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Wizolympics 2020 Opening Ceremony

Welcome, welcome, readers, to the Opening Ceremony of the 2020 Wizolympics! I’m Barnabas Cuffe, editor of the Daily Prophet, and it is my honor to be reporting once again on this thrilling event to kick off another Wizoylmpics.

 

 

We’re here at Kahaku Dome in Tokyo, the home of the 492nd Wizolympic Games. Yes, we do realize that the 2016 Games were dubbed the 502nd, but it turns out we miscounted. You see, we wizards are rather lacking when it comes to arithmetic since it doesn’t tend to be included in the curriculum beyond age 10. But we’ve definitely gotten it right this time! Or so we hope.

Wizards were humiliated in the very first Olympic Games in 776 BC, in which they competed against, and lost horribly to, Muggles. Wizards had a way with wands, but when it came to physical prowess, they were severely lacking in comparison to Muggles, who were accustomed to manual labor. And so, ashamed of their defeat and determined to prove themselves, three wizards Alastor, Agamede, and Arguron took to the mountains sans wands in an attempt to survive and persevere using only their bodies and minds. Their miraculous emergence two weeks later inspired the magical community to hold their own Wizolympic Games in which they could test their mettle through athletic feats both with and without the use of magic. The Expedition Wandless event commemorates those three trailblazers.

Usually, these Games coincide with their Muggle counterpart. However, due to a widespread virus that has affected the Muggle community more severely than the magical community, their Games have been postponed until next year. While wizards are susceptible as well, the spread has been slower and symptoms tend to be milder. Top Healers and researchers in magical medicine have devised a number of effective methods of prevention and treatment, allowing us to carry on with the Games with certain health precautions in place. Stay tuned for a full list of rules and advice to keep yourself and others safe. We’d hate to bring any germs back home to our Muggle neighbors.

Certain contact sports have been canceled this year – namely, Body-Bind Surfing – as well as Super Colossal Wizard Chess due to the increased risk posed to the elderly competitors. Many of the athletes in that event are centenarians and still have a few good years of chess left in them that we’d hate to cut short.

Spectators have been asked to cast Bubble-Head Charms to lessen the spread of disease among the crowd, and a Temperature Line surrounds Kahaku Dome to prevent anyone with a fever from entering. Speaking of the dome, take a look at this remarkable venue! It has been enchanted to reflect the biodiversity of the host nation, including islands with miniature mountains and enlarged bonsai trees surrounded by saltwater and spotted with koi ponds. In just a little while, it will be filled with teams entering for the Parade of Nations.

Now, you may remember that at the previous Games in Rio, the Tokyo mascot was unveiled to be Doppo the Demiguise. Funny thing about Demiguises, though… They tend to disappear. Doppo seems to have gotten a bit camera shy, perhaps a little anxious about the current state of the world, and gone invisible. Not to worry – his handler is on the lookout. Please report any sightings to a member of staff.

Luckily, a replacement has stepped, or should I say flown, up to the plate. Here he comes now – isn’t he magnificent? It’s Hayao the Hoo-hoo! A Hoo-hoo is a Japanese firebird, a variety of phoenix. He is truly rising from the ashes of an unfortunate situation, and we appreciate it.

To kick things off, we’re in for a real treat from the Japanese wizarding school, Mahoutokoro. They are world-renowned for Quidditch training, so it’s no surprise that their students and faculty are providing a demonstration of their prowess in the air with some fabulous formation flying. While older students are on broomsticks, the younger children are flying on giant storm petrels, which take them to and from school each day. Their robes range in color from light pink to gold, indicating how far along in their education and mastery of magic they are. And now we’re being treated to some floral fireworks, as the flyers conjure trails of beautiful cherry blossoms behind them, creating different shapes in midair. They’ve made stars, swirls, a dragon, a phoenix (perhaps an homage to Hayao?), and looks like they’re concluding with the official Wizolympics logo of four crossed wands. Stunning work!

Next up, the teams will be arriving at the stadium by Portkey for the Parade of Nations. A number of countries have taken their own precautions to avoid athletes falling ill before their events. Notably absent this year is New Zealand, who managed to completely eradicate the virus among both the Muggle and wizarding populations and opted to stay home in an effort to keep things that way. Terrible shame for their athletes but understandable considering the circumstances.

Some other countries are indeed competing in the Games but have opted to send representatives for their athletes to the Opening Ceremonies. Holding a traditional red envelope as their Portkey, here come some marching terracotta warriors from China in place of their wizards and witches.

And what’s this from Denmark? I recognize a familiar face – that certainly looks like Ivan Peterson of Greenland, the 2016 Galleon medalist in fencing for his fence built out of sand, which quite literally obliterated the competition. But – can it be? – yes, he’s made entirely of LEGOs! And he’s come through a little LEGO Portkey too!

In similar fashion, Canada has sent look-alike representatives as well via their maple syrup bottle Portkey. Some stunning spellwork has produced ghostlike apparitions in the form of each athlete. You can see right through them!

There’s a beautiful and clever display from the Austrian team. They’ve come rolling into the stadium in giant Swarovski crystal balls! That must have taken a few careful Engorgement Charms and I suspect some protective enchantments to prevent any breakage of the delicate crystal. What a novel idea to keep the athletes safe from the virus and simultaneously show off some decorative flair. They’re positively sparkling!

Here’s the United States with a Statue of Liberty figurine – some of the Americans have the stars and stripes emblazoned across their mouths on face masks (very patriotic of them). Others seem unperturbed by the health precautions and are just waving their flags.

Not seeing a lot of smiles from the Germans today. Feeling a bit anxious, perhaps? Actually, it looks like the German team has magicked away their mouths! I suppose that could be one way to avoid coughing on anyone else, but I certainly hope they can breathe well through their noses.

I see the Haitian flag, but it doesn’t look like anyone came with it. Or am I mistaken? I think I just spotted a disembodied hand waving! It seems the athletes from Haiti are all wearing invisibility cloaks, hoping that may provide some protection.

The home team is sporting some rather interesting cloaks as well. They seem to be almost crackling with electricity along the edges. The Japanese are keeping their distance from each other, and the other nations have given them a wide berth too. Why could that be? Oh, I see it now! A staff member has gotten too close and seems to have been gently zapped! That’s one way to discourage invading one’s personal space.

Now that everyone’s here, Wizolympic Commissioner Adelaide Berger welcomes the crowd:

Good evening, and welcome to the 492nd Wizolympics, due to a miscount and a recount we’re quite sure we’ve gotten right this time. Now more than ever, it is my joy and honor to be here with you all today. In times such as these, it is so important for us to come together as a global magical community to show strength in the face of adversity and use our creative thinking to adapt to difficult situations, both on and off the playing fields.

Our hearts go out to our Muggle friends, who were unable to hold their Games this year, and we wish them all the best next year. As we discovered during the very first Olympics, Muggles and wizards have different strengths. We learned the value of challenging ourselves from that experience, and our particular abilities have allowed us to carry on with this tradition here in Tokyo despite unfortunate circumstances. We look forward to a Wizolympics to remember.

Japanese Minister of Magic Keiko Ishiguro has the honor of presenting the ceremonial salamander to Berger for the lighting of the Fire Crab. She hands the salamander to Berger, and the two respectfully bow to each other before Berger places the salamander in the torch bowl, the Fire Crab shoots its flames, the salamander catches fire, and the crowd goes wild!

Hayao the Hoo-hoo is making his rounds again to cheers and applause while the Mahoutokoro students resume their loop the loops, this time setting their cherry blossoms aflame. The flowers burn brightly without being consumed, forming a blazing 2020 Wizolympic symbol.

That wraps up a truly spectacular Opening Ceremony! The Prophet will continue to provide coverage throughout the Games. Keep an eye out for the latest updates and reporting on all events. Happy Wizolympics!

Laurie Beckoff

My Harry Potter journey began in 2000 when I was six and continued through a bachelor's thesis and master's dissertation on medievalism in the series. I'm a Gryffindor from New York City with a passion for theatre, fantasy, Arthurian legend, and science fiction.