Tom Goldman

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Updated July 23, 2021 at 4:01 PM ET

TOKYO — In some ways, the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics looks very normal. Delegations of athletes decked out in clothes representing their countries march triumphantly into the stadium, waving flags. A beautifully choreographed spectacle from the host country, Japan, celebrates its art and traditions.

It's Opening Ceremony day in Tokyo, heralding the official start to another Olympics. Although we've already had two days of sports competition, there's the knowledge that once the smoke settles after tonight's ceremony-ending fireworks, the gates are flung open to 16 straight days of unprecedented drama.

As a reporter, it'll be fine to have a daily plan — but as always, I'll be ready to wad it up and throw it away as unforeseen stories capture the imagination.

So at this point, there is a sameness about these Tokyo Games.

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The Tokyo Summer Olympics officially begin Friday with the Opening Ceremony.

But the sports actually start today (8 p.m. ET).

Host nation Japan kicks off competition with a softball game against Australia.

With three first-day games (the other two are top-ranked U.S. vs Italy and Mexico vs Canada), softball is in the Olympic spotlight after being out of it for the past 13 years.