- Japan defeat Australia in opening softball game
- WHO supports the Games to demonstrate what can be achieved
- Spectators excluded from events, including the opening ceremony on Friday
- Brisbane set to be approved as host for 2032 Games
FUKUSHIMA / TOKYO, July 21 (Reuters) – The Japanese women’s softball team gave the hosts a winning start at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on Wednesday, kicking off a postponed Games in the event of a pandemic which, according to the World Organization for the health, may be “a celebration of hope” even as COVID-19 cases increase.
The Olympics and Japanese officials have moved forward with the sporting spectacle despite opposition in the country to host more than 11,000 athletes, staff and media – dozens of whom have already tested positive for COVID-19 .
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the Games should move forward to show the world what can be achieved with the right plan and the right measures.
“May the rays of hope of this land light up a new dawn for a healthy, safer and more just world,” he said, holding up an Olympic Games torch as he addressed the members of the Committee. international Olympic in the Japanese capital. “It is my sincere hope that the Tokyo Games are successful.” Read more
Spectators have been banned and restrictions have been imposed in and around Tokyo, where COVID-19 infections are on the rise, in a bid to minimize health risks to residents and visitors.
Japan, with around 34% of the population having received at least one dose of the vaccine, feared the Olympics would become a big-ticket event.
In a recent Asahi newspaper poll, 68% of those polled expressed doubts about the ability of Olympic organizers to control coronavirus infections, with 55% saying they were against continuing the Games.
The official opening ceremony for the Games takes place on Friday and is expected to be a scaled-down and sobering performance, according to Marco Balich, senior advisor to the Tokyo Ceremonies Executive Producer. Read more
As with the Opening Ceremony, the gold medal-contending women’s softball match between Japan and Australia went without spectators, amid the buzzing cicadas and polite applause of a few hundred employees at a stadium in Fukushima, devastated by the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster. .
Players standing along the benches in the scorching sun – 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) in the middle of the game – yelled at batters all morning, making the game feel like Little League.
The match ended after five innings due to a leniency rule as a two-run Japanese home trio broke through the fence, as the United States defeated Italy 2-0 and Canada beat Mexico. Read more
The first of Wednesday’s six women’s football games was also underway.
Coronavirus infections continued to wreak havoc among participants, however, with at least seven more positive cases bringing the total to over 75.
Dutch skater Candy Jacobs has confirmed she has tested positive for COVID-19 and is withdrawing from the Games, along with a Chilean taekwondo competitor.
â€œI’m going to need some time to let my broken heart heal and get over it,â€ Jacobs wrote on his Instagram account.
Cases are on the rise in Tokyo, and Japanese media reported that government adviser Shigeru Omi said daily COVID-19 infections in Tokyo could reach a record 3,000 in the first week of August, that is, more than double their recent peak.
Tokyo on Wednesday reported 1,832 new cases in the capital, the highest figure so far for the day of the week and up 683 from the previous week.
The rise in infections may add to the strain on Japan’s already strained medical system.
Highlighting the reduced Games due to the pandemic, government spokesman Katsunobu Kato said Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga would only meet around 15 world leaders on the sidelines of the Olympics, up from 120 previously.
In the sky over Tokyo, Japanese pilots drew the five Olympic rings during a training flight for Friday’s Opening Ceremony, recreating a stunt similar to the 1964 Tokyo Games, which took place to mark the country’s recovery after WWII. Read more
Olympic officials are expected to confirm preferred bidder Brisbane as host of the 2032 Summer Games later Wednesday, the third time Australia has hosted the sporting extravagance. Read more
Reporting by Paresh Dave and Karolos Grohmann; Additional reporting and writing by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Hugh Lawson
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