Why Arisa Tsubata and a Treadmill Were the Breakout Stars of the Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony

Japanese boxer and nurse Arisa Tsubata failed to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics but ended up stealing the show at the Opening Ceremony thanks to her treadmill running.

By Tierney Bricker Jul 24, 2021 12:07 AMTags
Watch: 2020 Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony: Must-See Moments

Didn't get a chance to workout this morning? Don't worry, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony is here to remind you!

After a year-long delay because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Games are finally here and kicked off on July 23 with a scaled-down event that was still filled with athletes, performances and, of course, memes in the making. And the true breakout star of the Opening Ceremony? Well, it was a treadmill. 

Japanese boxer Arisa Tsubata, who is also a nurse who was on the frontlines treating COVID-19 patients, rightfully stole the spotlight during the first performance with her impressive running skills, alongside other socially distanced athletes who were exercising on a rowing machine and a stationary bike, respectively. 

Tsubata sadly did not qualify for the Games after the IOC cancelled the boxing qualifier in June due to the pandemic, so we're glad to to see the 27-year-old athlete still get her time to shine at the Olympics, even if she was forced to run alone in front of millions of people. 

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According to Internet reports, the performance represented the "invisible bond" between the isolated athletes, who were connected on stage through light projections. After an interlude of dancers portraying a "web of emotions" through the use of elastics, the focus was once again back on Tsubata, getting back on the treadmill, running alone. 

Clive Rose/Getty Images

But, because the Internet is gonna Internet, Twitter had some less, um, abstract thoughts on the treadmill seen around the world.

(This story was originally published on Friday, July 23, 2021 at 5:11 a.m. PST)

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