Olympics 2020: the latest news from day one of Tokyo Games – as it happened

2 months ago

Olympics 2020: the latest news from day one of Tokyo Games – as it happened

The Guardian

Competition begins on Day Two!

It’s coming up to 7.30am on Sunday morning in Tokyo and the surfers have waxed their boards, pulled on their wetsuits and are out competing on the water of Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach to kick off the day’s action .

Leandro Usuna
Leandro Usuna of Argentina competes in round one of the men’s shortboard. Photograph: Lisi Niesner/Reuters

Tokyo 2020
Japanese surfer Kanoa Igarashi gets some training in ahead of today’s early rounds, whiuch are due to begin at 7am local time (11pm BST), weather and waves permitting. Photograph: Reuters

Swimming: Reigning European champion Kathleen Dawson says she is not too focused on medals at her debut Olympics as she would not want to risk “heartbreak”.

The 100m backstroke gold medallist from Scotland recorded times of 58.18 and 58.49 in the final and the re-run in Budapest, and recorded a 58.08 in her leg of the 4x100 medley. But the 23-year-old feels a sub-58 will be needed for a podium spot at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

“I’m not going to try and think about it,” said the Univeristy of Stirling athlete. “I’m not going to try and chase it too much, I’m just going to go in and swim the best race that I can. I’d love to do a 57 and then I know that I’ve given them a good run for their money.”

She took three golds - one individual and two relay - in Budapest, having won another gold as part of the 4x100m medley team at the 2016 Europeans in London. “Personally I’m not going to get too focused or fixated on medals because it’ll just end up in heartbreak if I don’t come back with a medal. But I know that whatever I do, I’m going to fight until the end. So if it results in a medal, great. If it doesn’t, then I know that I will have given it all my best and I’m going to give the girls a fight for it.” PA Sport

Kathleen Dawson
Scottish swimmer Kathleen Dawson is competing at her first Olympics in Tokyo. Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA

Gallery: The best of Tokyo 2020: Day One

Steven Bloor has been busy sifting through a huge assortment of photographs from various venues around Tokyo to bring you this selection of images in gallery form.

Interview: Swimmer Win Htet Oo has given up his Olympic dream, having elected not to make his debut as Myanmar’s lone representative in the pool out of protest against the human rights atrocities and dismantling of civilian governance by the military junta which seized power in the country in February. Kieran Pender spoke to him about his decision.

Win Htet Oo
Melbourne-based swimmer Win Htet Oo. “This is a military government accused of genocide and crimes against humanity. They are now the ones controlling the MOC. That should be grounds for expulsion from the Olympic movement.” Photograph: Sandra Sanders/Reuters

Sunday’s highlights

The following medals are up for grabs tomorrow ...

  • Archery: Women’s team
  • Cycling: Women’s road race
  • Diving: Women’s sync 3m springboard
  • Fencing: Men’s individual epee
  • Fencing: Women’s individual foil
  • Judo: Men’s 66kg
  • Judo: Women’s 52kg
  • Shooting: Men’s 10m air rifle
  • Shooting: Women’s 10m air pistol
  • Skateboarding: Men’s street
  • Swimming: Men’s 400m freestyle
  • Swimming: Men’s 400m ind medley
  • Swimming: Women’s 400m ind medley
  • Swimming: Women’s 4 x 100m freestyle
  • Taekwondo: Men’s 68kg
  • Taekwondo: Women’s 57kg
  • Weightlifting: Men’s 61kg
  • Weightlifting: Men’s 67kg
  • Triathlon: men’s
Jade Jones
Jade Jones will be hoping to make it three golds from three consecutivbe Olympic Games in the women’s 57kg taekwondo tomorrow. Victory would make her the most decorated taekwondo athlete in Olympic history. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA

TV review: “Still mired in the well-documented protests and controversy, the first official day of the Covid-delayed Tokyo Olympics finally arrived,” writes Barbara Ellen for The Observer. “It was time to sit in front of the television and embrace your inner couch potato as, across the main Olympics channels (BBC, Eurosport, Discovery+), you watched people fitter than you could ever be achieve things you could never achieve.” Read on ...

Tokyo 2020
Georgia’s Sandro Bazadze Korea’s Kim Junghwan go all Matrix on each other in their Men’s Sabre Individual Bronze Medal Bout. Photograph: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

And here’s Sean with the weather: Earlier in the day, IOC and Tokyo Olympic officials said they were delighted with the numbers of viewers in Japan, although they admitted to some trepidation due to the threat of Tropical Storm Nepartak, which could hit land later this week, writes our man in Tokyo.

The storm, which formed on Friday and has already caused the rowing on Monday to be cancelled, is considered unlikely to strengthen into a typhoon, but could still cause heavy rain and gusts of more than 50mph as it nears Japan. A Tokyo 2020 spokesman Masa Takaya said the issue was being discussed at the highest level and organisers would monitor the weather closely in the coming days.

“Of course it has been discussed in crisis management, and unlike an earthquake we are able to predict its path,” he said. “And especially when it comes to rowing we have decided to change the schedule for the event. But such a change is not a rare event – it has been experienced in past Olympic Games as well.

“We are looking very closely at the path of the typhoon and should it make landfall and whether there could be damages both human and physical. And if that should be the case we will take a responsible message,” he added.

Tokyo 2020: Day One dispatch from the frontline ...

After a year of apathy, swirling uncertainty and widespread anxiety about Covid, the Japanese public appeared to suddenly catch Olympic fever on Saturday as the games exploded into life on the opening day of competition.

The International Olympic Committee reported that 69.4 million people in Japan – about half of the population – had watched some part of the Games on TV – far higher than expectations – while thousands defied calls to stay at home during the men’s cycle road race to line the streets to cheer and applaud the riders.

Swimming: American swimmer Caeleb Dressel is going for seven gold medals these games, what with him contesting the 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 100m butterfly, 4x100m freestyle, 4x100m medley, 4x100m mixed medley and 4x200m freestyle. It’s a tall ordser, but on the BBC, former British Olympian Mark Foster says it’s far from out of the question.

“That 50 freestyle, fastest man on the planet, that is him at the moment,” he says. “In the 100 free he goes in odds on favourite, 100 fly ... I would say arguably he will win by a bit, 4 x 100 freestyle - the USA generally don’t lose that, 4 x 100 medley relay - the USA have not lost that since Moscow, when they boycotted. But we beat them last year in the World Championships so we have a chance in that. They’re generally solid across the board.”

Caeleb Dressel
Caeleb Dressel is targetting a haul of seven gold medals at Tokyo. Photograph: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Women’s cycling: The road race takes place tomorrow and while Lizzie Deignan is not among the favourites she is cautiously optimistic regarding her chances and says she’s a lot more relaxed than she was going into Rio. William Fotheringham caught up with the 32-year-old from Yorkshire ...

Eurosport: Having replaced the BBC as the main rights holder in the UK, Eurosport have experienced early teething problems in their coverage of the Games. A broadcast of one football match this morning was soundtracked by a snooker commentary, while coverage of live gymnastics and judo, and recorded volleyball came with no sound at all.

“We have been experiencing some technical challenges and we are working to rectify the situation as a matter of urgency,” said a Eurospoert spokeman, in comments reported by the Telegraph.

Elsewhere, in a conversation not meant for broadcast, presenter Orla Chennaoui was overheard saying she would prefer not to interview any Spanish cyclists after the men’s road race because a team masseuse had tested positive for Covid the previous day.

“The fact that these comments went to air is unfortunate,” said the spokexman. “Orla’s comments were made in response to reports of a member of the Spanish cycling team having tested positive within the last 24 hours. Our teams are working under exceptional circumstances within a unique environment. We respect their desire to protect their own safety and the safety of others.”

If that’s the worst thing anyone said trackside during a reported five minutes on what is known in the trade as a “hot mike”, it’s probably safe to assume a veritable hail of potential bullets were dodged.


A VIP guest: Having attended yesterday’s opening ceremony, America’s First Lady, Dr Jill Biden received and acknowledge a rapturous welcome from the small crowd at the Olympic swimming pool today.

Jill Biden
Jill Biden also attended the US women’s opening 3x3 basketball match against France. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images


Swimming: Australia’s women’s 4x100m freestyle relay team look sure to complete a golden hat-trick, and maybe smash their world record, when the first swimming medals of the Tokyo Olympics are handed out on Sunday, Reuters report.

In what could be a bountiful day for The Dolphins, Elijah Winnington will also seek to live up to his surname in the men’s 400m free, even if Germany’s Henning Muhlleitner qualified fastest.

Australian Brendon Smith is also a strong contender after qualifying fastest for the men’s 400 individual medley, the first of the medal events. The women’s relay team, winners in 2012 and 2016, were dominant on Saturday and inside the world record after the first two legs.

With what amounted to a B team, they still set the 10th fastest time in history and the return of their two top swimmers - Cate Campbell and Emma McKeon - for the final makes their 2018 record look vulnerable.

Hungary’s world record holder Katinka Hosszu has her work cut out to defend her 400m individual medley gold after qualifying only seventh fastest. Emma Weyant of the United States was the top qualifier in that event with the fastest time in the world this year.

Katinka Hosszu
World recrod holder Katinka Hosszu only qualified seventh fastest in the Women’s 400m Individual Medley Swimming. Photograph: Valdrin Xhemaj/EPA

Richard Carapaz was one of the day’s early gold medallists, winning the men’s road race in cycling with a fine solo breakaway effort. His mother wasn’t getting carried away however, interrupting her celebrations to make sure the family livestock got fed at home in Ecuador.

In his day job with Team Ineos, Carapaz told Cycling Weekly he learned English by watching episodes of Spongebob Squarepants on repeat. Reared in El Carmelo in northern Ecuador, 800km from the capital Quito and at around 3,000m of altitude, Carapaz grew up on a smallholding.

“When I lived with my parents, we didn’t live deep in the countryside, we didn’t have a big farm, but we had a lot of animals,” he said. “We had cows, hens, turkeys, pigs. It is not really a cosy place, but it is a place that I always return to, especially with the kids because I enjoy it a lot.”

Ana Luisa Montenegro
Ana Luisa Montenegro, mother of Ecuadorian cyclist Richard Carapaz, in terrupted her celebrations of her son’s win in the men’s road race to feed the family chickens. Photograph: Xavier Montalvo/EPA
Richard Carapez
Richard Carapaz celebrates after soloing to victory in the men’s cycling road race less than a week after finishing third in the Tour de France. Photograph: Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images


Kon’nichiwa dear readers. Greetings from London. While Tokyo slumbers through the early hours with quite a few to go until action resumes we have no reason to feel in any way less Olympic ... writes reporter keeping one eye on the first Test between South Africa and the British and Irish Lions in Cape Town.

We’ll look back on the official opening day’s action, look ahead to what’s coming up and scout around assorted media outlets to see what they’ve made of the day’s action so far. Stay tuned.

And with that I’m going to fumble the baton towards Barry Glendenning, who will helm the blog through the next few action-light hours. Bye!

Here’s some fascinating family history courtesy of the American volleyball-playing brothers Kawika and Erik Shoji, who were in the American team that beat France today, and the Associated Press:

Volleyball has always been a family affair for Kawika and Erik Shoji. The sons of legendary University of Hawaii women’s coach Dave Shoji have put together impressive playing careers of their own at Stanford and for the United States as they began their second Olympic Games on Saturday night against France.

Playing in their ancestral homeland of Japan has provided the Shoji brothers the opportunity to highlight other members of their family, most notably their late grandparents, who met and got married at an internment camp before their grandfather fought in the 442nd Infantry Regiment for the US in World War II.

“It means a lot to us,” Erik Shoji said. “It’s a point of pride for us, for our family to continue to tell that story. Most people don’t know the story of the 442 and even Japanese internment. I think it will be cool to shed some light on that.”

The story of Kobe and Chizuko Shoji is part of one of the more troubling moments of U.S. history. They grew up about 15 miles apart in Southern California, but didn’t meet until some darker circumstances after the start of World War II.

Shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, President Franklin D Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 that placed more than 100,000 West Coast residents of Japanese descent into internment camps. Even though the majority were American citizens, they still were essentially incarcerated out of misplaced fear that they would side with the Japanese in World War II.

Kawika Shoji and Erik Shoji of the United States volleyball team
Kawika Shoji and Erik Shoji of the United States during the men’s volleyball preliminary round match against France. Photograph: Frank Augstein/AP

It took decades for the U.S. government to apologize for the actions with President Ronald Reagan signing a law that gave compensation to survivors of the camps in 1988 and President Bill Clinton sent an apology to them for “racial prejudice, wartime hysteria, and a lack of political leadership.”

Kobe and Shizuko Shoji met at one of those camps in Poston, Arizona.

“I remember a funny story that my grandma used to tell us about how the boys would go out and play football and baseball and the girls would sit there and watch,” Erik Shoji said. “My grandma told us that she would watch my grandpa play and she knew that she had a crush on him and wanted to get to know him.”

They met and got married before Kobe went off to fight in World War II a part of the 442nd Infantry Regiment. The unit was comprised almost entirely of second-generation American soldiers of Japanese descent who fought in Europe during World War II. While many of the soldiers such as Kobe Shoji had spent time in internment camps or had family members still there, they still were willing to fight for their country and became one of the most decorated units in the war for the US.

Kawika Shoji remembers seeing his grandfather’s Purple Heart and Bronze Star when he was a young kid and learning about his time in the war. “It really is an amazing, fascinating, untold story just about loyalty and heroes,” Kawika Shoji said. “I just remember he would just tell me he wanted to prove his loyalty to our country, and that’s why he signed up for the war. And gosh, hearing that story at a young age and just realizing and understanding his selflessness and perseverance through that time was super inspiring. It says a lot about his character and also the other people that he went to war with as well.”

The Shoji brothers have represented their country through sports not military service, helping the US win the bronze medal in 2016 in Rio and coming back for a second Olympics in Japan. That provides extra motivation because of the family ties even if they don’t know of any family members still in the country.

Their grandparents were huge sports fans when they were still alive and went to as many of Kawika’s and Erik’s matches as they could. They still provide inspiration today.

“I think they would just be over the moon to know that we are going to our second Olympics,” Erik Shoji said. “Unfortunately, they can’t watch, but we know they are watching it in a certain sense. I know they would be so proud of us. We’re happy to kind of tell their story and let people know where our family came from.”

An overlooked moment of the day: in her press conference after winning gold in the women’s individual epee, secured with a thrilling victory over the favourite, Romania’s Ana Maria Popescu, China’s Sun Yiwen broke down in tears. She revealed her father is seriously unwell with a terminal illness, and she travelled to Tokyo in the knowledge that in doing so she was probably giving up her last chance of seeing him. “It was a high probability for me to not be able to see him again after the competition at Tokyo 2020,” Sun said. “But luckily he is still alive. We remain hopeful, me and my family.”

Yiwen Sun wins fencing gold
Yiwen Sun of China celebrates winning the gold medal in the women’s individual epee during the Fencing events of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Photograph: Kiyoshi Ota/EPA
Sun Yiwen of China wins fencing gold
Sun Yiwen of China celebrates with her coach after winning the women’s individual epee final against Ana Maria Popescu of Romania at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock

Talking of highlights, here’s Martin Belam’s daily briefing.

Sign up here to have it channelled straight into your inbox on a daily basis:

Tomorrow looks full of interest and intrigue. Here are a few highlights:

  • Skateboarding is here! Tomorrow sees the men’s street final, which is being billed as a battle between America’s Nyjah Huston and two home hopes, Yuto Horigome and Sora Shirai. Thrills and spills are expected. Action begins at 12.25pm local time (4.25am BST, 11.25pm New York, 8.25pm Los Angeles, 1.25pm Sydney)
The American skateboarder Nyjah Huston
Nyjah Huston of the USA practices on the skateboard street course ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Photograph: Patrick Smith/Getty Images
  • The first swimming medals will be decided, with the day starting with the men’s 400m individual medley final at 10.30am Tokyo time. There are four more finals before the day’s first session is done a little less than two hours later, culminating in the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay.
  • Who’s going to get Britain’s first medal/gold? We could find out tomorrow, with Bradly Sinden among the favourites for the men’s -68kg taekwondo and Jade Jones going for a third successive gold in the women’s -58kg.
  • The tennis competition continues, with Olympic cauldron-lighter Naomi Osaka starting her competition against China’s Saisai Zheng, and Andy Murray following her onto centre court for his first singles match. Ash Barty kicks the day off against Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo at 11am Tokyo time.
  • The women’s road race is almost exactly 100km shorter than the men’s, controversially. “The signal that goes out from these different course types for men and women is not the equality that the IOC aims for,” sniffed Marianne Vos, the 2012 champions. She will probably be somewhat mollified if the Dutch riders live up to their billing and bag a couple of medals. Racing starts at 11am Tokyo time.
  • The boxing competition gets under way, and Britain’s 11-strong team are all expected to win medals. The women’s middleweight competition starts on Sunday and 2019 world champion Lauren Price has every chance of picking up a gold.
Japanese surfer Kanoa Igarashi
Kanoa Igarashi of Japan during training at Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach on the first day of the Tokyo Olympics. Photograph: Reuters
  • Weather permitting, this day also sees the introduction of a new sport to the Games. Forty surfers from 17 different countries are taking part in the surfing competition at Tsurigasaki Beach. Not surprisingly, Americans and Brazilians are favourites for medals with Brazil’s Gabriel Medina looking hard to beat, but there’s a host of Australian hopefuls and competition will be fierce. If the waves are a bit disappointing, though, they won’t bother.
  • There will also be medals up for grabs in shooting, diving, weightlifting, archery, judo and fencing.


The Australians are ready! roars Kieran Pender from the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, where the nation’s swimmers were in encouraging form:

And Tomainy Carayol saw 2016 gold-medallist Max Whitlock book his place in the pommel horse final:

I’ve got a report for you on what turned out to be a massively one-sided women’s football contest between the USA and New Zealand, watched by the extremely busy Jill Biden:

Volleyball: Victory for the USA over France! A serve into the net from the French and It’s all over in straight sets, 25-18, 25-18, 25-22, at a few minutes after half past midnight in Tokyo. And with that the first day of the 2020/2021 Olympics is officially over!

This is Victoria Max-Theurer on her horse Augustin at the London 2012 Olympics. The Austrian was due to compete in Tokyo, which would have been her fifth Olympics, but she had to pull out because her horse, Abegglen, has a sore tooth.

“I’m very sad because our Olympic dream is over,” Max-Theurer said. “With a heavy heart I have to pull out from competing in Tokyo. In the final training session Abby was not his usual self, the way I know him, and we didn’t know why. We had him checked by the team vet and with the equine clinic here at the show grounds and late last night he was diagnosed with an acute abscess at the root of a molar. The welfare of the horses precedes all else. That is written in stone and I won’t change it. This also means that today we cannot enter the Olympic arena to show what we can do, what we have worked and focused on the past five very moving years. It hurts but the health of my horses is most important.”

Victoria Max-Theurer of Austria, who has pulled out of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Victoria Max-Theurer of Austria, who has pulled out of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Photograph: Antonio Olmos

Today's headlines:

Richard Carapaz won gold at the end of a gruelling men’s road race, with Wout van Aert and Tadej Pogacar also on the podium:

South Korean broadcaster NBC offered viewers a handy visual guide to competing nations during the opening ceremony. Cue outrage:

Algeria’s Fethi Nourine preferred going home to touching an Israeli:

For some deeper reading, may I point you the way of William Fortheringham’s interview with Lizzie Deignan, who will be chancing her arm in the women’s road race tomorrow:

Meanwhile Andy Bull headed to Shizuma Park to see the first event of the first morning of the Games proper: Japan against the Czech Republic in the women’s beach volleyball. It didn’t exactly go to plan:

You can find the medal table, as well as a full schedule and results, here:

USA win the second set against France in the men’s volleyball: They lead 2-0, having won both sets 25-18. One more set for the USA, who look very impressive, and it’s game over.

Speaking of which, that’s game over for me - I shall hand you back to Simon to take you through the rest of the afternoon. Bye for now.


On to men’s volleyball: USA currently lead France by a set to love, and 22-17 in the second set.

Stephen Boyer of France (top) in action with Torey DeFalco, David Smith and Matt Anderson of the USA.
Stephen Boyer of France (top) in action with Torey DeFalco, David Smith and Matt Anderson of the USA. Photograph: Carlos García Rawlins/Reuters


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Martin Belam’s newsletter will be running daily through the Olympics from up until Monday 9 August, and then daily from Monday 23 August to Monday 6 September for the Paralympics.


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I continue to raid the news wires:

The Hungarian fencer Aron Szilagyi made Olympic history when he won the men’s individual sabre event, defending his title and becoming the first man to take three gold medals in a single discipline in the sport. When he won the final point against Italy’s Luigi Samele, Szilagyi took his mask off and broke into a wide smile, pointing a finger to the sky. “It’s amazing. I can’t tell you my feelings, but I’m very much overwhelmed,” he said. (Reuters)

Italy’s Luigi Samele (left) and Hungary’s Aron Szilagyi in the men’s sabre individual gold medal bout.
Italy’s Luigi Samele (left) and Hungary’s Aron Szilagyi in the men’s sabre individual gold medal bout. Photograph: Mohd Rasfan/AFP/Getty Images
Aron Szilagyi’s joy.
Aron Szilagyi’s joy. Photograph: Matthias Hangst/Getty Images


Some quotes here from Vincenzo Nibali, the veteran Italian cyclist. Italy’s team looked well placed inside the final 100km of the men’s road race earlier, with several riders together near the front of the race. In the end, Alberto Bettiol in 14th was the best they could muster. Gianni Moscon was 20th and Damiano Caruso 24th as Richard Carapaz sealed glory for Ecuador.

“We came without a single well-defined leader, we knew we had to try to create special situations, we tried to move things,” said the ‘Shark of Messina’, Nibali. “Each race has its story, and you have to accept the result. Now I’ll take a little break and then I’ll think about the rest of the season.”


Via Reuters – A report on Japan’s first gold medal of the Games. Naohisa Takato said the medal was ‘heavy’, presumably referring to its actual weight, rather than any emotional impact he may be feeling:

Naohisa Takato delivered the first gold medal of the Tokyo Games for a host nation desperate for Olympic glory by winning the men’s 60 kg judo, a sport born in Japan 140 years ago. The win against Taiwan’s Yang Yung-wei left Takato openly weeping on the mat, and stood in contrast to the lack of fans in an empty arena at the Nippon Budokan.

“This is heavy. It makes me feel like dreaming,” Takato, who was later all smiles, told reporters when asked about the gold medal that was put around his neck. The triple world champion judoka, who had disappointed the nation with bronze at the 2016 Games, had a nail-biting ride with three victories in the finals coming in sudden death. He had a close shave in his quarter-final in the 60kg class, winning during Golden Score overtime on a foul by his Georgian opponent Lukhumi Chkhvimiani. In the elimination round of 16, Takato delivered an ippon against Belgian Jorre Verstaeten. “It was frustrating in Rio,” Takato said, recalling the previous Games where he ended up with bronze. “It was a long road to get here.”


In gymnastics news: The German women’s team, in protest against ‘sexualisation in gymnastics’, will be wearing unitards instead of leotards at these Games.

Team member Elizabeth Seitz posted yesterday to that effect:

Elizabeth Seitz on Instagram

Great Britain’s women’s footballers roared into the knockout rounds earlier, with a 1-0 win against Japan.

Elsewhere, USA trounced New Zealand 6-1, much to the delight of Dr Jill Biden, who was there to witness it:

Thank you, Simon, and good afternoon / good evening / good morning to our readers around the world.

What’s occurring now on Super Saturday in Japan? Let me check. While I do, why not read Tumaini Carayol’s excellent piece on the Uzbek gymnast, Oksana Chusovitina. She competed at her first Games in 1991 !!

And with that, with the Olympic day nearly done - there is beach volleyball and non-beach volleyball ongoing, and that’s it - I’m going to hand over to Luke McLaughlin for a little while. Back in a bit.

Japan have beaten Belgium in the 3x3 basketball in sudden death overtime! I’m not entirely sure what was happening there, but I’m pretty sure I was excited by it. Here’s Tom Dart on a discipline making its Olympic bow, watched today by Emmanuel Macron and Jill Biden:

In the before times, when “urban cluster” was a phrase that meant something very different at the Tokyo Olympics, 3x3 basketball was poised to make some noise in its Games debut. It still did on Saturday – after all, DJs play music during contests to pump up the atmosphere. But while the world has grown used to sports taking place behind closed doors during the pandemic, there may be an especially keen sense of loss at the Ariake and Aomi urban sports parks in the next fortnight.

They were designed with mingling in mind, envisioned as the throbbing heart of an outdoor sporting carnival zone that, organisers promised in 2019, would deliver “a buzzing festival environment that brings fans closer to the Olympic action than ever before”. Now, with spectators barred, clusters are a matter for epidemiologists.

Much more here:

Emmanuel Macron and Jill Biden watch basketball at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
Emmanuel Macron and Jill Biden watch 3x3 basketball at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock


As the clock prepares to strike 11pm in Tokyo, there are still three sports being played: beach volleyball, 3x3 basketball - where Belgium v Japan has gone into overtime - and the last two table tennis matches.

Swimming: While spectators are banned at Tokyo 2020, the pool deck might not be as quiet as expected in the days ahead. Earlier tonight in the first session of the nine-day swimming program, about 14 banks of seating were taken over by national teams - I presume swimmers not in action - to cheer on their compatriots. They were in voice even before the racing had begun - Team USA let out a big cheer when the camera panned to the First Lady, Jill Biden, who was here tonight to support them after attending last night’s opening ceremony. In contrast to the eerie silence of other events, the noise makes a nice change. Team USA led the charge - they had even brought inflatable clap-sticks with them - but now that the other nations know they can make some noise poolside, we might have a real atmosphere at the Aquatics Centre.

USA swimmers cheer on their teammates at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
United States swimmers cheer on teammates during swimming competitions at the 2020 Summer Olympics. Photograph: Martin Meissner/AP

Chris McHugh and Damien Schumann of Australia are playing a fabulous second set in their men’s beach volleyball match against Norway. Having lost the first 21-18, they have reached a higher plane of volleyballing and lead 14-8 as I type.

Dressage: Here’s a PA Media report on how Britain’s riders got on today, a memorable one for second-generation Olympian Charlotte Fry:

Charlotte Fry admitted her Olympic Games debut “could not have gone much better” as she cruised into the individual dressage final at Tokyo’s Equestrian Park.

The 25-year-old, whose late mother Laura rode for Britain in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, topped her qualifying group with Everdale on a personal best grand prix score of 77.096%.

Two riders from each of six groups - plus the next six-best finishers - will contest Wednesday’s individual final. And Fry’s outstanding performance under the floodlights also meant a strong start to British team hopes, with Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester completing a powerful trio.

Charlotte Fry of Great Britain riding Everdale
Charlotte Fry of Great Britain riding Everdale competes in the dressage qualifier on day one of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Hester, who at 54 is Team GB’s oldest competitor in Tokyo, showcased all his experience with a solid display as heavy rain fell. Gloucestershire-based Hester, riding in his sixth Olympics, finished fourth in Group C aboard En Vogue on 75.124%. He will now have to wait until the end of Sunday’s action to discover whether he has done enough to join Fry in the individual final.

Double Olympic champion Dujardin begins her individual and team quest among Sunday’s late starters that also include Germany’s multiple gold medallist Isabell Werth. And while Germany remain clear favourites for team gold, Britain made an impressive start as Fry built the foundations in nerveless fashion.

“I was really happy with it,” she said. “It couldn’t have gone much better, to be honest.

“He [Everdale] definitely knew it was a big occasion. He was so concentrated today. It was such a great feeling.

“We have really kind of grown up together and built a really good partnership. I enjoyed every second of it, and he felt like he was enjoying it as well. You never know how it is going to feel when you go into the arena, and every arena is different, but I really trust him and he really trusts me, so that kind of situation we don’t worry about too much.”


USA’s comfortable lead over New Zealand in the women’s football was briefly threatened when Betsy Hassett pulled a goal back to make it 3-1 with 18 minutes to go, but Christian Press has just scored to make it 4-1 and put the game to bed (STC).

That is today’s final medal, so it’s time for a wildly premature look at the medal table. Particularly premature because it hasn’t been updated with Italy’s first gold of the Games yet. Still, here are the leaders (insert Italy somewhere high up).

The nearly latest Olympic medal table
The nearly latest Olympic medal table. Photograph: theguardian.com

Gold for Italy in the taekwondo! Vito dell’Aquila has beaten Mohamed Khalil Jendoubi 16-12 in the men’s -59kg, storming through with a phenomenal final round, which he started 9-6 down.

Here’s Suzanne Wrack’s report on Team GB’s win over Japan in the women’s football:

Ellen White scored her third goal at the Tokyo Olympics as a patient Team GB ensured their passage to the knockout stage with a 1-0 defeat of hosts Japan. The win means Team GB go into their final game of Group E against Canada needing a draw to top the group, while defeat would ensure they finish second behind their opponents.

Head coach Hege Riise shifted things around to attempt to combat the technical strength of Japan. In came Arsenal centre-back Leah Williamson for Chelsea’s Millie Bright, with the former much more comfortable with the ball at her feet. Sophie Ingle, Team GB’s sole Welsh representative, was brought in alongside Keira Walsh as part of a midfield two in a 4-2-3-1 to try and give Team GB the edge in central areas.

Much more here:

Ellen White celebrates after scoring the only goal of the game for Team GB against Japan.
Ellen White celebrates after scoring the only goal of the game for Team GB against Japan. Photograph: Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

It was a record-breaking day in the water polo, where the USA broke the record for the most goals scored in a single match, thrashing Japan 25-4 ... and then Spain beat it, thumping South Africa 29-4. There were 10 different scorers for Spain, with 16-year-old Elena Ruiz getting five.

Spain v South Africa in the water polo
Bea Ortiz (left) of Spain blocks a shot from Hanna Muller (bottom) of South Africa during the Women’s Preliminary Round Group A match at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Photograph: Naomi Baker/Getty Images

World champions the United States began their quest for a third straight Olympic gold medal in women’s water polo by storming into the record books with a 25-4 humbling of hosts Japan at the Tatsumi Water Polo Centre on Saturday - it was 3-3 at one point early on, though it didn’t stay close for long. But the U.S. record for most goals scored in a single match at the Olympics stood just a few hours before being overhauled by reigning European champions Spain, who crushed South Africa 29-4 to lay down a marker of their own.

Japan’s Eruna Ura at the Tokyo Olympics
Japan’s Eruna Ura scores a goal against the USA during the women’s water polo preliminary round at Tatsumi Water Polo Centre. Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA

“We got off to a rocky start, especially defensively,” said US captain Maggie Steffens, who scored five goals. “The Olympics gives you extra bit of energy and excitement and it was nice to see our team recover and take a deep breath.”

“We’re human, and we get nervous just like everyone else,” US coach Adam Krikorian said. “It’s the first game of the Olympics and those jitters aren’t going to go away for us or for any other team. Sometimes it just gets us, but once we settled down, we were much better.”

Fantastic scenes at the Mukuhari Messe, as Wongpattanakit wraps up gold and leaps into her coach’s arms! Her Spanish opponent is in tears: she pushed all the way, and led 10-9 until Wongpattanakit landed a body kick for two points to steal gold 11-10.

Here’s a report on Australia’s 4-2 defeat to Sweden in the women’s football:

Sam Kerr would not have forgotten the weight of the silence that stretched and warped the world around her as she stood staring at the ball she had just launched over the crossbar in Nice in 2019. The Matildas had endured an onslaught from a determined Norway side, somehow stumbling into a desperate, exhausted penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final of the Women’s World Cup.

Kerr – in her first major tournament as captain – stepped up to take Australia’s first penalty after Norway star Caroline Graham Hansen calmly buried hers. The camera zoomed in to show a face etched with furious concentration, as though calculating all the possible mathematical variables that have turned modern football analysis into a series of algorithms.

It was as if she had too much time to think about it; too much time to bluff and double-bluff. The calculations got in the way of the parts of football that are its actual beating heart: emotion, momentum, confidence, luck, intuition. There was a similar sense of sprawling time as Kerr stepped up to take a penalty in the Matildas’ second outing of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics against Sweden. Even the camerawork was similar.

Much more here:

In the Taekwondo, Panipak Wongpattanakit of Thailand is in the middle of her gold medal bout against Adriana Cerezo Iglesias of Spain, and 9-6 up as I type. There’s just one more medal to be decided after this one, in the men’s -58kg, with Vito dell’Aquila of Italy against Mohamed Khalil Jendoubi of Tunisia in the gold medal contest.

The second-seeded Americans Mackenzie Brown and Brady Ellison were dumped out of the mixed archery event by the Indonesian 15th seeds in the first round earlier today, an event eventually won by South Korea. This is what Brown said afterwards:

It’s supposed to be big and give you goosebumps ... We’re out here by ourselves. You know, we’ve got our team mates, but there’s nobody out here. To work for five years for an Olympic Games and then not to have any spectators at all is a little bit frustrating.

It’s half-time in USA v New Zealand, and the American’s take a two-goal lead into the break after Lindsey Horan snaffled a second just before the interval. In the other women’s football match still in progress Brazil have just equalised to make it 2-2 against the Netherlands, with Marta scoring from the spot.

Aron Szilagi storms to victory in the men’s individual sabre fencing! That’s gold medal No3 for the all-conquering Hungarian, 15-7.

Final score: Great Britain 1-0 Japan It’s all over in Sapporo, and Team GB have banked a second win and are through to the quarter-finals!

OK, the schedules aren’t exactly set in stone. Aron Szilagi’s attempt to win a third successive individual men’s sabre gold is a few minutes ahead of schedule but currently on track, leading as he does 8-5 at the break against Italy’s Luigi Samele. The Hungarian led 7-1, so is fighting a bit of a momentum shift.

Hello world!

As we approach the end of the first full day of Olympic action, and with the final race in the pool in progress, here’s what we’ve still got to look forward to today:

  • The conclusion of the three women’s football matches currently in progress, including Japan v GB and New Zealand v USA.
  • The end of a busy day’s fencing, with the men’s sabre individual gold medal bout between Aron Szilagyi of Hungary and Luigi Samele of Italy starting at 1.15pm BST (9.15pm Tokyo/8.15am New York/5.15am Los Angeles/10.15pm Sydney)
  • Some taekwondo medals will be decided at Makuhari Messe, with the men’s 58kg and women’s -49kg competitions coming to a close. The question on everyone’s lips is: can Panipak Wongpattanakit win Thailand’s first ever taekwondo gold? She’s very much the favourite against Adriana Cerezo Iglesias of Spain. Thailand have only ever won gold medals in weightlifting and boxing, and those two sports plus taekwondo are the only ones they have won any flavour of medal in. Wongpattanakit, who won bronze in Rio, goes in the penultimate bout at 1.30pm BST (9.30pm Tokyo, 8.30am N/5.30am LA/10.30pm Sydney).
  • An entire session of 3x3 basketball, including the unlikely match-up that is USA v Mongolia in the women, and concluding with Belgium v Japan in the men, at 2.25pm BST (10.25pm Tokyo, 9.25am New York, 6.25am Los Angeles, 11.25pm Sydney).
  • A couple of men’s Beach volleyball matches, starting with America’s Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena against the Netherlands’ Alex Brouwer and Rob Meeuwsen (1pm BST/9pm Tokyo/8am NY/5am LA/10pm Sydney), and both continuing and concluding an hour later with Australia’s Chris McHugh and Damien Schumann against Norway’s Anders Mol and Christian Sorum. The Norwegians are widely favoured to win gold.
  • Handball, one of the very greatest love-it-at-the-Olympics-then-forget-about-it-until-the-next-one sports, with Japan against gold medal favourites Denmark at 1.30pm BST (9.30pm Tokyo/8.30pm NY/5.30am LA/10.30pm Sydney). A quarter of an hour earlier, Ireland’s pool game against South Africa gets under way at the marvellously aggressively-named Oi Hockey Stadium.
  • The day’s last seven table tennis matches, though none of the medal favourites – indeed, nobody from the entire, table-tennis-dominating continent of Asia – is involved.
  • A volleyball pool game between the USA and France. The French are supposed to be handy, if you’ll pardon the pun.


That’s enough Olymping for me. Time to hand over to Simon Burnton, as the swimming heats roll on and so does the football.


What has happened today? We’ve had gold medals for China in the women’s 49kg weightlifting and the women’s 10-metre air rifle, via Hou Zhihui and Yang Qian. The men’s 10-metre air pistol gold went to Iran’s Javad Foroughi. Korea won gold in the mixed teams archery via Je Deok Kim and An San. We’ve also had the men’s road race in the cycling with a dramatic solo effort for gold by Richard Carapaz.

There will be more medals to come in judo and fencing in the final hours.

From an Australian perspective, we’ve seen a couple of national records already in the swimming heats, and the Matildas went down fighting to Sweden 4-2. In the other ongoing women’s football match, Netherlands and Brazil are 1-1.

Great Britain score! Leading Japan 1-0

Lucy Bronze wants gold. She sends in a cross from deep on the right, and Ellen white times her run to get a header across goal and past the Japanese keeper. It has been a frustrating half of football for the GB team but now they feel some relief. Substitutions have immediately started on the bench. There hasn’t been much threat from Japan offensively today.

Ellen White (left) heads the ball home to give Great Britain the lead.
Ellen White (left) heads the ball home to give Great Britain the lead. Photograph: Asano Ikko/AFP/Getty Images


There are two bronze medals up for grabs in the men’s 60kg category for some reason, which have gone to Kazakhstan’s Yeldos Smetov and France’s Luka Mkheidze.

Coming up to 65 minutes in the Japan-GB women’s football match and the stalemate continues. The Brits are trying to be patient, laying off passes at the back, pushing up on the wings, but can’t find a way through.

Katrina Lehis of Estonia has won the women’s épée bronze over the Russian Aizanat Murtazaeva. After which Jungwhan Kim of Korea overcame a deficit and a twisted ankle to beat Georgia’s Sandro Bazadze in the men’s sabre.

Emma Weyant of the USA qualifies fastest for the women’s 400m individual medley. Also going through are Aimee Wilmott of Great Britain and Yui Ohashi of Japan.

Fencing these days really does look like Daft Punk fighting.

The fencing medals are getting underway now as well, with the women’s épée and the men’s sabre bronze and gold matches to come in quick succession.

Luigi Samele of Italy (right) loses his sabre as he competes against and Junghwan Kim of Korea in their men’s sabre individual semi-final.
Luigi Samele of Italy (right) loses his sabre as he competes against and Junghwan Kim of Korea in their men’s sabre individual semi-final. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images


The Australians dead-heat in the fifth heat of the men’s 400 freestyle. Eiljah Winnington and Jack McLoughlin touch at the same time and just hold off the USA pair of Kieran Smith and Jake Mitchell. Not that it matters, it’s all about qualifying, and all four of them do. The standings for the final:

Henning Muhlleitner (GER)
Felix Auboeck (AUT)
Gabriele Detti (ITA)
Elijah Winnington (AUS)
Jack McLoughlin (AUS)
Kieran Smith (USA)
Jake Mitchell (USA)
Ahmed Hafnoui (TUN)

Australia’s Jack McLoughlin (bottom) and Elijah Winnington in action in their men’s 400m Freestyle heat.
Australia’s Jack McLoughlin (bottom) and Elijah Winnington in action in their men’s 400m Freestyle heat. Photograph: Adam Davy/PA


Still 0-0 between GB and Japan in the football as we move towards half time. The final heat of the men’s 400 metres is about to raced in the pool. And the last qualifying round of the men’s artistic gymnastics team event is underway.


In the other Group F women’s football match, Netherlands and Brazil have kicked off and Netherlands have taken a fast lead via Miedema in the third minute.

A note from David Williams about the football. “Interestingly they cut away for 2 mins of Korea vs France at judo during the British anthem and then cut back again. Am assuming the GB women took a knee and they’re still censoring it here.”

I’ve got the squash fans out in force. Here’s Ian.

And here’s another Ian, via email from Ian Davis.

“Jahangir was certainly the greatest but there were plenty of other great Pakistani squash players around. I don’t know what penetration squash as a sport has in the world but it’s not much of a spectator event. When I was playing in the 1980s there was an annual pro tournament near where I lived which usually attracted a few of top players in the world. I always went but, with a single game sometimes lasting more than 30 minutes, it was like watching a slightly more mobile version of a game of chess. Great for the aficionado but not, I reckon, for the general viewer. Mind you, that also applies to my other sport, fencing, which has been in the Olympics forever.”

Don’t we know it – every time someone announces Thomas Bach’s name they have to append “champion Olympique 1976” to it for his fencing work.

Meanwhile in the men’s hockey Great Britain are running down time in the fourth period and leading South Africa 3-1.

A deflected strike on goal from Japan was their best opening of the match so far, but GB hold them at bay in the women’s football. Still no score as we tick past 27 minutes at the Sapporo Dome.


Gold for Kosovo! Gold for Japan!

Distria Krasniqi wins Kosovo’s second ever gold medal in the 48kg division of the women’s judo, denying a dream result to Tonaki Funa to win Japan’s first gold medal of the games. She takes the silver though, and Japan’s first gold comes in the very next bout: the 60kg men’s bout, where Naohisa Takato beats Yung Wei Yang of Taipei.

Kosovo’s Distria Krasniqi grapples with Funa Tonaki of Japan.
Kosovo’s Distria Krasniqi grapples with Funa Tonaki of Japan. Photograph: Hannah McKay/Reuters
Naohisa Takato celebrates after defeating Yang Yung-wei of Taiwan in the men’s 60-kg judo final to win Japan’s first gold medal of the games.
Naohisa Takato celebrates after defeating Yang Yung-wei of Taiwan in the men’s 60-kg judo final to win Japan’s first gold medal of the games. Photograph: Jae C Hong/AP


Cannot wait to see this superstar go around in the days to come. Our feature on Simone Biles.

Emma McKeon sets a new Australian record in the heats for the 100m women’s butterfly. She was ahead of the world record pace coming into the last half of her second lap but slowed a touch, and China’s Zhang Yufei caught up for a dead heat on times. Qualifiers are:

Zhang Yufei (CHN)
Emma McKeon (AUS)
Sarah Sjoestrom (SWE)
Torri Huske (USA)
Margaret MacNeil (CAN)
Louise Hansson (SWE)
Anastasiya Shkurdia (BUR)
Marie Wattel (FRA)

We’re 10 minutes into the women’s football between Great Britain and Japan. Still at nil-all, a fairly cagey start.

Quite the drama in the 400m IM medley heats for the men. Daiya Seto, the Japanese favourite, is out. He raced in Heat 4 and was looking good, but faded towards the end to miss out by 0.33 of a second. In the meantime, Australia’s Brendon Smith was fourth in that heat and trailing badly, but stormed home in the freestyle leg to win the heat and clock the fastest time in qualifying - also an Australian record, and a personal best for him by over a second.

Daiya Seto of Japan in action during the heats of the men’s 400m Individual Medley.
Daiya Seto of Japan. Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

The final is tomorrow, and the competitors will be:

Brendon Smith (AUS)
Lewis Clareburt (NZL)
Chase Kalisz (USA)
David Verraszto (HUN)
Alberto Razzetti (ITA)
Jay Litherland (USA)
Leon Marchand (FRA)
Max Litchfield (GBR)


Sweden up 4-2 in the last few minuts against Australia. More women’s football later tonight, with Great Britain to take on the home side.

Se-Bom Lee of Australia comes in second in his 400m IM heat: he was leading into the second lap of the breaststroke leg, but got mowed down by Spain’s Joan Lluis Pons Ramon. They’re both faster than any of the times in the first heat, with Lee clocking 4:15:76 and Pons Ramon 4:12:67. Two heats to come.

It’s 1-1 between South Africa and Great Britain at half time.

Great Britain pressing in the hockey, pushing up in attack with a couple of minutes left in the second term, but they lose possession when they try to go inside the D. Instead the South Africans surge on the counterattack. I didn’t know we’d brought video replays into hockey as well, but there are many replays to see whether a ball has clipped the leg of a British player and should be a penalty corner. The South African team challenge does not find anything conclusive.

South Africa’s Ryan Julius is closed down by Rupert Shipperley of Great Britain.
South Africa’s Ryan Julius is closed down by Rupert Shipperley of Great Britain. Photograph: Bernadett Szabó/Reuters


The first events in the pool tonight are the four heats for the men’s 400m individual medley, if you’re wondering.

Ok, over to the men’s field hockey for Pool B, where Great Britain is taking on South Africa. This is taking place at the excellently named Oi Hockey Stadium, and it’s 1-1 in the second quarter. Tevin Kok has just been given a green card by a very annoyed ref. “I’ve told you three times!” says the official. What he’s told him, I don’t know. But it must have been good.

The swimming starts soon as well, so I’ll have a look there shortly.

Sweden take the lead 3-2 against Australia in the women’s football match that’s still going.


More squash corro from Robert Speed. “The exclusion of squash from the‎ Olympics is like some decades-long practical joke played by the IOC. The fact that such niche ‘sports’ (breakdancing, synchro swimming, among others) can get in but squash routinely gets overlooked is actually a travesty. They desperately want to be included, and it’s a widely played proper racket sport. I don’t even play the game, but its treatment at the hands of the IOC makes me angry.”

A save! From the Zambian keeper Nali with 93 minutes on the clock as China put a couple of passes together in the box to create a shot. They’ve been under siege down the other end for the last few minutes but have suddenly switched that around. Could have won 5-4. There’s a head clash in midfield and Liu for China comes off with a nosebleed. Then Zambia get one last long-range shot but it’s blocked. What a game between these two teams. Banda scored a hat-trick in that remarkable 10-3 result against Netherlands, and another here today. Neither has led to the joy of a win, though.

China and Zambia draw 4-4 in Group F.

Banda goes down in the area under pressure in the 90th minute, but there’s no penalty from the referee. The score stays at 4-4.

... and a red card for China to follow. Chopped down Banda as she was going through on goal, having already scored three times today and three times in their previous match. Just past 86 minutes on the clock.

China level up to 4-4 against Zambia in the football...

The hosts off to a good start in the men’s volleyball as Japan beat Venezuela three sets to nil in their pool match.

Zambia go up 4-3 against China in the women’s football. This match is the gift that keeps on giving. Meanwhile, two more goals in Sweden-Australia makes it 2-2 over there. Australia took the lead via Sam Kerr before Lina Hurtig equalises with another cross-and-poke.

We’re now under an hour away from the first swimming session of Tokyo 2020 in the Tokyo Aquatics Centre. It’s all heats tonight, with the first medals on offer tomorrow morning. From an Australian perspective, there are three big races to watch:

Women’s 100m butterfly - Emma McKeon and Brianna Throssell are both in heat five. McKeon put down a fast qualifying time in Adelaide last month, but faces stiff competition for gold from American Torri Huske and China’s Yufei Zhang.

Men’s 400m freestyle - Elijah Winnington and Jack McLoughlin are both in heat 5. In addition to boasting a great surname, Winnington holds the fastest time of the year in this discipline, with McLoughlin in second (and Mack Horton, who sadly won’t be defending his Rio title, in third). All of which bodes well for the Australians in this gruelling event - a podium one-two is certainly possible.

Women’s 4 x 100m freestyle relay - the Australians are the undisputed queens of the relay, setting the current Olympic record in Rio and then shaving half a second off that time to set a new world record at the Commonwealth Games. The Aussies are in heat two with Canada, who claimed bronze at the most-recent world championships, while arch-rivals the Americans are in the first heat.

Great Britain’s Peter McGrail has been beaten in the men’s featherweight boxing by Thailand’s Chatchai-Decha Butdee. The 36-year-old Thai beats the 25-year-old in a unanimous points decision.

Where else but the Olympic Games would you get the USA playing France in the women’s 3x3 basketball? This is the half-court sport that can be played in pop-up fashion anywhere around the world. The Americans got home 17-10 in this pool match.

French president Emmanuel Macron and U.S. First Lady Jill Biden were courtside.
French president Emmanuel Macron and U.S. First Lady Jill Biden were courtside. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Reuters
Marie-Eve Paget of France (right) blocks a shot by Jacquelyn Young of the United States.
Marie-Eve Paget of France (right) blocks a shot by Jacquelyn Young of the United States. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Reuters


Loving this China-Zambia game in the football: they’re 3-3 with 65 minutes on the clock and still popping off shots aplenty.

Barbara Banda (second right) is joined by her teammates Martha Tembo (left), Ireen Lungu, Racheal Kundanaji (centre) and Lubandji Ochumba Oseke (right) after scoring Zambia’s third goal and completing her hat trick.
Barbara Banda (second right) is joined by her teammates Martha Tembo (left), Ireen Lungu, Racheal Kundanaji (centre) and Lubandji Ochumba Oseke (right) after scoring Zambia’s third goal and completing her hat trick. Photograph: Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters


“Always been a mystery to me why squash isn’t in the Olympics,” writes in David Patten. “Pakistan I seem to remember was very good at it. Glass courts make it very visible for TV I’d have thought.”

It is strange, given that table tennis and badminton are there. It seems like a natural part of the set. Very compact in terms of space requirements. I’m not sure whether Pakistan more broadly was a hotbed of squash talent or whether it’s more that the greatest of the greats was from Pakistan, Jahangir Khan. Just about the most dominant record of any player in any sport, maybe rivalled by someone like Bradman but that’s harder to quantify in sports that aren’t head to head. There was also a Jahangir Khan who played cricket, the one who bowled a ball that supposedly knocked off a sparrow mid-flight.

The Matildas equalise at 1-1! Who else but Sam Kerr. Gets a great delivery into the box from Kyah Simon and powers the header over. It takes some glove from the keeper but has enough force on it to push past and over. It’s nearing half time.

In the other women’s football matches, Zambia have drawn level with China 3-3 in the second half, and Chile scored against Canada to trail 2-1 in the second.

Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski win their first-round men’s doubles! That was a tough fight, ending up 13-11 in the third set which is played as a 10-point tiebreaker.

Neal Skupski (right) and Jamie Murray in action during their first round victory over Andres Molteni and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina.gar Su
Neal Skupski (right) and Jamie Murray in action during their first round victory over Andres Molteni and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina.gar Su Photograph: Edgar Su/Reuters


Murray and Skupski are having a ding-dong battle with Molteni and Zeballos. The British pair went up 10-9 in the tiebreaker set, then the Argentines came back to 10-10, then out to 10-11, and now the Brits have brought it back to 11-11.

Good that Suzy is taking the time to soak everything in.

Sweden go 1-0 up against Australia in the women’s football. A good chain of passes, a broken tackle, a cross into the area by Jakobsson, and Fridolina Rolfö side-foots it home.

In the tennis, Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski have gone into a third set tiebreaker against the Argentine pair Andres Molteni and Horacio Zeballos. The Brits won the second set 6-4 after losing a tiebreak in the first. By Olympic rules, the third set of doubles matches will consist of a 10-point tiebreaker.


Spain beat Germany 28-27 in the handball. It nearly went awry though: Spain won possession with five seconds left, then turned it over and conceded a foul within scoring range. Had to assemble a defensive wall to protect a shot after the buzzer. But it goes wide.

Spain players defend against a free throw.
Spain players defend against a free throw. Photograph: Susana Vera/Reuters


A real bruising heavyweight encounter early in the handball tournament: Germany and Spain in the preliminary round for Group A. They’re 26 apiece with about five minutes to play. Lots of body contact, lots of heavy falls, a couple of penalties being pulled out as well.

Gold in the men's road race for Ecuador

Richard Antonio Carapaz Montenegro crosses the line first for Ecuador! A Giro d’Italia in 2019, and now an Olympic gold in 2021.

The chasing group with seven riders in contention arrives 1:07 behind him. This is spectacular from Carapaz. He formed a breakaway of his own so far back in the race with only McNulty for company. Then as McNulty foundered, Carapaz went out on his own. That is such a hard way to win a race, but he kept extending his lead over the final kilometres.

In a very tight bunched finish, Wout van Aert of Belgium takes the silver, and Tadej Pogacar somehow found the reserves to get back into the pack and then take the bronze.

Richard Carapaz of Ecuador celebrates winning the Men’s road race.
Richard Carapaz of Ecuador celebrates winning the Men’s road race. Photograph: Christopher Jue/EPA


Carapaz is doing it! He’s blown out his lead to 43 seconds, now 44, as the chasing group start to think about silver and bronze instead of gold. They’re eyeing each other off, sideways glances, as Carapaz hits 50 seconds in front with a kilometre to go.

Two kilometres left in the men’s road race. McNulty has been swallowed up but Carapaz has taken his lead out to 39 seconds! He’s going for it with everything he’s got.

Eight riders in the chasing group, then McNulty fading back into them, and they’ve blown up Pogacar as they chase. Uran and Woods are doing the chasing. Carapaz is still out in front with 30 seconds advantage. Four kilometres to go.

Just under 6 kilometres left in the road race. Brandon McNulty and Richard Carapaz are still out in front but McNulty is fading. Carapaz has decided to go out on his own. He’s going for it, and the chasing group is about 20 seconds behind. Woods of Canada is going up after McNulty now.

For readers in Australia, especially, the Matildas match tonight will be the main item of interest. That’s the Australian women’s football team, much loved at home, who have a massive game against a very good Swedish side that beat up the USA the other night.

I won’t be doing exhaustive coverage of that match here because Scott Heinrich is doing it blow-by-blow at our dedicated live blog. Head over if you like, come back anytime.

The men’s road race is getting real: Carapaz of Ecuador and McNulty of The Wire... sorry, the USA... are out in front in a breakaway of their own. They’re 15 kilometres from the finish and 45 seconds in front of their fellow breakers, with another chasing group a couple of minutes behind and the peloton three minutes back.


Around the grounds, if you will, Germany and Spain are facing off in the men’s handball, while Japan plays Venezuela in the men’s volleyball. Canada leads Chile 1-0 and China leads Zambia 1-0 in the women’s football.

Reuters is reporting tennis players struggling with the heat in Tokyo, which has been a feature across the day’s competition in most sports. I guess the swimmers will be ok?

Daniil Medvedev attempts to cool off during a changeover in his victory over Alexander Bublik.

Daniil Medvedev (above) said it was some of the worst heat he has played in after beating Kazakh Alexander Bublik 6-4 7-6 (8) on Centre Court. “But you have to play, it’s the Olympics,” world number two Medvedev said. “You go for the medal. You’re not here to cry about the heat. It was really tough for both of us.”

“I’m pretty happy that I’m into the second round and not only the humidity and temperature was hard but also the sun, because on one side it was pretty hard to serve,” said Iga Swiatek, who beat Germany’s Mona Barthel 6-2, 6-2. “We had to adjust quickly and change our ball toss. That was hard but the players who can adjust are going to be the best ones here.”


Gold for Republic of Korea in the mixed teams archery

Wijler shoots first in the decisive fourth. Must win it for Netherlands to stay in the hunt. He shoots a 9. His teammate Schloesser lands a 10 to follow!

Je Deok Kim shoots for Korea, a 10 in response. Ice cold. An San does the same! What a performance from this team. Leading 20-19.

Wijler shoots a 10 himself. They need another from Schloesser... and she hits it!

It’s 39-20, Korea can win with two 10s. Kim gets the first. An San shoots a 9... but that’s a tied set, and it’s good enough to give them the final 2-1.

The gold medal match in the mixed archery is well underway at 1-1. Je Deok Kim of Korea is getting very pumped up, shouting to his team in the stands to encouraging them to cheer back. Even more shouting when he nails a 10 to begin. An San follows with an 8. Wijler shoots a 6 for Netherlands that costs them the third set.

Australia beat Canada 8-5 in the women’s water polo, as it looked like would happen towards the end of that match.

Bronwen Knox surges forward during Australia’s victory.
Bronwen Knox surges forward during Australia’s victory. Photograph: Kacper Pempel/Reuters


In the men’s road race, the breakaway group is seven riders, who are heading up the Mikuni Pass, the second highest of the day at 1171 metres, and they’re 5:13 ahead of the peloton.


Woods is trying to break away from the breakaway as he goes up the hill.

Men's road race


Bronze for Mexico in the mixed teams archery

Yasemin Anagoz of Turkey fires wide, opening the door for Mexico, and Valencia hits an 8 before Alvarez finishes it off with a 7, enough to take the fourth set and win 3-1. The third medal for a Mexican woman in the sport, and the first for a man.

Luis Alvarez of Mexico had a horror shot that only scored a 2 in Mexico’s last losing set, but comes back to hit two 10s and win the third set along with Alejandra Valencia.

In the archery bronze medal match, Turkey and Mexico are tied at one set apiece.

Canada close to 7-5 against Australia in the women’s water polo, but a defensive steal from Rowie Webster lets her streak up the pool and score to take the margin back out to 8-5. A couple of minutes left.

Gold! Javad Foroughi of Iran wins gold in the men's 10m air pistol

That’s gold medal #22 for Iran historically, as Foroughi sets a new Olympic record of 244.8 in the process.

Iran’s Javad Foroughi is lifted up by his coach Mohsen Nasr Esfahani after winning the men’s 10-metre air pistol.
Iran’s Javad Foroughi is lifted up by his coach Mohsen Nasr Esfahani after winning the men’s 10-metre air pistol. Photograph: Alex Brandon/AP

Damir Mikec of Serbia gets silver, and Pang Wei of China gets bronze, after they both snuck into the medal bout on their final shot at the expense of Ukraine’s Pavlo Korostylov.


The Aussie Stingers water polo team are leading Canada 7-4 at the end of the third term, but Australia have a player removed from the water by the ref shortly before that final whistle. Hannah Buckley the centre back has been fouled out.


The Netherlands are into the mixed team archery gold medal match against Republic of Korea.

Gabriela Schloesser misses one chance to beat Turkey, but gets another, and takes herself and Steve Wijler through 5-3. Turkey will take on Mexico for the bronze.

Thanks JP, hello all. Good grief, there is a lot of sport going on today. I’ve been scanning the listings and it’s like my childhood hobby of reading the phone book. Like Jonathan, I’m coming to you from Australia, so there’ll be a bit of a Bruce MacAvaney flavour to our local coverage. If you know the vocal stylings of Bruce, I’ll ask you to hear in your mind’s ear: “Clever. Special!”

If you don’t know Bruce, start where Cathy Freeman’s finest hour provided the chance for his best work.

Thank you very much for your company for the past few hours. Next up is Geoff Lemon to bring you the conclusion of the men’s road race, and much more besides.

Catch you here tomorrow, same time, same place.

Archery - We’ve reached the semi-finals of the mixed archery. Right now we have South Korea taking on Mexico, which will be followed by Netherlands v Turkey.

Yasemin Anagoz and Mete Gazoz
Yasemin Anagoz and Mete Gazoz of Turkey. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Cycling - It’s beginning to heat up in the men’s road race as the peloton descends Mt Fuji. That’s two of the three climbs done now, but the last is the steepest. The breakaway group has almost been reeled in as we reach the 158km mark, roughly two-thirds race distance.

Men's road race Tokyo 2020.
The peloton in action during the men’s road race. Photograph: Alex Broadway/SWpix.com/REX/Shutterstock

Gold! Women's 49kg weightlifting - Hou Zhihui (China)

China make it two from two today with weightlifter Hou Zhihui dominating in the women’s 49kg category. She set a new Olympic record in the snatch, then again in the clean and jerk, raising the benchmark for the overall total.

India’s Chanu Mirabai took silver, bronze went to Windy Aisah of Indonesia.

Hou Zhihui
Gold to Hou Zhihui! Photograph: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images

Weightlifting - Just three lifters remaining in the women’s 49kg final. We’re into the second half of that discipline with the clean and jerk. The second medal of the day will be awarded in just a few minutes.

By the way, weightlifting is one of the easiest sports to get into as an outsider. Easy to follow format, moves quickly, excellent English language commentary. One to enjoy during this opening week.


Cycling - Approaching the summit of the second and highest of the three climbs in the men’s roads race, the peloton is now just eight minutes behind the breakaway leaders. 96km to go.

Tennis - Barty and Sanders have cruised through the opening round of the women’s doubles in under an hour.

Weightlifting - China’s Hou Zhihui has taken a stranglehold on the women’s 49kg category, as expected. She has just broken the Olympic record with a snatch of 94kg (2kg shy of the world record she set in April). There’s daylight to second and a bunched pack of contenders scrapping for silver and bronze in the clean and jerk portion of the final.

Hou Zhihui
Hou Zhihui snatching twice her bodyweight. Photograph: Edgard Garrido/Reuters

Cycling - There are just over 100km left to ride in the men’s road race. The breakaway five now lead by 13 minutes as the peloton gradually reels them in at the start of the second and highest climb of the course.


“Hello Jonathan,” hi Kári Tulinius. “The qualification round of the Men’s 10m Air Pistol is over. My rooting interest, Iceland’s Ásgeir Sigurgeirsson, didn’t make the cut for the final. Before he started qualifying for Olympics, I’m not sure I was even aware that there were air pistol competitions at the Olympics. Being from a country with a small population can sometimes be unexpectedly educational.”

It’s part of the joy of the Games, isn’t it? Learning about new events, finding out you have an interest in something unexpected, maybe becoming drawn to a competitor you’d never heard of previously.

Sigurgeirsson finished 28th of 36 contenders in those aforementioned heats. India’s Saurabh Chaudhary qualified in first place, the only shooter to register a score of 100 during the qualifier.

Tennis - Women’s world No.1 Ash Barty is on court alongside Storm Sanders in the women’s doubles. The sixth seeds are taking on Japanese pair Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya.

In scorching mid-morning heat at the Oi Hockey Stadium, the hosts overcame an early deficit to enter the half-time break with the advantage. While the Kookaburras battled back to clinch victory in the second half, the tight result – against a team 14 places below them in the rankings – gave the Australians a scare heading into a tough encounter with India on Sunday.

Weightlifting - There’s a chance the next medal handed out won’t in fact be the men’s road race, but the women’s 49kg weightlifting. We’re in the early stages of the snatch portion of the final.

Beatriz Elizabeth Piron Candelario
Beatriz Elizabeth Piron Candelario of the Dominican Republic competes during the women’s 49kg weightlifting. Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock

Cycling - The expert commentators covering the men’s road race have informed viewers that the peloton now means business, approaching halfway. The breakaway group has splintered and the five remaining riders are beginning to be reeled in as the course flattens out following the first descent.


If you’re just dipping into the blog for the first time, here’s a rundown of some of the action so far this Saturday.

  • Yang Qian won the first gold medal of the Games, the Chinese shooter triumphing in the women’s 10m air rifle.
  • An Algerian judoka has been sent home from the Olympics after refusing to compete against Israeli
  • Andy Murray’s Olympic campaign has started in style with a doubles victory alongside Joe Salisbury against second seeds Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert
  • Australia’s Kookaburras defeated hosts Japan 5-3 in their opening hockey clash.
  • The next medal up for grabs is in the men’s road race. The cyclists are not far from halfway but British medal hope Geraint Thomas is up against it after crashing early.
Aliaksandr Radzionau of Belarus in action against Necat Ekinci of Turkey
Aliaksandr Radzionau of Belarus in action against Necat Ekinci of Turkey Photograph: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters


Tennis - Muraay and Salisbury have done it!

Tennis - Sam Stosur didn’t last long in the women’s singles. The Australian was *bundled out* in straight sets by rising Kazakh Elena Rybakina.

I’ve always been more a Cracklin’ Rosie or I am... I said guy, but each to their own.


Time for a commercial indie break while I pop the kettle on.

York’s finest?


Tennis - Great Britain’s Heather Watson is out of the women’s singles. She lost in straight sets to Germany’s Anna-Lena Friedsam.

An Algerian judoka has been suspended and sent home after withdrawing from the Tokyo Olympics when his draw set him on course to compete against an Israeli.

Speaking before his suspension, Fethi Nourine, a competitor in the men’s under-73kg division, said that his political support for the Palestinian cause made it impossible for him to compete against Israeli Tohar Butbul, who he was due to meet in the second round.

It is not the first time that Nourine has withdrawn from competition to avoid facing an Israeli opponent, having also pulled out of the 2019 world championships in Tokyo for the same reason.

The International Judo Federation responded by suspending Nourine and his coach Amar Benikhlef, who on Friday had told Algerian media: “We were not lucky with the draw. We got an Israeli opponent and that’s why we had to retire. We made the right decision.”

Cycling - CRASH! Geraint Thomas, one of the great hopes of Team GB is down in the men’s road race. Another British rider is on the deck too.

It’s still early in a slow race, so they can still get back into the mix, but that’s far from ideal. Thomas is a magnet for bingles.

The men’s road race is well underway, and it is blistering hot in Tokyo. The heat could prove a decisive factor for the men in the latter stages of today’s race, and tomorrow in the women’s road race.

It might be tempting for Australians to think that our riders have the upper hand in hot conditions, given they spend the entire Australian summer battling it out in temperatures that sometimes exceed 40C. But Grace Brown, one of the four Australians racing for gold tomorrow, told me that the heat here feels very different. “It’s hot and humid and we get very sweaty,” she said. “You sweat and it just doesn’t evaporate. It’s uncomfortable, but you just have to accept that’s how you feel. It’s not like the scorching oven heat of an Australian summer.”

Nonetheless, the Australian Olympic Committee and Australian Institute of Sport have spent recent years preparing specifically for the Tokyo heat - they’re rolling out dozens of ice baths and 500 litres of slushy a day to keep the Aussies cool.

Cycling - 77km, or around one third race distance, into the men’s road race and the leaders are heading towards the summit of the first climb. That breakaway bunch is down to seven, but they continue to extend their lead, which is now over 18 minutes from the peloton.



Tennis - Good news for Aussie John Millman. He moves on to play 16th seed Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. And if he gets through that, he is scheduled to face the Golden Slammer-elect Novak Djokovic.

Tennis - Sir Andrew Barron Murray, a legend of Olympic tennis, is on court in the men’s doubles alongside Joe Salisbury - and he’s just served out the first set in the opening round clash against Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert. The Frenchmen have five grand slam doubles titles as a duo, so this would be some scalp for the Brits if they can see it home. At the very least, let’s hope Murray’s bionic hip holds out.

Andy Murray and Joe Salisbury.
Andy Murray is gunning for his third Olympic gold medal, alongside Joe Salisbury. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Spot quiz time:

Repechage is one of those words thrown around a lot in rowing coverage, but in the four years between Games its meaning fades into the ether. The word itself comes from the French verb repêch which translates directly as “fish out”, but in common usage means to provide a second chance.

In rowing (and other Olympic sports) it’s a means by which crews who did not finish first past the post are entered into a secondary race to allow them to qualify for the next round. It’s a way of attempting to make the draw fairer in case a competitive boat is dropped into a heat with a crew that blows them out of the water. Other events achieve the same result through seeding or taking fastest heat times for competitors outside the automatic qualifying places.

Tennis - Iga Swiatek is a serious medal chance in the women’s singles and the sixth seed Pole is underway with a routine 6-2 6-2 victory over Mona Barthel. Swiatek is in Naomi Osaka’s quarter of the draw.

Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek won comfortably on Saturday. Photograph: Patrick Semansky/AP

Badminton: Team GB’s Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith are ranked eighth in the world in mixed doubles, and they began their Olympic campaign confidently earlier today.

Cycling - 46km into this race, another 188km to go, and the men’s road race is beginning the long ascent to the first of three peaks. There is still a massive gap from the peloton to the breakaway group of eight unfancied riders.



Can you get more Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, than this? World No.28 golfer Cam Smith on the fast track to cult status.


What are the sports you get sucked into during the Games? I’m always drawn to volleyball - both indoor and beach. I used to play a bit in my youth, and now I can only marvel at the athleticism of those repeat jumps on sand. My calves ache just watching. There’s been plenty of beach action already today, highlighted by Brazil doing the double over fierce rivals Argentina.

Brazil (Alison/Alvaro Filho)
Can I dig it? Photograph: John Sibley/Reuters

Softball - Quick update for our Australian readers, and it isn’t a good one. Canada are cruising 7-1 in the seventh inning. The Aussies are heading for their second heavy defeat in their opening three matches. Their group stage concludes with fixtures against the unbeaten USA tomorrow and winless Mexico on Monday.

The first reviews of Australia’s Olympic coverage are in:

Cycling - With 206km to go in the men’s road race the breakaway group are now eight minutes ahead of the peloton. The favourites have been unperturbed so far, happy to fuel up, take on water, but now they’re stepping on the gas.

Men’s Road Race
Men’s Road Race at Musashiononomori Park. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA


Women’s 10m air rifle - Yang Qian has just received her gold medal - the first of the Games. She placed it around her neck herself, in another sign of the Covid protocols at these Olympics. The socially distanced podium looks like it’s been designed for giants but populated by Lilliputians. We’ll get used to it soon, I’m sure.

The 21-year-old looks unsure what to do with herself as the Chinese flag is raised and the national anthem is played. Eventually she does the most adorable Mobot heart sign with her arms over her head, and my throat tightens up a touch. There’s a minor incident when the trio of medallists bump into each other on their way out of the arena. Giggles all round from the competitors. Thomas Bach looks on bloodlessly.

Yang Qian
China’s Yang Qian celebrates with her gold medal after winning the 10m Air Rifle Women’s Final at the Asaka Shooting Range. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA


Greatest Olympian - For what it’s worth, Agnes Keleti deserves a mention. She survived the holocaust in incredible circumstances, became the leading medal winner at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, claimed asylum in Australia while the Soviet Union were driving tanks through Budapest, resettled in Israel, and is still going strong at 100! She is a dead set legend.

If you want to learn more, Sean Ingle wrote beautifully about her earlier this year. I’m delighted she was involved in the opening ceremony.

Agnes Keleti has lived a life.

Greatest Olympian - Here’s an impossible question to chew over for the rest of time: who is the greatest of all Olympians? As the IOC suggest below, Michael Phelps, with 28 medals (23 gold), has very, very strong claims. But then, swimming has so many events there has to be some kind of algorithm to compare Phelps with Usain Bolt, or Jesse Owens, or Eric Moussambani.


Cycling - There’s been a breakaway group of eight very very early into this 234km road race:


There’s a 90 second gap, for what it’s worth, but the peloton could not care less. Clearly they are unconcerned about the calibre of rider ahead and more worried about this long challenging course with three serious climbs.


Gold! Women's 10m air rifle - Yang Qian (China)

The first gold medal of these Games has been won! After a high quality final the last pair of shots were full of nerves but Qian Yang proved the goldeneye, holding off Anastasia Galashina (ROC). Nina Christen (SUI) picks up the bronze.

Yang Qian wins gold for China
Yang Qian wins gold for China. Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA


We’re down to the final pair of shooters in the women’s 10m air rifle final. Anastasia Galashina and Qian Yang. Who will win the first gold medal of Tokyo 2020?

Huzzah for the Kookaburras! Australia prevail in a rollercoaster. 2-0 up, 2-3 down, then 5-3 victors. More from Kieran Pender to follow.


After that shiny poptastic palate cleanser it’s time to thank Bryan and the US crew for their excellent lead-off work on this day-long liveblog extravaganza. It’s now time for Team Australia to carry the baton around the first corner.

What’s on the agenda over the next five or so hours?

  • MEDALS - The first medal ceremony of Tokyo 2020 will arrive soon following the conclusion of the Women’s 10m Air Rifle Shooting Final. We’re into the latter stages of this contest.
  • MEDALS - The Men’s Road Race has just got underway in the cycling.

We’ll be across the all the breaking news from the many events underway across Tokyo, and we’ll be keeping a special eye on the Australian competitors, with the men’s hockey seconds away from finishing up against hosts Japan.

Ruddy hell, it’s the Olympics. And this is Olympia...

That’s all for me, but our Jonathan Howcroft is stepping in to take you through the next few hours.

The first ever Olympic 3x3 basketball result is in the books as the top-ranked Russian women’s team held off a spirited challenge from hosts Japan to win 21-18, reaching the 21-point mark with 25.6 seconds remaining at the Aomi Urban Sports Park.

The rules for 3x3 basketball are made for a faster-paced competition than the traditional five-on-five game. Teams play with one- and two-point baskets over a single 10-minute period (with a 12-second shot clock), though a game can end sooner if a team reaches 21 points inside the distance. If a game is tied at the end of regulation, the first team to score two points in overtime wins. Each side is awarded two free throws from the seventh team foul, then two free throws and possession after the 10th.

“I look at it like beach volleyball is to the normal volleyball,” said Robbie Hummel, who captained the US men’s team to the 2019 world championship. “It’s a really cool spin on a really popular sport. I think that most kids growing up, you grew up playing in three-on-three tournaments, and you grew up playing three-on-three in the backyards, so it’s very relatable to the fans. Everybody has played three-on-three at some time in their life.

Portuguese surfer Frederico Morais, the world No 11 who is regarded as the top European surfer in the Tokyo Games, has announced that he tested positive for Covid-19 and will miss the sport’s Olympic debut.

“This is likely the saddest video I’ve ever had to post. In 2019 I qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics that were postponed because of Covid-19. And now, because of the virus I won’t be able to compete nor represent my country,” Morais stated on Instagram.

“Lucky my life has always been filled with obstacles that I’ve overcome one by one, this will be no different. Paris 2024 I’ll be ready! Good luck to my country Portugal, I’ll be there with you in thought!”

The 29-year-old said he was “very careful” in a statement issued through Portugal’s Olympic team, adding: “I have been fully vaccinated for over a month, but I ended up contracting the virus. I feel fine and I will carry out my isolation. I will be following every second of our team.”

Morais was scheduled to surf against Japan’s Kanoa Igarashi, France’s Jeremy Flores and Peru’s Miguel Tudela when the eight-day shortboard surfing competition period begins Sunday at Tsurigasaki beach and remains listed on the heat draw.

The International Surfing Association had no immediate comment but its deadline to register alternates is 3pm on Saturday in Tokyo, roughly four and a half hours from now.

Syrian table tennis player Hend Zaza, who is the youngest competitor in Tokyo, has just launched her Olympic campaign at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium. The 12-year-old is facing Austria’s Jia Liu in the women’s singles preliminary round.

Zaza, who was her country’s female flag bearer in the opening ceremony, becomes the fifth-youngest known Olympian in history and the youngest since Romanian figure skater Beatrice Hustiu in 1968.

The youngest Olympian ever was 10-year-old gymnast Dimitrios Loundras, who won bronze in a team event at the birth of the modern Olympics in Athens in 1896.

I’m heading off now but Bryan Graham is coming on deck to take you through the next hour or so.

A small storm is brewing in the pool. The US Olympic team revealed that around 100 of its 613 athletes are not vaccinated (which is around the same rate as athletes at the Olympics as a whole). One of those is swimmer Michael Andrew, who said he had not got a jab as it could affect his training routine.

That led former Olympic champion – and one of three athlete representatives on USA Swimming’s board of directors – Maya DiRado to voice her concerns on Twitter.

“That Michael would make a decision that puts even a bit of risk on his teammates for his own perceived well-being frustrates me,” DiRado wrote.

Some of Andrew’s fellow US swimmers have defended him. Former gold medalist Anthony Ervin said Andrew has had Covid and therefore has immunity [science bit: you can get Covid more than once]. While Andrew’s teammate Tom Shield tweeted: “What part of that responsibility involves shaming one of our Olympian’s (sic) on the eve of competition?”

Athletes do not need to be vaccinated to compete at the Games, but they are tested regularly.

The hosts are facing Australia in the men’s hockey at the moment. It’s still early days and it’s 0-0 after 15 minutes or so.

Tom Dart is following Team USA for us in Tokyo and has an update on what today holds for the expected medal table-toppers:

After yesterday’s flag-waving at the opening ceremony, with baseball’s Eddy Alvarez and basketball great Sue Bird wielding the big Stars and Stripes for Team USA, much American interest today will revolve around the women’s soccer team, who face New Zealand at Tokyo Stadium.

The US raised the white flag on Wednesday, surrendering three goals to Sweden without reply in a shocking and deserved outcome that ended the team’s 44-match unbeaten run. The US certainly should beat the Football Ferns, who were outplayed by Australia in a 2-1 loss in their opening Group G game in Tokyo. They are coached by Glasgow-born Tom Sermanni, who was fired as US head coach in 2014 after 16 months in charge. Anything less than a comfortable win will pile pressure on the current coach, Vlatko Andonovski.

USA’s softball team have got off to a strong start in Japan
USA’s softball team have got off to a strong start in Japan. Photograph: Kazuhiro Fujihara/AFP/Getty Images

The US softball team, which has enjoyed a happier start, winning their first two games, face Mexico as the opening round continues. There’s also some novel basketball action as a new event, 3x3, gets underway. The US women face hotly-tipped France and Mongolia at Aomi Urban Sports Park; the American men didn’t qualify. And the US women meet the hosts in the preliminary round of the water polo, with the team going for a third straight gold medal.

Among the new sports in Tokyo is surfing. It kicks (paddles?) off this weekend and Mike Hytner has a little more on its Games debut:

One to watch in the women’s 10m air rifle today is Luna Solomon, who is competing for the Refugee Team. She fled her country, Eritrea, in 2015 before arriving in Switzerland. She took up shooting there and is now competing in Tokyo. She’s near the bottom of the qualifying round at the moment and almost certainly won’t make the final but just being here is quite something.

Luna Solomon during a training session in the build-up to the Games
Luna Solomon during a training session in the build-up to the Games. Photograph: Denis Balibouse/Reuters


Barack Obama would like to wish you good luck (if you are a world-class athlete. And American. But I’m sure he wishes you well even if you’re not):

Last night was a big one for team Australia, with the pageantry and symbolism of the opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium. Even though just 63 members of Australia’s 480-odd delegation formally marched, the rest gathered around their televisions in the athletes’ village or their team hotels (for those out of Tokyo).

There might be a few sleepy heads this morning. It was an emotional night for the Aussies, with Patty Mills becoming the first Indigenous Australian to fly the flag in an opening ceremony. Mills has been a major force for Australian basketball, with Tokyo 2020 his fourth Olympics and he is widely-admired by his peers for his sporting success and social justice activism.

But this morning attention turns to the action on the pitch/pool/field. Australia do not have high medal hopes on day one, but there are plenty of important preliminary encounters around the venues. The Kookaburras face Japan in the hockey, Richie Porte, Lucas Hamilton and Luke Durbridge are all in action in the road race and Jian Fang Lay will make her sixth Olympic appearance in the table tennis. Tonight, all eyes will be on the heats at the Aquatics Centre, with Emma McKeon expected to shine in the 100m butterfly, Elijah Winnington and Jack McLoughlin jostling for lane position in the 400m freestyle and the women’s 100m freestyle relay closing out the night.


We asked earlier which new sports you’d like to see at the Olympics. Brucie Morris wants to see lacrosse:

“It’s a sport that hasn’t appeared since 1948, and 1908 was the last time it was a medal sport (Canada beating GB 14-10). The international federation, World Lacrosse has just been awarded full IOC member status, and the big aim is to be invited to the LA 2028 Summer Games due to the popularity in North America.

“It’s an extremely fast paced sport, and the newest format of the game is purpose built (for good and ill) for TV with the Olympics in mind. Men’s and women’s lacrosse will appear as a full event at the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Alabama, where hopefully the Haudenosaunee/Iroquois Confederacy will appear as the very first representative of a First Nation indigenous peoples at a multi disciplinary event!”

If nothing else, we would be treated to some excellent names. Shackleford Stanwick and Bizzy Blanding anyone?

Some facts about Team USA (and NBA) star Kevin Durant:

1) He is very good at basketball

2) He is (surprisingly) very tall

3) He is very good at basketball

4) He is just a little thin skinned

5) He is very good at basketball

6) His birthday is 29 September

Taking the last point into consideration, why were the US team singing Happy Birthday to him today?

Following last night’s opening ceremony, the sun has risen on the first full day of action at Tokyo 2020. The heat has been stifling on the ground so far – even last night at the Olympic Stadium the temperature was in the high 20s celsius until past midnight. How the athletes cope with the humid conditions has been a major topic of conversation in the build-up; we saw the effects it could have yesterday when a Russian archer passed out from heat stress.

People help Russian archer Svetlena Gombaeva after she felt faint in the heat as temperatures soared at the Olympics
People help Russian archer Svetlena Gombaeva after she felt faint in the heat as temperatures soared at the Olympics. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

And we’re set for another scorcher today, with temperatures expected to hit 32C. That is sure to pose a test for the male cyclists in their gruelling road race on boiling tarmac around Mount Fuji while hockey players will also feel the heat on the astroturf of Oi Hockey Stadium, with the men’s tournament about to begin when Australia face the home nation.


Hello. We’re finally underway (even if we’ve been sort of underway for a few days now, but here is what is coming up in the next few hours:

Women’s 10m air rifle: now

Men’s hockey: Australia v Japan (1.30am BST/8.30pm ET/10.30am AEST)

Men’s rowing: (2am BST/9pm ET/11am AEST)

Men’s cycling road race begins: 3am BST/10pm ET/12pm AEST)

My friend and colleague Jeff Zillgitt and I once had the idea for a Pub Games that would include darts, various billiard/pool sports, foosball and that shuffleboard thing you sometimes see. Today’s bar-goers in the US are more attached to trivia contests, which could be a lot of fun. Maybe Jeopardy legend Ken Jennings could do commentary.

Tom, take it away.

Trivia and new sports

Miguel Aviles has answered my question about the hat trick in the first day of women’s football competition with Vivienne Miedema of the Netherlands. I suppose so, though she went on to score a fourth. I’d actually forgotten about her because, in the same game, Zambia’s Barbra Banda also had a hat trick.

On new sports, Stephen Broadley asks a legitimate question: “Why are they introducing so many sports that can’t be measured objectively?” Because controversy sells! (Also because the kids seem to like these things.)

Please start directing your ideas for new sports to the brilliant Tom Lutz, who will be taking over for me in ... two minutes? Wow, this just flew by. Years of anticipation to get these Olympics underway, so I suppose it’s no surprise that it seems like it’s going quickly now that it’s here.

Trinidad and Tobago doesn’t have many athletes in the Olympics in events other than track and field / athletics, but one of them, rower Felice Chow, just left her fellow competitors in the single sculls repechage not just in her wake but behind her wake. Not bad for a 44-year-old. (It all goes downhill after that, I say as a 51-year-old who hasn’t take care of himself in the last 25 years.)

Trinidad and Tobago’s Felice Chow competes in the women’s single sculls rowing heats Friday in Tokyo. She did not qualify from this heat but worked her way into the next rounds in Saturday’s repechage.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Felice Chow competes in the women’s single sculls rowing heats Friday in Tokyo. She did not qualify from this heat but worked her way into the next rounds in Saturday’s repechage. Photograph: Luis Acosta/AFP/Getty Images

What event would you like to see in the Olympics?

This was a question raised in the last blog when we talked about Ultimate, which was left off the Paris program in favor of breakdancing. Sport climbing, surfing and skateboarding will be carried over from Tokyo; baseball, softball and karate will not.

One thought from bethyl t via email: “firstly to resurrect the swimming obstacle race, last seen in the 1900 games, because there seem to be endless swimming disciplines but none that involve swimming over poles and underneath boats. bring it back.

“secondly, and i would really love for this to happen - double dutch! it’s so much fun, endless room for creative expression, and it’s exhilirating to watch. the sport remains strong - i believe there is a league structure in the states, and they have regular tournaments too. would be a joy to see it at the games.”

That’s old-school right there:


You’ve seen the ceremony (or at least the highlights). You’ve seen some football and softball (or at least some highlights, hopefully including the women’s football hat-trick – first person to email [email protected] with the name of the scorer wins ... their name in this blog). You’ve seen rowing preliminary heats (or at least some highlights). You’ve spent a couple of hours playing the Google Doodle.

Now it all begins for real.

Any cycling man still standing after the Tour de France will spend another few hours in the saddle chasing Olympic gold. People will start punching, kicking, throwing, choking and brandishing swords at each other without being arrested. Horses and people will do horse people things. We’ll all become instant experts on 3x3 basketball and wonder how the US men could have failed to qualify in a sport played in thousands of parks and driveways across the country.

Badminton players, beach volleyball players, indoor volleyball players, tennis players and table tennis players will hit things over nets of various sizes. People will lift heavy things. Men and women will vault and flip. Swimmers and rowers will go fast across the water’s surface or slightly below it. And handball, field hockey, softball and water polo teams will fight to nudge foot-soccerball out of the spotlight.

The first medal, though, is in women’s 10-meter air rifle, which always seems to have a nice story involved. In 2008, the winner was the Czech Republic’s Katerina Emmons, who had a new surname thanks to her decision to say a few comforting words to US shooter Matt Emmons in 2004 after he spoiled his chances of winning a second gold medal by firing at the wrong target on his last shot. In 2016, the surprise winner was US teenager Ginny Thrasher, who smiled through her few hours of fame before returning to West Virginia University to win some NCAA hardware, complete a biomedical engineering degree and become a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship.

These Olympians ... such slackers.