TOKYO – Lighting the Olympic cauldron, even during Games somewhat deflated by the coronavirus pandemic, is one of the sport’s top honors.
Names as big as Wayne Gretzky and Muhammad Ali have made it, but also an obscure archer and a 12-year-old schoolgirl.
So predicting who will do it at this year’s opening ceremony on Friday must be nearly an impossible task, right? Well, consider the New York Times correctly predicted in 2016 that Marathon bronze medalist Vanderlei de Lima would get the honor. In 2012, a group of unknown teenagers were chosen to light the cauldron, but our pick of rower Steven Redgrave was the last top athlete to carry the torch, so we’re taking some of the credit for that.
Can we do three for three? Here are the top contenders – all Japanese, of course – to play the biggest role in Friday’s opening ceremony.