The Summer Olympics officially got underway Friday (July 23), although the event looked much different than in years past. The stadium was nearly empty and some of the performances were virtual rather than in-person.
Australian country star Keith Urban was one of four artists who came together for a virtual performance of “Imagine,” the 1971 hit written by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. John Legend, Afropop artist Angélique Kidjo and Spanish singer Alejandro Sanz joined Urban, with each artist representing a different part of the world: The Americas, Oceania, Africa, and Europe.
This wasn’t the first time that Lennon and Ono song about world peace has been performed at the Olympics. Past performances include the PyeongChang Games in 2018, 2012 London Games, Torino in 2006, and Atlanta in 1996.
Prior to Friday’s airing of the collaboration, Urban shared this thoughts about being a part of the historic ceremony and his love for the song on Instagram, saying: “It’s one of those songs that just feels like it’s always been there. What lyrics stand out to me? Just the ones between the beginning and the end. It’s an amazing song….Even if you don’t speak English and don’t know what’s being said in ‘Imagine,’ you can feel it.”
View this post on Instagram
Yoko Ono took to Twitter following the performance to express her support.
“IMAGINE. 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,” Ono wrote.
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.#IMAGINE50 #Olympics pic.twitter.com/mj2wJEUIiV
— Yoko Ono ☁️ (@yokoono) July 23, 2021
Three days before his death in 1980, John Lennon himself connected the song to the Olympic games, according to the International Olympic Committee.
“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.”
Watch Keith Urban, John Legend, Angélique Kidjo and Alejandro Sanz sing “Imagine” in the video below.