The Olympic teams of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan paraded mostly maskless into Tokyo's Olympic Stadium at the Games opening ceremony on July 23, in stark contrast with all the national teams who had preceded them wearing masks in accordance with COVID-19 protocols.
Just four members of Kyrgyzstan's team wore masks, with the seven other members of the delegation, including its two flag bearers, waving and smiling maskless as they walked in during the ceremony, which was broadcast live around the world.
Most of Tajikistan's team also marched into the stadium maskless a short time afterwards, while Pakistan's two flag bearers also chose not to cover their faces, unlike the vast majority of the other participants at the ceremony.
Tokyo 2020 organizers did not immediately comment about the delegations without masks.
Tajik officials initially denied the existence of any coronavirus infections in the country when the pandemic first started last year. Since admitting the virus had hit the country, officials have been accused of underreporting cases and covering up the extent of its spread.
Health officials in Kyrgyzstan have long complained of noncompliance with recommendations on mask use and social distancing by the country's citizens.