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Astronauts are celebrating their own Summer Olympics in space (satellites, too)

Astronauts on the International Space Station celebrate the olympics
(Image credit: Thomas Pesquet)

It's been a five-year wait for one of the biggest sporting events on the planet as the Summer Olympics kicked off in Tokyo on Friday (July 23), with the world watching the international competition. But what about the sports fans not on the planet? 

Astronauts onboard the International Space Station were able to watch the opening ceremony via a video feed on Friday and have been cheering on their respective countries. 

The station is commanded by Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and is home to three American astronauts, two Russian cosmonauts and one French astronaut with the European Space Agency. And apparently, the crew is getting into the Olympic spirit with their own cosmic games. 

Related: NASA 'AstrOlympics' posters show physical parallels of space & sports

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astronauts on board the International Space Station celebrate the Olympics

(Image credit: Thomas Pesquet)
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Astronauts on board the International Space Station celebrate the Olympics

(Image credit: Thomas Pesquet)
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Astronauts on board the International Space Station celebrate the Olympics

(Image credit: Thomas Pesquest )
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Flags of many nations at the Olympics in the International Space Station

(Image credit: Thomas Pesquet )
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Oleg Novitskyi watching the Olympics opening ceremony

(Image credit: Oleg Novitskyi)
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Oleg Novitskyi watching the Olympics opening ceremony

(Image credit: Oleg Novitskyi)
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Astronauts on board the International Space Station celebrate the olympics

(Image credit: Thomas Pesquet)

"The very first Space Olympics," French astronaut Thomas Pesquet wrote on Twitter Friday. "For crew cohesion, we put together a friendly competition between the #Soyuz team and the #CrewDragon team. With sports specific to space, mind you."

According to Pesquet, those space sports "ranged from synchronised floating or lack-of-floor routine to (very) long jumps and no-hand ball."

In this series of photos, you can see cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy holding Russia's national flag while watching the opening ceremony and other station astronauts getting in the Olympic spirit together under an array of national flags inside the station. 

A Maxar Earth-observation satellite also captured a stunning view of Japan's National Stadium in Tokyo and its surrounding sports complexes, where many Olympic events are being held, as they appeared from orbit. 

The Japan National Stadium in Tokyo is seen in this satellite image. (Image credit: Maxar Technologies)

"Here on the ISS, 400 kilometers away from Earth, we are very much looking forward to watching the Olympic Games in Tokyo. So good luck to all the athletes and all the best from space. We'll be watching," French astronaut Thomas Pesquet said in a video shared on the official Olympics Instagram. Pesquet shared most of the crew's Olympic celebration photos on Twitter and Flickr. 

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Alexander Cox

STAFF WRITER, E-commerce — Alex joined Space.com in June 2021 as staff writer covering space news, games, tech, toys and deals. Based in London, U.K. Graduating in June 2020, Alex studied Sports Journalism in the North East of England at Sunderland University. During his studies and since his graduation, Alex has been featured in local newspapers and online publications covering a range of sports from university rugby to Premier League soccer. In addition to a background in sports and journalism, Alex has a life-long love of Star Wars which started with watching the prequel trilogy and collecting toy lightsabers, he also grew up spending most Saturday evenings watching Doctor Who. 


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