THE Tokyo Olympic Games are officially underway after Friday's opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium. 

The honour fell to Japanese tennis ace Naomi Osaka to light the flame.

It marked the official opening of Tokyo 2020, a year later than planned, and in the midst of a global pandemic.

The ceremony lasted nearly three hours, with Team South Africa eventually coming out as the 179th nation in order of the Japanese alphabet. 

A contingent of 35 ASA athletes left for Tokyo on Tuesday, where they will be taking part in different heats and field events, as they aim to increase the number of the medal count won during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Brazil.

The athletics team, four years ago, brought home four medals – two gold (Wayde van Niekerk in men’s 400m and Caster Semenya in women’s 800m) and two silvers (Luvo Manyonga in men’s long-jump and Sunette javelin throw).

The overall Team SA brought back home 10, which could be stretched this year considering the quality field that the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) sent to the Asian country.

TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 23: Team South Africa walk in
TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 23: Team South Africa walk in the parade during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on July 23, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Xavier Laine/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 23: Team South Africa walk in
TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 23: Team South Africa walk in the parade during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on July 23, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Xavier Laine/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 23: Team South Africa walk in
TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 23: Team South Africa walk in the parade during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on July 23, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Xavier Laine/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 23: Team South Africa walk in
TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 23: Team South Africa walk in the parade during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on July 23, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Xavier Laine/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 23: Team South Africa walk in
TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 23: Team South Africa walk in the parade during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on July 23, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Xavier Laine/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 23: Naomi Osaka of Team Japan
TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 23: Naomi Osaka of Team Japan holds up the Olympic torch to light the Olympic cauldron during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on July 23, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 23: Naomi Osaka of Team Japan
TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 23: Naomi Osaka of Team Japan holds up the Olympic torch to light the Olympic cauldron during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on July 23, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 23: Naomi Osaka of Team Japan
TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 23: Naomi Osaka of Team Japan holds up the Olympic torch to light the Olympic cauldron during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on July 23, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)