Maskless Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan teams make for awkward moment at Olympic opening ceremoney

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics - The Tokyo 2020 Olympics Opening Ceremony
Tokyo 2020 Olympics – The Tokyo 2020 Olympics Opening Ceremony – Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan – July 23, 2021. Flag bearers Kanykei Kubanychbekova of Kyrgyzstan and Denis Petrashov of Kyrgyzstan lead their contingent during the athletes’ parade at the opening ceremony REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

July 23, 2021

TOKYO (Reuters) -Kyrgyzstan’s Olympic team paraded maskless into Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium at Friday’s Games opening ceremony, marking an awkward contrast with all the national teams who had preceded them in masks – and in accordance with COVID-19 protocols.

Just one of the central Asian country’s athletes covered his face, with the other members of the small delegation, including its two flag bearers, waving and smiling as they walked in.

A short while later the Tajikistan team marched in similarly maskless, while Pakistan’s two flagbearers also chose not to cover their faces, unlike the vast majority of the other participants at the ceremony.

Tokyo 2020 organisers did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the delegations without masks.

(Reporting by John Stonestreet; Editing by Hugh Lawson)