Tokyo Olympics: Games in a pandemic, new sports, British medal hopes and world stars to watch


A masked spectator overlooks the Tokyo skyline that houses the Olympic Stadium
The Tokyo 2020 Opening Ceremony will be held at the Olympic Stadium on Friday (12:00 GMT).
place: Olympic Stadium, Tokyo Date: Friday 23 July Begins: 12:00 GMT
coverage: Watch live broadcasts on BBC One, BBC iPlayer and online; Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live; Live text on the BBC Sport website and application.

The Tokyo Olympic Games are on our doorstep. They look and feel different than any other games of the past, but they are here. in the last.

With an unexpected extra year of preparation under their belts, more than 11,300 athletes from 207 countries will compete over the next two weeks, all vying for the medal they’ve worked for so long.

When the Games were postponed in March 2020, organizers said the Olympic torch “could become a light at the end of the tunnel”. As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to spread around the world, this metaphorical tunnel is still being traversed, but Friday’s opening ceremony offers a glimmer of that light.

“I think it will be a moment of joy and relief when entering the stadium, a special moment of joy for the athletes because I know how much they miss this moment,” said IOC President Thomas Bach.

“Then they can finally be there, they can enjoy this moment under very special circumstances.”

Olympics in a pandemic

Masks, quarantine and saliva tests. Make no mistake, this is an Olympic Games like no other.

With Tokyo in a state of emergency throughout the Olympics after a sharp rise in Covid-19 infections, the Games have come under fire from the Japanese public, with most saying they want the Olympics to be canceled or postponed again.

But safety is of paramount importance to the organisers, and huge precautions are being taken, including holding games behind closed doors with no fans, either from Japan or from abroad, allowed inside the stadiums.

As for athletes, they are also subject to strict restrictions. They must wear a face mask at all times – except when eating, drinking, training, competing or sleeping – and reduce physical interaction with others, and are tested for Covid-19 every day.

Adam Petty by the pool in Tokyo 2020 wearing a mask
Adam Peaty of Team GB looks to defend his Olympic title in the 100m breaststroke

But unfortunately, the virus has already affected the games, before they officially started.

On Friday, 19 new cases of Covid-19 were reported, bringing the total cases related to Games personnel to 106. There were 11 positive cases among athletes in Tokyo.

Six GB athletes had to isolate their rooms after being identified as having close contact with someone on their flight who subsequently tested positive for Covid-19.

American tennis player Coco Gauff had to withdraw from her first appearance at the Games after testing positive before arriving in Tokyo, while GB’s Dan Evans, Yohanna Konta and world-ranked shooting player Amber Hill withdrew for the same reason.

what’s new?

There will be a record 339 medals held in 33 sports, with five new sports – and 34 new events in total – added to the Tokyo 2020 program by the International Olympic Committee. About 48.8% of the athletes competing in the Tokyo Olympics are women – a record number.

The five new sports are karate, skiing, sports climbing, baseball/softball, and surfing. Baseball and softball are technically not “new” sports in the Olympic program, but they have not been contested at the Games since Beijing 2008.

New events have been introduced into the programs for boxing, canoe slalom, canoe racing, cycling, rowing, and swimming, while new mixed-gender events are in place, including a 4x100m mixed relay in swimming and a mixed relay in triathlon.

These sports were introduced in an attempt to appeal to younger audiences and reflect the “sport urbanization trend”.

“We want to pass the sport on to young people. With the many options available to young people, we can no longer expect that they will automatically come to us. We have to go to them,” said IOC President Bach.

This year’s Games are also doing their part for sustainability. The medals were made from recycled mobile phones, while the Olympic torch was made from waste aluminum from temporary housing built in the aftermath of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.

Only eight new competing sites have been built from scratch, while much of the energy running in Tokyo 2020 comes from renewable sources.

In total, the games will cost £11.5 billion, up 22% due to the one-year delay.

british medal predictions

For the first time in 125 years, Team GB . has Choose a larger number of male math to compete in the Olympics, with 201 of the 376 athletes originally selected being women. There will be British representation in 26 of the 33 Olympic sports in Tokyo.

Team GB won 65 medals in London 2012, increasing to 67 in Rio four years later. In Tokyo, UK Sport says it’s hoping Between 45 and 70 medals he will win.

This dwarfed the ambition of between 54 and 92 medals set in 2018, taking into account the “exceptional circumstances” presented to athletes and staff in preparation for the Games.

But who will win those medals?

swimmer Adam Petty (100m chest), gymnast Max Whitlock (Throat horse) and the star of Taekwondo Jade Jones She is expected to keep her gold medals from Rio, as Jones – the 57kg winner in London and Rio – competes to become the first British female athlete to win gold at three consecutive Olympics.

Track cyclists Jason and Laura Kinney Both have the chance to become Britain’s most successful Olympian – Jason is currently on the record with Sir Chris Hoy with six gold medals, while Laura is already the most successful British Olympian with four gold medals.

hostility Dina Asher Smith He is the face of Team GB games and has medal chances in 100m and 200m, while skateboard Sky Brown, the youngest female Olympian in the GP at just 13 years old, is a medal contender in the women’s park event.

Sailor Hannah Mills and rowing Mohamed Sbihi will Leading the GB team at the opening ceremony on Friday, with Tokyo being the first Olympics in which countries could select two flag bearers in an effort to increase gender equality.

Global stars to watch

Simone Biles training in front of the Olympic rings
American gymnast Simone Biles, 24, has won five Olympic medals, including four gold

American gymnast Simone Biles He was one of the superstars in Rio five years ago.

The 24-year-old won four gold and one bronze medals on her debut at the Games, and is set to compete in all five events once again. If she defends her all-around title, she will be the first female Olympic gymnast to do so since 1968.

Two more Americans are expected to dominate the pool. ONE VELACINOR He has “only” two Olympic golds so far, but the 24-year-old is the favorite to win as many as six golds in Tokyo, while Katie Ledeckywho won four gold medals in Rio to add to the 2012 London medal, is expected to compete in up to six events.

At the Olympic Stadium, look for the Jamaican six-time Olympic medalist runner Shelly Ann Fraser Price As well as Swedish Swedish vaulter Armand Duplantis.

Number one tennis world in Serbia Novak Djokovic He continues his quest for Grand Slam gold, having won the Australian Open, the French Open, and Wimbledon this year, and needs the Olympic and US Open titles to complete that feat.

But arguably one of the most anticipated performances at the Tokyo Games will come from a 43-year-old transgender weightlifter. Laurel Hubbard.

New Zealand’s Hubbard, who broke male national records when he was young, will be the first moving athlete to compete in the Olympics in an individual event – the women’s 87kg class.

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