Tokyo Olympics drone display

Tokyo Olympics drone display showcases most stunning aerial art yet: photos

The Tokyo Olympics drone display featured in this year’s Tokyo 2020 Opening Ceremony was perhaps the most stunning use of drones for artistry yet.

Tokyo Olympics drone display
A drone display is seen over the top of the stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on July 23, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Toru Hanai/Getty Images.

At the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony, more than 1,800 drones graced the skies in the form of Earth, rotating above the Olympic Stadium. The display was highly engineered, and with the 1,824 drones, the art had a more three-dimensional look than most other drone light shows that we’ve grown used to. When drone light shows kicked off just a few short years ago, they were fairly flat, with simplistic shapes. As more drones get added to the mix, drones are able to fly in more 3D arrangements, and the way these drones fly seamlessly together is among the most technically challenging — and beautiful — feats we’ve seen yet.

Tokyo Olympics drone display athletes
Athletes mrach in the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on July 23, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images.

The drones at the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony flew to the tune of John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

This year’s Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony took place on Friday night as thousands of athletes convened to march in the Parade of Nations. But this year, the stands had no fans. Outside of the athletes, attendance was small, with notable people in attendance including Japan’s Emperor Naruhito, IOC President Thomas Bach and U.S. First Lady Jill Biden (who has already witnessed a drone light show as part of the Joe Biden victory speech back in November 2020).

Tokyo Olympics drone display
Another one of the shapes that the drones flew in during the Opening Ceremony. Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images.

And the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (yes, they’re keeping the 2020 name, despite running in 2021) are still impeded by COVID-19. COVID-19 cases in Japan are higher than they’ve been in six months, and some athletes have not been able to compete after testing positive.

Some people in Japan have been staging protests against the Olympics being held at all — even though there are no fans in attendance.

Tokyo Olympics drone protest
Police officers block anti-Olympics protesters during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games as drones fly in the background. Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty Images.

Drone light shows are not new to the Olympics. Intel set what at the time was a new record for most drones flown simultaneously, sending 1,218 drones flew over the Opening Ceremony of the 2018 Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. Those were for Winter Olympics, where drones recreated the shape of icons like a snowboarder and the Olympic rings. A smaller performance also occurred at the 2018 Olympics closing ceremony, where drones flew in shapes such as the Olympics mascot, Soohorang, the white tiger, and a heart.

Clearly drones are becoming more common as entetainment at the Olympics. The question is: when (if ever?) will drone racing become an Olympic sport?

Athletes and volunteers watch a drones flying to form a globe in the sky over the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Photo by Andrej ISAKOVIC / AFP.

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