The first action for Team GB will be the women’s football team, who are in action early on Wednesday morning against Chile at the Sapporo Dome. Follow all the latest updates surrounding the Games below:
Tunisia athlete boycotts Tokyo Olympics despite qualifying
Tunisia’s double Olympic swimming gold medallist Oussama Mellouli has announced his international retirement, saying he had decided to “boycott” Tokyo despite qualifying for his sixth Games.
The 37-year-old won 1,500m gold in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the open-water marathon in London four years later, when he also claimed a 1,500m bronze medal in the pool. He qualified for Tokyo at an event in Portugal in June.
“After a month of suffering, I lose all hope of reconciliation or of winning my case. So I decided to retire from international competitions and boycott the Tokyo Games,” he posted on Instagram.
Mellouli did not give details but media reports referenced a long-running legal dispute with the Tunisian swimming federation.
Competing in Tokyo would have made Mellouli, who in Beijing beat Australia’s Grant Hackett to become Tunisia’s first gold medallist in nearly half a century, only the fourth swimmer to compete in six Games.
He was already the first swimmer to win gold in both the pool and open water.
The Tunisian had planned to retire in 2020 but delayed that decision when the Tokyo Olympics were postponed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mellouli was suspended for 18 months in 2007 after a positive dope test for the banned substance Adderall.
South African footballers rejoin training after Covid isolation
With two days to go until their opening Olympic soccer match against hosts Japan, South Africa’s coach David Notoane said the health of his players was his main concern after COVID-19 left their preparations in disarray.
Severely depleted by coronavirus infections and withdrawals before they left for the Games, the squad faced further setbacks at the weekend after two players and a video analyst tested positive in Tokyo.
“My biggest fear at the moment is not facing Japan, but is the well-being, the health of the players,” Notoane told reporters on Tuesday at the Tokyo Stadium, saying he had just 17 players left to choose from.
They returned to training on Monday after a week’s absence, giving them very little time to acclimatise to a new environment.
“(We are) coming into … new weather patterns where it’s hot, it’s humid. We come out of winter in South Africa,” he said.
Frustrated but resigned to a news conference dominated by questions about COVID-19, Notoane said his team were grateful for the chance to compete in Japan, given that “the worst-case scenario could have been that we are suspended from the tournament”.
South Africa were looking to fly in reinforcements for their remaining Group A pool matches against France and Mexico, he added.
“Mentally it’s very tough,” he said. “It’s not what we came here for, it’s not what we expected. We’ve done everything in our power to make sure we come in clean 100%, but it’s also difficult to be in isolation at the moment for most of us.
“…However, as a group, we know that we have an opportunity on Thursday.”
Athletes to protest and bring back Olympics ‘activism’
Athlete activism is making a comeback at these Olympic Games.
When play starts at the Tokyo Games on Wednesday, acts of free expression of the kind athletes were long banned from making at the Olympics will take center stage.
The British women’s soccer team has pledged to take a knee before kickoff against Chile in their Olympic tournament opener in Sapporo, to show support for racial justice.
“We want to show to everyone this is something serious,” Britain defender Demi Stokes said. “What a way to do it, on an Olympic stage.”
One hour later in Tokyo, the United States and Sweden should follow in a gesture recognized globally since the murder of George Floyd 14 months ago. The England and Italy men’s teams took a knee before the European Championship final this month.
What is common in modern soccer starts a new era for Olympic athletes more than 50 years after the raised black-gloved fists of American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos in Mexico City made them icons and pariahs.
Still, it is a limited freedom allowed by the International Olympic Committee, which just this month eased its longstanding ban on all athlete protest inside the Games field of play. The change followed two reviews in 18 months by the IOC’s own athletes commission which advised against it.
Gestures are now allowed before races and games start, on the field, and at the start line.
Medal podiums remain off limits for protest, and even the IOC concessions left each sport’s governing body free to retain the ban.
Lawyers who study Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter — that banned any kind of “demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda” until July 2 — see issues ahead with athletes and the IOC heading on a fast track to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
“I think we can clearly expect some frictions around Rule 50 in the coming weeks,” sports law academic Antoine Duval said when hosting a recent debate on the inevitable athlete activism at Tokyo.
Olympics organisers only focused on “delivering succesful Games”
Olympic organisers have responded to Toshiro Muto saying he would keep an eye on infection numbers and hold discussions with organisers over cancelling the Tokyo Olympics at the last moment if necessary.
Organisers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are fully concentrating on delivering a “successful Games”, a spokesman said on Tuesday, after the head of the organising committee said he did not rule out a cancellation of the global sports event.
“We are concentrating 100% on delivering successful Games,” the spokesman said.
MPs call for diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics
Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy led calls for a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics.
She said: “We have watched as the situation has deteriorated in Hong Kong and genocide is committed in Xinjiang.
“He has issued statements and introduced sanctions whilst still clinging to the absurd prospect of boarding a plane to Beijing next year to participate in a PR coup for the Chinese government, asking the royal family and senior politicians to stand by while journalists are rounded up, pro-democracy protesters are arrested and a million Uighur are incarcerated in detention camps.
“In October last year, before he was overruled by the Chancellor and the Prime Minister, he said there comes a point where sport and politics cannot be separated.
“When is that point?”
Mr Raab replied: “The participation of any national team in the Olympics is a matter for the British Olympic Association.
“They are required as a matter of law under the International Olympic Committee regulations to take those decisions independently.
“We have led the international response on Xinjiang, but also on Hong Kong.
“Of course, as we have said, we would consider what level of Government representation is at the Winter Olympics in due course.”
Pardoe not letting jellyfish fear affect dreams of Olympic medal
Don’t tell Hector Pardoe about the six-foot, 450lb jellyfish that have been flooding the coasts of Japan in their millions in recent years as a consequence of climate change.
The Wrexham 20-year-old, who will contest the 10km open water swimming event at the Tokyo Olympics, has had to overcome his fear of the translucent giants in order to carve a successful career away from the pool.
In fact Pardoe, who won the men’s Olympic qualifier in Setubal last month to confirm his place, has revealed it almost put him off heading into the water at all.
Pardoe recalled: “When I qualified I got a load of messages, and one was from a boy I used to train with when we were about 12 years old.
“He sent me a photo of a training camp in Slovenia, and he reminded me of how when we would go in the sea and I was so scared that I couldn’t even put my face in the water.
“We were talking about how far I’d come, from not wanting to even swim in the sea to now qualifying for a two-hour race in the sea at the Olympics.”
Pardoe switched to open water in frustration after trailing other rivals in the pool and quickly found he adapted better to the changing conditions and courses. A subsequent decision to switch his training to France paid off as he continued his rise through the sport.
Pardoe will contest the men’s 10km race at the Odaiba Marine Park on August 5, one day after team-mate Alice Dearing makes history by becoming the first black swimmer to represent Great Britain in the women’s race.
Pardoe admits that while he bears little resemblance to the 12-year-old who was reluctant to put his face in the water, his underwater wobble remains – and that is not ideal in a country which boasts the Nomura’s jellyfish, one of the biggest of the species in the world.
“I had quite a brutal experience with jellyfish in Malta in 2018 in the European Juniors,” remembered Pardoe. “I was at the front of the pack going through the jellyfish first, and I got some nasty stings up my arms for which I’ve still got the scars.
“If I was just swimming recreationally in the sea I’d still be scared of jellyfish, but when I’m in an open-water race now I’ve got so much adrenaline and stuff, I don’t really think about it.”
Tokyo Olympics composer resigns after admitting bullying disabled classmates
Keigo Oyamada, Tokyo Olympics composer, has resigned after admitting to bulling disabled classmates.
The Japanese musician, better known as Cornelius, was set to play at the opening ceremony.
The controversy came after magazine interviews from the mid-1990s surfaced, in which he appeared to boast about the incidents.
“I sincerely accept the opinions and advice I have received, express my gratitude, and will keep them in mind for my future actions and thoughts,” he said on social media. “I apologise from the bottom of my heart.”
Netherlands international Sherida Spitse has had to withdraw from the Olympic Games after suffering a knee injury during training on Monday in a major setback to Dutch hopes of gold in the women’s football tournament.
The 31-year-old midfielder, who has a record 188 caps for the national team, is an integral part of the Dutch side, who are European champions and were Women’s World Cup runners-up in 2019, and are among the medal favourites in Japan.
“And suddenly my big dream is shattered. There are few words that can describe how unbelievably painful this hurts,” Spitse told Dutch media on Tuesday after a tackle in training resulted in torn ligaments.
“I always give 100%, also in duels in training. This was just bad luck. It really sucks, for me and for the team.”
Dutch coach Sarina Wiegman, whose team go up against Zambia in Miyagi on Wednesday in their opening Group F encounter, had sympathy for Spitse at Tuesday’s pre-match news conference.
“Her whole life is focused on football and this tournament. That is painful for her, but also for the team. She is a very important player for us, both on and off the field,” said Wiegman.
After the rest of the squad were told Spitse had to go home, tears flowed. “This has a huge impact on the team. But at the same time everyone realises that we have a goal here. We can deal with this, we have dealt with setbacks before,” Wiegman added.
Joelle Smits of VfL Wolfsburg will replace Spitse. She was on a standby list and already training with the squad.
‘Fully vaccinated’ U.S. women’s Samuelson out due to Covid-19
Women’s 3×3 basketball player Katie Lou Samuelson said she was devastated after being forced to pull out of the Olympics due to a positive COVID-19 test, despite being fully vaccinated.
USA Basketball said on Monday that Samuelson was placed under their health and safety protocols at the weekend, with Jackie Young taking her place in the squad alongside Stefanie Dolson, Allisha Gray and Kelsey Plum.
“I am devastated to share that after getting sick with COVID-19, I will not be able to go and compete in Tokyo,” she wrote on Instagram.
“Competing in the Olympics has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl and I hope someday soon, I can come back to realize that dream. I am especially heartbroken as I am fully vaccinated and took every precaution.”
3×3 basketball is making its Olympic debut in Tokyo. The three-a-side event runs from July 24-28.