10 Things To Watch For When The Tokyo Olympics Begin


NPR 20 July, 2021 - 06:00am 10 views

When is the opening ceremony for the Olympics 2021?

When do the Olympics start in 2021? The 2021 Olympic Games will begin on Friday, July 23 with the Olympic opening ceremony. That will occur at 7 a.m. ET on Friday while it will occur at 8 p.m. local time in Tokyo. Sporting NewsWhen do the Olympics start? Opening ceremony date, time, schedule for 2021 Tokyo Games

TOKYO — The Tokyo Summer Olympics are here.

The start of the largest event in sports after a year postponement is a sign of hope for many. But critics view holding the Games during pandemic times as an unacceptable risk to the world's top athletes and the Japanese people.

For months, questions have persisted about whether these Olympics, which are deeply unpopular in Japan, will actually happen.

Now we know the answer is (almost surely) yes. We're just a few hours away from the first event.

The strict safety protocols haven't been able to stop positive coronavirus cases from surfacing in the Olympic bubble, as Japanese officials try to keep them contained and away from a largely unvaccinated population. In Tokyo, after much back and forth, organizers decided to hold the events without any spectators in the stands.

Good news for anyone who simply can't wait for the Games to start – you'll be able to catch U.S. women play their first games of soccer and softball two days before the Opening Ceremony. The U.S. women's soccer team will square off against Sweden. The game will start before the sun rises on the East Coast, at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday.

The U.S. women's team is trying to become the first ever reigning women's World Cup champion to win Olympic gold.

U.S. women's softball players will face Italy in a matchup starting at 11:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday. Softball is making its return to the Olympics for the first time since 2008, when Japan took gold. Since then, U.S. has won the most world titles, followed by Japan. Baseball is also marking its return to the Games.

The three-hour ceremony marking the official start of the Games will begin at 7 a.m. ET on Friday. Organizers have released very little practical information about what we'll see at the ceremony, which is themed "United by Emotion" and directed by Japanese comedian Kentaro Kobayashi.

But we do know that like the Games in general in Tokyo, there will not be spectators watching in person, though some officials, VIPs and members of the press will be in the stands. A major feature of the Opening Ceremony is the "Parade of Nations," when groups of athletes from each country walk into the arena. Fewer athletes are expected to attend the ceremony this time because many are not allowed to stay for the entire Games due to coronavirus restrictions.

The first medals of the Games are expected to be handed out to the winners of the women's 10m air rifle final – and 11 total sets of medals will be up for grabs on that day.

In previous Olympics, dignitaries placed the medals around the athletes' necks as they stood on the podium and leaned forward during the medal ceremony. But Olympic officials have announced that due to coronavirus concerns, athletes will be presented with a medal on a tray and then will put them around their own necks.

U.S. star Katie Ledecky, a six-time Olympic medalist, is competing in up to six events. That includes three she holds world records for – the 400 meter freestyle, 800 meter freestyle and 1,500 meter freestyle. Caeleb Dressel, who is yet to win individual Olympic gold, is competing in three individual events and up to four relay events. He holds the world record in the 100 meter butterfly – a record he could break in Tokyo.

Other swimmers to watch include Simone Manuel, who narrowly won the 50 meter freestyle event at Olympic Trials. The team's youngest swimmer, 15-year-old Katie Grimes, will compete in the 800 meter freestyle event. Swimming events span from Saturday July 24 through the evening of July 31 ET.

Two board sports with rebellious, counter-culture vibes will be part of the Olympics for the first time. It's seen as an effort to attract younger viewers to the largest competition in sports. For surfing, nature — and an expert wave forecaster — will decide when the competition begins. If the waves cooperate in Chiba's Tsurigasaki Beach, about 40 miles from Tokyo, we could see the finals in this competition in the evening on July 27 ET.

Countries with longtime surfing histories such as the U.S., Australia and Brazil are expected to do well in the sport's debut.

The U.S.'s Nyjah Huston is a medal hopeful in the men's street competition, and Japan has strong contenders in the event, including Yuto Horigome. 13-year old U.K. skater Sky Brown, one of the youngest competitors at the Olympics, is a medal contender in the women's park event.

Simone Biles, the best gymnast in the world, is essentially competing against herself at this point. She recently debuted a move that is so difficult, no other female gymnast has ever performed it in competition. Biles is hoping to replicate her success at the 2016 Olympics and win her second all-around title, and the final for that event starts at 6:50 a.m. ET on July 29. The U.S. women's team final is two days earlier, on July 27.

A big question is who will take silver in the women's all-around competition. Biles' teammate Sunisa Lee is a medal contender, as is Viktoria Listunova from Russia and Mai Murakami from Japan.

The most highly anticipated women's sprint event, the 100 meter final, is set to blaze down the track in Tokyo on Saturday, July 31 at 8:50 a.m. ET. Jamaica's Shelley-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who has won the event in two previous Olympics, is trying to become the first woman to win three gold medals at this distance.

The runner viewed as the best hope for the U.S. to medal in the event won't be on the starting line. Sha'Carri Richardson, who won the 100 meter race at the U.S. Olympic Trials, was later disqualified after testing positive for the psychoactive component of marijuana.

The U.S. women's basketball team is overwhelmingly dominant — it has won gold in every Summer Olympics since 1996, an astounding six times in a row. They haven't lost a game at the Olympics since 1992 — and that loss was the only one since 1984.

The members of the team collectively have a lot of Olympic experience. Two team members — Sue Bird, 40, and Diana Taurasi, 39 — are gearing up for their fifth Olympics.

The U.S. women will play their first game at 12:40 a.m. ET on Tuesday, July 27. And if all goes well, they'll compete for yet another gold medal on the evening of Sunday Aug. 7 ET.

What would a gathering of the world's athletes be these days without protest? In recent years, athlete activism has become common — and controversial.

Olympic activism will be on display as early as Wednesday, when competition begins in women's soccer and softball. The British women's soccer team opens against Chile (Wednesday July 21 at 3:30 a.m. ET), with a pledge to collectively take a knee before its games in Tokyo. "It's important we use our platforms to help in any way we can," said English defender Demi Stokes.

Athletes and others in the Olympic bubble have to go through many rounds of testing and strict safety measures to try to keep the coronavirus contained. Tens of thousands of people have entered Japan for the Olympics, and the first positive tests have popped up in the Olympic village. International Olympic Committee officials acknowledge that risks exist but stress that they are minimal.

Still, as foreign visitors continue to stream into the country, questions remain about whether the overwhelmed Olympic organizers will be able to keep positive cases isolated from other competitors and the general population. It's also clear that a positive case on a team could potentially mean the whole group wouldn't be allowed to compete. If medal favorites are forced to quarantine, that could mean major upsets.

Read full article at NPR

Tokyo Olympic cardboard beds were not designed to discourage sex

AFP Factcheck 20 July, 2021 - 09:01am

The misleading claim was published in a blog in the Philippines on July 19, 2021.

The post suggests the cardboard beds cannot withstand the weight of more than one person.

A similar claim went viral in Asia, Africa, and the US. It was shared in multiple social media posts on Twitter here and here; on Facebook here, here and here; and on TikTok here.

In Asia alone, it was shared in Indonesian, Thai, Korean and Bengali-language posts.

It was also shared by athletes online.

Australian basketball player Andrew Bogut tweeted: "Great gesture...until the athletes finish their said events and the 1000's of condoms handed out all over the village are put to use."

Distance runner Paul Chelimo said the beds were "aimed at avoiding intimacy among athletes".

Before the onset of the pandemic, manufacturer Airweave told AFP in January 2020 the beds were sturdy enough to withstand a weight of 200 kilos (440 pounds) and have been through rigorous stress tests.

Organisers reiterated on July 19 the cardboard beds were "sturdy" after claims they were not strong enough to hold the weight of more than one person.

After the misleading claim circulated online in July 2021, Irish gymnast Rhys McClenaghan filmed himself jumping repeatedly on a bed to debunk claims the beds were designed to discourage sex.

"The beds are meant to be anti-sex. They're made out of cardboard, yes, but apparently they're meant to break with sudden movements. It's fake — fake news!" McClenaghan said in the video posted on Twitter.

“Anti-sex” beds at the Olympics pic.twitter.com/2jnFm6mKcB

Olympic organisers originally unveiled the bed's design in September 2019, months before the first case of Covid-19 was recorded.

The beds were designed to show Tokyo 2020's commitment towards sustainability, organisers said.

Thousands of athletes will stay at the Olympic Village during the pandemic-delayed 2020 Tokyo Games, which are set to start on Friday.

Toyota pulls Olympics advertising from Tokyo Games in Japan amid national backlash

Yahoo Sports 20 July, 2021 - 09:01am

Dan Wetzel, Pat Forde, Pete Thamel

The Tokyo-based automaker announced on Monday that it's pulling Olympics-related TV advertising in Japan during the Games, which start on Friday with the Opening Ceremony. It will, however continue to advertise in other markets, including the United States.

Toyota's decision arrives as the spread of COVID-19 continues to rise in Tokyo, prompting concern that the presence of the Olympics will only further the public health crisis. With fans barred from attending the Games amid a nationwide state of emergency and lockdowns limiting business operations in Tokyo, organizers and Japan are expected to miss out on billions of dollars in revenue.  

A survey conducted by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper released on Monday found that two-thirds of respondents don't believe that Japan can host a safe and secure Olympics. Other recent polls have shown nationwide opposition to hosting the Games ranging from 50 to 78 percent.

“Various aspects of this Olympics aren’t accepted by the public, Toyota’s chief communications officer Jun Nagata told reporters in Japan on Monday.

While the company pulled it Japanese advertising, Toyota also announced that chief executive Akio Toyoda won't attend Friday's Opening Ceremony. This is despite Toyota's sponsorship of roughly 200 Olympic and Paralympic athletes, according to the Associated Press. The company plans to continue to support those athletes, according to Nagata.

Toyota is one of the International Olympic Committee's most significant partners. According to AP, the automaker signed an eight-year deal worth nearly $1 billion with the IOC in 2015 to become a global Olympics sponsor. The company explained its decision to continue to advertise elsewhere in a statement.

“The media plan for Toyota’s Olympic and Paralympic global ad campaign is managed by individual countries and regions," the statement reads, per The Hill. "In Japan, the local Toyota office previously decided not to air the campaign out of sensitivity to the COVID-19 situation in that country.

“In the U.S., the campaign has already been shown nationally and will continue to be shown as planned with our media partners during the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.”

Poland had sent 23 swimmers to Japan but the PZP was forced to cut the squad down to 17 based on world governing body FINA's qualifying rules. PZP President Pawel Slominski apologised and said he fully understood the anger of the swimmers who returned home over the weekend.

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