The conspicuous absence of the word "celebrating" in the Japanese version of Emperor Naruhito's opening declaration for the Tokyo Olympics reflects a public deeply divided over whether the Games should be going ahead amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Postponed a year by the global outbreak of COVID-19, the Olympics officially began Friday with a spectatorless ceremony at the 68,000-capacity National Stadium.

"I declare open the games of Tokyo celebrating the 32nd Olympiad of the modern era," the emperor said according to the official English translation provided by the Imperial Household Agency.