Musicians from around the world came together to perform John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “Imagine” for the opening ceremony at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday (July 23), and among them were John Legend and Keith Urban.
The performance kicked off with children’s choruses from Asia singing on the floor of a mostly empty Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, before the set melded different genres of music from around the world. Four-time Grammy winner Angelique Kidjo — who represented Africa with her fusion of West African traditions with R&B, jazz, and more — danced and sang on a screen. Europe was represented by Spanish singer and composer Alejandro Sanz.
The performance quieted down as Legend, representing the Americas, appeared on the screen to sing his parts. Finally, country star Urban, who hails from New Zealand, was introduced, representing Oceania.
As the NBC anchors noted after the performance, this is not the first time that Lennon and Ono’s anthem about world peace and nations united has been performed at the Olympics. This latest set marks the third straight Olympics where the 1971 hit has been performed. As the Olympics Twitter feed reminded followers, past performances include the 2012 London Games, PyeongChang in 2018, Torino in 2006, and Atlanta in 1996.
After the “Imagine” performance at the Tokyo Games, Sanz tweeted, “These Olympic Games are already history. A Cry of hope for the world we imagine, TOGETHER.” He also tagged his fellow performers, and shared a video of them taping the performance in front of green screens, and sharing the significance of the song.
Check out some of the clips of the performance, Sanz’ tweet and video, and revisit past performances of “Imagine” at the Olympics below:
— Haydn Dunn (@HaydnDunn) July 23, 2021
— Nuala Hayden (@NualaHayden) July 23, 2021
These Olympic Games are already history. A cry of hope for the world we imagine, TOGETHER 💪 #Tokyo2020@KeithUrban @johnlegend @angeliquekidjo @HansZimmer #StrongerTogether #Olympics @Olympics pic.twitter.com/ekUfHMGRRZ
— Alejandro Sanz (@AlejandroSanz) July 23, 2021
This is not the first time we've seen 'Imagine' featured at an #OpeningCeremony of an Olympic Games.
— Olympics (@Olympics) July 23, 2021