Tokyo Olympics: A Video games in a pandemic, new sports activities, British medal hopes and world stars to observe

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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 stay on BBC One, BBC iPlayer and on-line; Hear on BBC Radio 5 Dwell; stay textual content on BBC Sport web site and app.

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

With an sudden extra 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 fingers on the medal they’ve labored so lengthy for.

When the Video games have been postponed in March 2020, organisers stated the Olympic flame “may grow to be 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 affords a glimmer of that gentle.

“I feel will probably be a second of pleasure and reduction when coming into the stadium, a second of pleasure specifically 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 take pleasure in this second beneath very particular circumstances.”

An Olympics in a pandemic

Masks, quarantine, saliva exams. 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 enormous 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 large 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 need to put on a face masks always – besides when consuming, consuming, coaching, competing or sleeping – and minimise bodily interplay with others, and are being examined for Covid-19 day by 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 Thursday, 12 new instances of Covid-19 have been reported, bringing the overall of instances associated to Video games personnel to 87. There have been eight optimistic instances amongst athletes.

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 optimistic for Covid-19.

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

What’s new?

There might be a report 339 medal occasions held throughout 33 sports activities, with 5 new sports activities – and 34 new occasions in complete – added to the Tokyo 2020 programme by the IOC. Some 48.8% of athletes competing on the Tokyo Olympics are ladies – a report 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 replicate “the pattern of urbanisation of sport”.

IOC president Bach stated: “We wish to take sport to the youth. With the various choices that younger individuals have, we can not anticipate anymore that they may come mechanically to us. We’ve got to go to them.”

This yr’s Video games are additionally doing their bit for sustainability. The medals are constituted of recycled cellphones, whereas the Olympic torch was constituted of aluminium waste from momentary 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 vitality powering Tokyo 2020 comes from renewable sources.

In complete, 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 extra feminine athletes than male to compete in an Olympics, with 201 of the 376 athletes initially chosen being ladies. There might be British illustration in 26 of the 33 Olympic sports activities in Tokyo.

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

This has diminished from the ambition of between 54 and 92 medals that was set in 2018, bearing in mind the “extraordinary circumstances” offered 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 grow to be the primary British feminine athlete to win gold at three successive Olympic Video games.

Monitor cyclists Jason and Laura Kenny each have the possibility to grow to be GB’s most profitable Olympian – Jason is presently tied for the report 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 possibilities 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 Crew 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.

World 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 received 4 golds and one bronze at her debut Video games and is ready 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 to date however the 24-year-old is favorite to win as much as six gold medals in Tokyo, whereas Katie Ledecky, who received 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 received the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon titles this yr, and needing the Olympic and US Open titles to finish the feat.

However arguably some of the 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 information 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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Bourbiza Mohamed. Writer and Political Discourse Analysis.

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