IRELAND’S Olympic team won praise upon entering the Olympics opening ceremony after making a respectful gesture during the Parade of Nations.

A small number of athletes from the Irish delegation entered the purpose-built Olympic Stadium in Tokyo as each country sent their representatives.

Boxers Kellie Harrington and Brendan Irvine led their teammates in to the unusual ceremony, which has been hit by increasing coronavirus cases in Japan.

There has been minimal cheering as fewer than 1000 people are able to attend the major ceremony, while spectators are being urged to remain quiet to limit the spread of Covid.

The number of positive cases affecting individuals with Olympic accreditations rose by 19 today, taking the number who have tested positive since July 1 past 100 mark.

Three of the latest to test positive were athletes, one of whom was residing in the Olympic Village. One was an athlete from the Netherlands while there were two more cases confirmed by the Czech Republic, taking the number of positives in the Czech camp alone to six.

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Despite the many challenges facing the event, Ireland’s entrance to the ceremony brought smiles to many people’s faces.

As the team walked in they stopped to bow to representatives from the host nation – a gesture which is very important in Japanese culture. It can have various meanings but in this context represented Team Ireland’s gratitude and respect to their hosts.

They were the only team to honour the Japanese tradition by bowing when they entered.

Viewers in Ireland expressed praise as they watched the team members bow. Dublin-based actor Simon Delaney wrote: “Already a magic moment, watching the Irish team bow to their hosts as they entered the stadium. A touch of class. Come on Ireland!!”

Another said the moment brought them tears, while Irish group The Sanctuary Runners, who bring together migrants, asylum seekers and refugees through sport, shared their praise.

“RESPECT given and received by our wonderful Irish team in @Tokyo2020 as they bow upon entering the stadium. Well done everyone - Showing respect to all so important in everything we do.”

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“Proud seeing our Irish athletes bow to the greeters. That's the spirit,” added musician Col Patterson.

And those outside of Ireland were also pleased to see the gesture. Nick McCarvel, an Olympic news producer based in New York described it as a “really class move”.

California-based gymnastics podcaster Jessica O’Beirne noted the moment too, adding: “Ooooo, Ireland stopping to bow in unison. Big points, big points in my book.”