John Legend, Keith Urban, Angélique Kidjo Lead ‘Imagine’ Performance at Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony

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Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony - Credit: Leon Neal/AP
Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony - Credit: Leon Neal/AP

John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “Imagine” was once again featured at an Olympic ceremony, with John Legend, Keith Urban, Angélique Kidjo and more collaborating on a version to kick off the Tokyo games.

This version of “Imagine” was arranged by composer Hans Zimmer, and along with the aforementioned artists, the performance also featured Alejandro Sanz and the Suginami Junior Chorus.

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On Twitter, Ono expressed her support for the performance writing, “John and I were both artists and we were living together, so we inspired each other. The song ‘Imagine’ embodied what we believed together at the time. John and I met — he comes from the West and I come from the East — and still we are together.”

“Imagine” has been performed at multiple Olympics over the years. Most recently, a cadre of Korean pop and rock stars — Ha Hyun-woo, Jeon In-kwon, Lee Eun-mi and Ahn Ji-young — performed it at the 2018 winter games in PyeongChang, while it was previously performed by a children’s choir to help close out the 2012 games in London. Peter Gabriel also sang the song at the 2006 Turin Olympics, and Stevie Wonder performed it at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

As the International Olympic Committee noted in a statement, Lennon himself saw a connection between the song and the Olympics, saying in an interview not long before his death, “We’re not the first to say ‘Imagine No Countries’ or ‘Give Peace a Chance’, but we’re carrying that torch, like the Olympic torch, passing it hand to hand, to each other, to each country, to each generation. And that’s our job.”

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