Bolt, never a fan of morning action and slightly tentative after dropping a starting block on his foot earlier in the week, was in the last of seven first round heats and duly won it in 20.66 seconds without ever getting out of second gear.
Watched by another feeble crowd, the sport's biggest name did the minimum required to advance to the semi-finals later in the day, with the final scheduled for 1605 GMT on Saturday.
"I'm not really a morning person so I'm just happy to get through," Bolt said after advancing as the 21st-fastest qualifier.
"My foot is feeling better. It was sore but we've been working on it for four days," he added.
Bolt, who set the current world record of 19.19 in Berlin four years ago, is the fastest in the field this season with 19.73 in Paris six weeks ago.
American Tyson Gay would probably have been his main challenger, having clocked 19.74, but the 2007 champion misses the championships after a positive drugs test.
Bolt's Jamaican team mate Warren Weir, bronze medallist in last year's Olympics and the next-fastest in the field, also progressed comfortably, as did Nickel Ashmeade, fresh from his fifth place in the 100 metres final, and Jason Livermore as Jamaica bid to match their London Olympics podium sweep.
Yohan Blake, the silver medallist in London, is absent through injury while France's Christophe Lamaitre, world bronze medallist in 2011, also withdrew after suffering an injury racing the 100m earlier in the week.


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