Today in a nutshell: Rather than the calm before the storm, the start of Tokyo 2020 so far looks more like the storm before the storm, with the Covid disruption in the camps and a host of problems created by the organizers.
Key moments of tomorrow: There will be a bit of sport, but all eyes will be on what will be one of the strangest opening ceremonies in Olympic history, as Tokyo puts on a great show for the world in a stadium that people must stay away from. .
You wouldn’t have wished Tokyo Olympics prep on your worst enemy, right? As the week progressed, the news for the organizers seemed to get worse and worse, if the sponsors were too embarrassed to be associated with Tokyo 2020, the resignation of composer Keigo Oyamada from the opening ceremony, quickly followed by the dismissal of him. director Kentaro Kobayashi for a joke about the 1998 Holocaust, and a constant procession of athletes who withdrew due to positive coronavirus tests, including team GB shooter and medal contender Amber Hill and the five-member team from Guinea.
There has also been a rapid U-turn after The Guardian revealed that organizers had issued a dictation against displaying images of players kneeling before soccer games on official social media accounts.
We already did some sport. Japan opened the Games on Wednesday with a softball victory against Australia watched by our Justin McCurry, the only Western journalist at Fukushima Stadium. It was originally chosen as one of the host stadiums to show how the region had recovered from the devastating tsunami and nuclear accident a decade ago. Japan’s 8-1 victory did nothing but benefit their hopes of repeating their 2008 gold medal, but as for the bigger picture, Justin noted:
The opening day of the Tokyo Games, held in the shadow of the coronavirus, ended up transmitting a different message: that the collective trauma unleashed by a nuclear accident, and now by a global pandemic, was never going to be extinguished with the blow of a bat. . .
Also Wednesday was the surprising result of Sweden beating the United States women’s soccer team 3-0 in their first match. It wasn’t just that it ended the USWNT’s 44-game winless streak, it was the abject form of its defeat.
Early action on Thursday has seen the opening group games in men’s soccer competition. The selection for today’s matches appears to be hosting Japan against South Africa and Germany against Brazil. Tonight is another round of softball pool games, with the United States facing Canada, Australia looking to bounce back against Italy and Japan facing Mexico. They start at 10 at night in Japan.
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Image of the day
🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧 GB team update
Team GB’s collective preparations are getting the full Covid outage treatment. As well as a medal of hope Amber hillRetreat, 400 m hurdles Jessie knight has revealed that she is one of six British track and field athletes forced into isolation after coming into close contact with a passenger on her flight to Tokyo. Mark England, Team GB’s mission chief at these Games, has warned everyone at home to buckle up for a bumpy ride. Mohamed sbihi He will make history tomorrow as the GB team’s first Muslim Olympic flag bearer. Keely Hodgkinson feeling optimistic about his prospects in the 800 meters, he says to Sean Ingle: “Is it ridiculous for me to win a medal? I do not believe it.”
🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 USA team update.
It won’t just be that 3-0 loss that worries the USWNT, but the low level of performance. Beau Dure has written to us not to panic. Still.
This was not a slight loss or even a penalty shootout loss like the one that broke the heart of the USWNT against the Swedes at the 2016 Games, it was a 3-0 blowout in which the Americans were comfortably second better. Megan Rapinoe was typically outspoken in her post-game assessment: “We got our butts kicked.”
🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺 Australia update
While the softball team had a steamy moment against Japan, Sam Kerr starred as the Matildas opened with a 2-1 soccer win over New Zealand on Wednesday. Since most of the competitors withdrew due to positive Covid tests, jumper Jamie Kermond has made a name for himself by being suspended for a positive test for cocaine use. There was also upset after AOC chief John Coates appeared to order Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to attend Tokyo’s opening ceremony despite concerns about her overseas travel during the pandemic. Palaszczuk tried to downplay the incident, saying that he had known Coates for years and confirming that he would go. On a more positive note, Brisbane’s bid has finally been confirmed as the venue for the Summer Olympics and Paralympics for 2032, news that could cheer up a nation where half the population has suddenly found itself under lockdowns again. Covid.
🇯🇵🇯🇵🇯🇵 Hosts and beyond
I said last week that perhaps like no other game in history, Japan’s representatives need to get off to a good start. Japan finished sixth on the medal table in Rio with 12 golds and an overall record, and it may be even better than Tokyo, despite not having local crowds to shout. Justin McCurry has met his best medal hopes for you:
Japan’s Olympic committee, like those in other countries, focuses on athlete safety rather than formal medal goals. That said, Japan is quietly optimistic about seeing its athletes win enough medals to rank in the top four behind the United States, China and athletes representing Russia.
Speaking of which, Russian athletes are also expected to make a big impact at the Games, even if, with the ongoing scandal over the Sochi doping scandal and the ensuing cover-ups, they compete as a team that is definitely not Russia. Our Moscow correspondent, Andrew Roth, has been analyzing their preparations and concluded:
The ROC team, as Russia will be called, is still expected to take third place in the medal table. And when it comes to all the other topics, athletes have been told that the easiest way to end a conversation is simple: “No comment.”
Did you know
The torch used for the Tokyo Olympic Torch Relay was made to look like one of Japan’s symbols: the cherry blossom.
Key events on Friday, July 23
All events are listed here in local Tokyo time. Add one hour for Sydney, subtract eight hours for London, thirteen hours for New York, and seventeen hours for San Francisco. I promise you, between us, we will have learned the trick of these time zone changes at the end of the Games.
🌟If you only look at one thing: opening ceremony, 8 pm (that’s 9:00 pm in Sydney, noon in London, 7:00 am in New York, and 4:00 am in San Francisco). She’s had an incredibly interrupted gestation with more drama this week, but despite all that, who doesn’t love an Olympic Games opening ceremony? There’s even a bit of news for seasoned Olympic watchers: the teams in the athletes’ parade will appear in their alphabetical order in Japanese, which should mix it up a bit, although, as always, Greece goes first. We’ll obviously have live blog coverage, and you’ll get your next daily briefing shortly after you’re done, with everything you need to know about Saturday, when the sports action really begins.
8.30 am Rowing (so it’s staying up until 12.30am in the UK) – Men’s and Women’s Single, Double and Quadruple Scull Heats. Team GB is expecting a good performance again in the water, and the women’s quadruple sculls, Mathilda Hodgkins-Byrne, Hannah Scott, Charlotte Hodgkins-Byrne and Lucy Glover are a particularly strong combination to be reckoned with.
Archery at 9 a.m. M. (so it’s 10am in Sydney) – Women’s individual qualification round.
13:00 archery (so it’s midnight in New York)– Men’s individual qualification round.
You can find our full interactive event program and results service here.
How was it
Here’s a reminder of how the medal table ended after the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio:
1. 🇺🇸USA – 🥇46 🥈37 🥉38 – total 121
2. 🇬🇧Britain – 🥇27 🥈23 🥉17 – total 67
3. 🇨🇳porcelain – 🥇26 🥈18 🥉26 – total 70
4. 🇷🇺Russia – 🥇19 🥈17 🥉20 – total 56
5. 🇩🇪Germany – 🥇17 🥈10 🥉15 – total 42
6. 🇯🇵Japan – 🥇12 🥈8 🥉21 – total 41
7. 🇫🇷France – 🥇10 🥈18 🥉14 – total 42
8. 🇰🇷South Korea – 🥇9 🥈3 🥉9 – total 21
9. 🇮🇹Italy – 🥇8 🥈12 🥉8 – total 28
10. 🇦🇺Australia – 🥇8 🥈11 🥉10 – total 29
Get in touch
I still have mixed feelings about the anticipation of an elite sports festival and the uneasiness of knowing that many people in Japan feel like they are being forced into a terribly difficult time for the nation.
You can always contact me at [email protected] I am interested in how you feel about the Games finally about to begin, and I am especially interested in hearing about the sports and competitors that you are looking forward to seeing and cheering for me that I may have missed.
The next time you hear from me, we will all have seen the opening ceremony, that the IOC must be praying to change the mood in Japan a bit. Until then, take care of yourself, stay safe and enjoy.
The last word
It’s a great honor. It’s an iconic moment within the Olympic movement – people remember those images. It is going to be a surreal experience to attend the Opening Ceremony. It will be really special and will complete my olympic puzzle. Mohamed Sbihi, flag bearer for team GB for tomorrow’s opening ceremony
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism