John Legend, Keith Urban and More Perform 'Imagine' at Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony
In a surprise, pre-recorded appearance, John Legend, Keith Urban, Angélique Kidjo, Alejandro Sanz and the Suginami Junior Chorus performed John Lennon and Yoko Ono's song "Imagine" towards the end of the ceremony. The number was arranged by Hans Zimmer
Singing against a white background, the video performance played as athlete representatives from each country gathered below on the opening ceremony stage. Above the Olympic Stadium, event organizers had 1,800 drones form the Tokyo Olympics logo before making the globe.
Ono, 88, tweeted shortly before the ceremony about the song she wrote with her late husband, who was killed at age 40 in 1980.
"IMAGINE. John and I were both artists and we were living together, so we inspired each other. The song 'Imagine' embodied what we believed together at the time. John and I met – he comes from the West and I come from the East – and still we are together," wrote the Tokyo-born Ono.
Fifty years ago in 1971, Lennon and Ono co-wrote "Imagine" with its lyrics being inspired in part by Ono's 1964 book Grapefruit, which aims to help "readers imagine a peaceful world without illusion in the present moment; without the divisive control mechanisms of borders, nationalism, warfare, religious constructs or ownership, where life and all its riches are shared in peace and harmony worldwide," according to a statement from the opening ceremony organizers.
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"We have this oneness and 'the whole world would eventually become one' is the sense that we will all be very happy together. All these instructions are for people for how to spend eternity, because we have lots of time," Ono said in a statement.
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The song's message of unity and peace comes as the world continues to grapple with the COVID pandemic, which forced the Summer Games to be postponed by a year. In addition, the host country has faced immense criticism from local residents regarding the continuation of the Olympics amid the rise of COVID cases due to the delta variant. Many fear that hosting the international competitions will result in superspreader events as the country is largely unvaccinated due to a relatively slow rollout and COVID cases continue to rise amid the threat of the delta variant. In addition, major Olympic sponsors and leaders in Japan continue to speak out against moving forward with the Games.
To learn more about Team USA, visit TeamUSA.org. Watch the Tokyo Olympics beginning July 23rd and the Tokyo Paralympics beginning August 24th on NBC