Glittering gold distracts from Tokyo’s Olympic woes

Qian Yang of Group China wins the gold medal throughout the 10m Air Rifle Girls’s occasion on day one of many Tokyo 2020 Olympic Video games at Asaka Capturing Vary on July 24, 2021 in Asaka, Saitama, Japan.

Kevin C. Cox | Getty Photos Sport | Getty Photos

Sport stretched out over Tokyo on Saturday and gold medals rained down because the Olympic Video games burst into life, lastly casting apart among the shadow of Covid-19 and controversy that has plagued the worldwide showpiece.

China made an prompt assertion of intent when Yang Qian grabbed the Video games’ first gold, and Japanese judoka Naohisa Takato lifted dwelling hearts with gold on the mat a day after the nation’s international famous person, tennis participant Naomi Osaka, had lit the cauldron to formally open the pandemic-delayed Olympics.

Iran was additionally cheering early after Javad Foroughi received the boys’s 10m air pistol occasion, and Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz received the boys’s biking highway race as surprising nations featured on the prime of the medals desk.

However followers, banned from all venues underneath Covid-19 protocols, had been served an early reminder of the pandemic’s potential affect as two U.S. archers mentioned they had been competing unvaccinated via private alternative, and organizers mentioned one other athlete had examined constructive for the virus.

The selection of Osaka to gentle the cauldron on Friday had capped a gap ceremony shorn of glitz and staged in an eerily silent stadium.

However whereas the ceremony had been like none earlier than, day one in all sport provided a way more acquainted really feel regardless of the absence of spectators, because the world’s elite athletes ran, rode, fought and swam as a hankered-for business-as-usual vibe constructed.

The sight of an athlete, eyes glistening with pleasure, was at all times going to be a welcome one for organizers, and 21-year-old Chinese language shooter Yang supplied it first, holding her nerve within the ladies’s 10-meter rifle competitors to overtake Anastasiia Galashina.

Crumpled underneath strain

The Russian crumpled underneath strain on her ultimate shot, capturing 8.9, by far her worst of the day, and the worst rating any of the finalists registered. “I obtained too nervous, held on too lengthy,” she mentioned.

Yang was thrilled, and hinted at her prime motivation. “It is the one centesimal birthday of the Chinese language Communist Get together,” she mentioned. “I am so blissful that this golden medal is a present to my nation.”

The hosts had been determined for Japanese success too and, after some close to misses, Takato received gold within the males’s 60kg judo, defeating Taiwan’s Yang Yung-wei.

“It was irritating in Rio,” Takato mentioned, recalling the earlier Video games the place he ended up with bronze. “It was a protracted highway to get right here.”

Organizers hope sport can distract from the stream of embarrassing gaffes and coronavirus woes which have marked the occasion, postponed by a yr.

However there was no ignoring the worldwide pandemic, as yet one more athlete examined COVID-positive, bringing the full variety of disclosed virus circumstances to 123.

Later, American archers Brady Ellison and Mackenzie Brown mentioned they had been free to decide on whether or not or not they obtained vaccinated towards Covid-19, after a U.S. Olympic swimming gold medal prospect who had declined the vaccine was extensively criticized on social media.

“It is a hundred percent a private alternative, and anybody that claims in any other case is taking away individuals’s freedoms,” Ellison, the world’s No.1, mentioned on the competitors sidelines.

He and Brown crashed out within the first spherical of the blended occasion, which is making its Olympic debut.

Hurricane preparation

Organizers are additionally getting ready for a hurricane, having already reworked Monday’s rowing competitions to combine them into the schedule for Saturday and Sunday.

However whereas the rowers look anxiously to the skies, surfers — who begin their competitions on Sunday — ought to profit from larger swells.

The 3×3 basketball match made its debut and U.S. First Woman Jill Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron led the cheering because the American ladies beat France.

At 12, Syria’s Hend Zaza was the youngest athlete competing in Tokyo however her desk tennis match was over in a flash as she misplaced to Austria’s Liu Jia, earlier than taking a selfie together with her conqueror.

Liu, who has a 10-year-old daughter, had struggled to sleep on the eve of the occasion. “Yesterday I requested my daughter, ‘Have you learnt your mom is taking part in towards somebody two years older than you?’ Her first response was, ‘You then higher not lose!'”

Maybe Japan’s “King Kohei” Uchimura may have carried out with related recommendation, however the reign of the Olympic all-around champion and holder of seven Olympic medals, got here to an abrupt finish when he didn’t qualify for the equipment ultimate, closing his storied Olympic profession.

“I could not carry out what I’ve practiced. That is how I merely assume,” he mentioned.


News and digital media editor, writer, and communications specialist. Passionate about social justice, equity, and wellness. Covering the news, viewing it differently.

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