) - 2pm
Olivia Loe, Eve Macfarlane, Georgia Nugent-O'Leary & Ruby Tew (women’s quad sculls) - 2:50pm

Women's single sculls: Heat six - Emma Twigg
Result: Emma Twigg wins heat to qualify for quarter-finals

Live Updates: Tokyo Olympics, July 23 - Kiwi rowers begin medal quest with sculling heats, opening ceremony

Wrap - Twigg looked fantastic and showed why she is considered a medal propsect for this event. Men's double sculls up next.

Finish - Twigg comes home with confidence to take out her heat, powering away in the final 500m to win from Souwer and Arsic.

1500m - The Kiwi looks to be coasting now with a quarter-final spot looking certain. Twigg continues to lead with clear water from Souwer and Arsic.

1000m - Twigg looks in excellent shape and form. She leads at the halfway mark from Arsic and Souwer.

500m - Twigg's had a decent start and her stroke looks super smooth. The Kiwi powers to the lead from Souwer (Netherlands) and Arsic (Serbia).

1:20pm - Okay - time for the second Kiwi in action today as Emma Twigg starts her campaign.

1:18pm - Magdalena Lobnig (Austria) wins heat five from Canadian Carling Zeeman and Maike Diekmann (Naminia) third.

1:09pm - Regatta favourite Victoria Thornley (Great Britain) comes home first in heat four from Jeannine Gmelin (Switzerland) and Sweede Lovisa Claesson.

1:01pm - Still two more heats until Kiwi Emma Twigg is in action.

12:59pm - Heat three is in the books. ROC's (Russian Olympic Committee) Hanna Prakastan dominant in victory from Jiang Yan form China and Veronica Tora Arana from Puerto Rico coming home third.

12:50pm - Heat two has just finished. Ireland's Sanita Puspure is through first, Mexico's Kenia Lechuga second, and Greece's Anneta Kyridou in third.

12:39pm - USA's Kara Kohler wins the first of the women's heats. She's joined in the quarter-finals by Bulgaria's Tatsiana Klimovich and Iran's Nazanin Malaei.

12:28pm - Germany's Oliver Zeidler takes out heat six. That's the last of the men's races, so we're now waiting for Emma Twigg in the women's single sculls.

Twigg's placed in heat six.

12:17pm - Martin gets the job done and he looks to be the man to beat in this event. 

12:15pm - Martin has an enormous lead through 1500m - he has been the most impressive of the scullers so far this morning. 

12:13am - Rio silver medallist Damir Martin is destroying the pack in his heat. He has a 100m lead through 500m.

12:10am - Jordan Parry happy to have the first one out of the way as he builds into his campaign.

"It's been a long time coming," he says.
"I was ready to be rusty and I'm happy to have this one under the belt.
"It's a releif to be in the quarters.
"I had visuals leading in, but being out there on my own is weird given my quad history.
"But happy with my process - this enviroment can be terryfing - but it's all good. I got the first few strokes out the way and settled in.
"Everyone comes out hot, so in the future, it's a matter of latching on and not giving them a peek."

12:01pm - So here is a rundown of the rest of the Kiwis in action in the regatta today:
Emma Twigg (women’s single sculls) - 1:20pm
Chris Harris & Jack Lopas (men’s double sculls) - 1:40pm
Brooke Donoghue & Hannah Osborne (women’s double sculls) - 2pm
Olivia Loe, Eve Macfarlane, Georgia Nugent-O'Leary & Ruby Tew (women’s quad sculls) - 2:50pm

11:55pm - 2016 Olympic silver medallist, Damir Martin is up in a couple of heats time. The Croatian rower was just pipped to gold by Mahe Drysdale in Rio.

11:50am - So four more heats of the men's singles - Emma Twigg not due up until about 1:30pm.

Men's single sculls - Heat two: Jordan Parry 
Result - Parry finishes second to earn quarter-final spot

Live Updates: Tokyo Olympics, July 23 - Kiwi rowers begin medal quest with sculling heats, opening ceremony

Wrap - So that's a direct route through to the quarters for Jordan Parry with a comfortable second spot.

Finish - Douskos comes home well ahead of the pack with Parry and Masias racing hard for second and the Kiwi powers home over the final 250 for second spot.

1500m - Parry has slipped back to third - he needs a top two to go straight through to the quarters.

1000m - Parry up to second as he edges ahead of Masias ... the Greek has gone out hard and may fade late.

500m - Through the first quarter of the race and Parry is in third spot behind Douskos of Greece and Masias of Peru. 

11:37am - Borch wins the heat as expected with Molnar from Hungary in second and Ferreira from Brazil third. Fleissner limped home on fourth so will have to go through the repechage.

11:31am - First heat is underway ... Kjetil Borch from Norway and the Czech Republic's Jan Fleissner expected to feature.

11:26am - Looks to be amazing conditions out on the waterway today...very little wind. Six heats in the men's single sculls with the Kiwi set to lineup on heat 2

11:19am - So about 10mins away from a big moment for Jordan Parry as he looks to fill the amazing shoes .. or feet I guess .. of Mahe Drysdale.

11am - Hello folks - live coverage will be underway from 11:30 when Jordan Parry is in action in the men's single sculls.

While the Tokyo Olympics will officially begin with the opening ceremony scheduled for 11pm NZ, Kiwi rowers will begin their medal quest, with heats in single sculls, double sculls and quad sculls.

Single sculler Emma Twigg hopes to reach the podium, after finishing fourth at the last two Olympics, while double sculls world champion Brooke Donoghue has a new partner - Hannah Osborne - in her quest for gold.

Rookie men's sculler Jordan Parry faces the daunting prospect of defending a legacy that saw Olympic legend Mahe Drysdale prevail at London 2012 and Rio 2016.

Kiwis in action


11:30am - Jordan Parry (men’s single sculls)

1:30pm - Emma Twigg (women’s single sculls)

1:40pm - Chris Harris & Jack Lopas (men’s double sculls)

2pm - Brooke Donoghue & Hannah Osborne (women’s double sculls)

2:50pm - Olivia Loe, Eve Macfarlane, Georgia Nugent-O'Leary & Ruby Tew (women’s quad sculls)

11pm - Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony