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Thursday, September 23, 2021

An Olympics like no different – Tokyo preview

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A masked spectator overlooks the Tokyo skyline, which features the Olympic Stadium
The Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony takes place on the Olympic Stadium on Friday (12:00 BST)
Venue: Olympic Stadium, Tokyo Date: Friday, 23 July Begins: 12:00 BST
Protection: Watch dwell on BBC One, BBC iPlayer and on-line; Hear on BBC Radio 5 Dwell; dwell textual content on BBC Sport web site and app.

The Tokyo Olympic Video games are upon us. They feel and appear completely different to another Video games of instances passed by, however they’re right here. Eventually.

With an sudden further yr of preparation beneath their belts, greater than 11,300 athletes from 207 nations will compete over the following couple of weeks, all vying to get their arms on the medal they’ve labored so lengthy for.

When the Video games had been postponed in March 2020, organisers stated the Olympic flame “may develop into the sunshine on the finish of the tunnel”. With the Covid-19 pandemic nonetheless raging worldwide, that metaphorical tunnel continues to be being traversed, however Friday’s opening ceremony provides a glimmer of that gentle.

“I believe it will likely be a second of pleasure and aid when getting into the stadium, a second of pleasure particularly for the athletes as a result of I understand how a lot they’re eager for this second,” stated Worldwide Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.

“Then they will lastly be there, they will get pleasure from this second beneath very particular circumstances.”

An Olympics in a pandemic

Masks, quarantine, saliva checks. Make no mistake, these are an Olympics like no different.

With Tokyo in a state of emergency all through the Olympics after a spike in Covid-19 infections, the Video games have come beneath big criticism from the Japanese public, nearly all of whom have stated they need the Olympics to be cancelled or postponed once more.

However security is paramount for the organisers, and big precautions are being taken, together with holding the Video games behind closed doorways with no followers, from both Japan or abroad, being permitted inside venues.

As for the athletes, they’re beneath strict restrictions too. They have to put on a face masks always – besides when consuming, ingesting, coaching, competing or sleeping – and minimise bodily interplay with others, and are being examined for Covid-19 each day.

Adam Peaty poolside at Tokyo 2020 wearing a mask
Crew GB’s Adam Peaty is seeking to defend his 100m breaststroke Olympic title

However sadly the virus has affected the Video games already, earlier than they’ve formally began.

On Friday, 19 new instances of Covid-19 had been reported, bringing the full of instances associated to Video games personnel to 106. There have been 11 constructive instances amongst athletes in Tokyo.

Six Crew GB athletes have needed to isolate of their rooms after being recognized as shut contacts of somebody on their flight who later examined constructive for Covid-19.

US tennis participant Coco Gauff needed to pull out of her debut Video games after testing constructive earlier than arriving in Tokyo, whereas Crew GB’s Dan Evans and Johanna Konta and world primary shooter Amber Hill withdrew for a similar motive.

What’s new?

There will likely be a file 339 medal occasions held throughout 33 sports activities, with 5 new sports activities – and 34 new occasions in whole – added to the Tokyo 2020 programme by the IOC. Some 48.8% of athletes competing on the Tokyo Olympics are ladies – a file determine.

The 5 new sports activities are karate, skateboarding, sport climbing, baseball/softball and browsing. Baseball and softball technically aren’t ‘new’ sports activities on the Olympic programme, however they have not been contested at a Video games since Beijing 2008.

New occasions have been launched to the boxing, canoe slalom, canoe dash, biking, rowing and swimming programmes, whereas there are new mixed-gender occasions together with a 4x100m blended medley relay in swimming and a blended relay in triathlon.

These sports activities have been launched in a bid to draw youthful audiences and mirror “the pattern of urbanisation of sport”.

IOC president Bach stated: “We need to take sport to the youth. With the numerous choices that younger folks have, we can’t count on anymore that they are going to come robotically to us. We have now to go to them.”

This yr’s Video games are additionally doing their bit for sustainability. The medals are produced from recycled cellphones, whereas the Olympic torch was produced from aluminium waste from non permanent housing constructed within the aftermath of the 2011 Nice East Japan Earthquake.

Solely eight new competitors venues have been constructed from scratch, whereas a lot of the power powering Tokyo 2020 comes from renewable sources.

In whole, the Video games will price £11.5bn, up 22% due to the one-year delay.

British medal expectations

For the primary time in 125 years, Crew GB have chosen more female athletes than male to compete in an Olympics, with 201 of the 376 athletes initially chosen being ladies. There will likely be British illustration in 26 of the 33 Olympic sports activities in Tokyo.

Crew GB gained 65 medals at London 2012, rising to 67 in Rio 4 years later. In Tokyo, UK Sport says it hopes between 45 and 70 medals will likely be gained.

This has decreased from the ambition of between 54 and 92 medals that was set in 2018, taking into consideration the “extraordinary circumstances” introduced to athletes and workers within the build-up to the Video games.

However who will win these medals?

Swimmer Adam Peaty (100m breaststroke), gymnast Max Whitlock (pommel horse) and taekwondo star Jade Jones are tipped to retain their gold medals from Rio, with Jones – the 57kg winner in London and Rio – bidding to develop into the primary British feminine athlete to win gold at three successive Olympic Video games.

Observe cyclists Jason and Laura Kenny each have the possibility to develop into GB’s most profitable Olympian – Jason is at the moment tied for the file with Sir Chris Hoy on six golds, whereas Laura is already Britain’s most profitable feminine Olympian with 4 golds.

Sprinter Dina Asher-Smith is the face of the Video games for Crew GB and has medal probabilities within the 100m and 200m, whereas skateboarder Sky Brown, GB’s youngest Olympian at simply 13, is a medal contender within the ladies’s park occasion.

Sailor Hannah Mills and rower Mohamed Sbihi will lead Team GB into Friday’s opening ceremony, with Tokyo being the primary Olympics at which nations can choose two flag bearers in a bid to extend gender equality.

International stars to observe

Simone Biles training in front of Olympic rings
US gymnast Simone Biles, 24, has 5 Olympic medals, together with 4 gold

American gymnast Simone Biles was one of many standout stars in Rio 5 years in the past.

The 24-year-old gained 4 golds and one bronze at her debut Video games and is about to compete in all 5 occasions once more. If she defends her all-around title she could be the primary Olympic gymnast to take action since 1968.

Two extra People are anticipated to dominate within the swimming pool. Caeleb Dressel has ‘simply’ the 2 Olympic golds up to now however the 24-year-old is favorite to win as much as six gold medals in Tokyo, whereas Katie Ledecky, who gained 4 golds in Rio so as to add to her one from London 2012, is anticipated to compete in as much as six occasions.

Within the Olympic Stadium, look out for Jamaica’s six-time Olympic medal-winning sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in addition to Swedish pole vaulter Armand Duplantis.

Serbia’s tennis world primary Novak Djokovic continues his pursuit of a Golden Grand Slam, having gained the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon titles this yr, and needing the Olympic and US Open titles to finish the feat.

However arguably one of the vital anticipated performances of the Tokyo Video games will come from 43-year-old transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard.

New Zealand’s Hubbard, who broke male nationwide data as a junior, would be the first trans athlete to compete on the Olympics in a person occasion – the ladies’s 87kg class.

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