An Olympics like no different – Tokyo preview

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The Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony takes place on the Olympic Stadium on Friday (12:00 BST)
Venue: Olympic Stadium, Tokyo Date: Friday, 23 July Begins: 12:00 BST
Protection: Watch stay on BBC One, BBC iPlayer and on-line; Hear on BBC Radio 5 Dwell; stay textual content on BBC Sport web site and app.

The Tokyo Olympic Video games are upon us. They appear and feel completely different to every other Video games of occasions passed by, however they’re right here. Eventually.

With an sudden extra 12 months of preparation beneath their belts, greater than 11,300 athletes from 207 international locations will compete over the subsequent couple of weeks, all vying to get their arms on the medal they’ve labored so lengthy for.

When the Video games had been postponed in March 2020, organisers mentioned the Olympic flame “may turn into the sunshine on the finish of the tunnel”. With the Covid-19 pandemic nonetheless raging worldwide, that metaphorical tunnel remains to be being traversed, however Friday’s opening ceremony affords a glimmer of that mild.

“I feel it will likely be a second of pleasure and reduction when getting into the stadium, a second of pleasure specifically for the athletes as a result of I understand how a lot they’re eager for this second,” mentioned Worldwide Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.

“Then they’ll lastly be there, they’ll get pleasure from this second beneath very particular circumstances.”

An Olympics in a pandemic

Masks, quarantine, saliva checks. Make no mistake, these are an Olympics like no different.

With Tokyo in a state of emergency all through the Olympics after a spike in Covid-19 infections, the Video games have come beneath big criticism from the Japanese public, nearly all of whom have mentioned they need the Olympics to be cancelled or postponed once more.

However security is paramount for the organisers, and big precautions are being taken, together with holding the Video games behind closed doorways with no followers, from both Japan or abroad, being permitted inside venues.

As for the athletes, they’re beneath strict restrictions too. They need to put on a face masks always – besides when consuming, consuming, coaching, competing or sleeping – and minimise bodily interplay with others, and are being examined for Covid-19 daily.

Workforce GB’s Adam Peaty is seeking to defend his 100m breaststroke Olympic title

However sadly the virus has affected the Video games already, earlier than they’ve formally began.

On Thursday, 12 new instances of Covid-19 had been reported, bringing the overall of instances associated to Video games personnel to 87. There have been eight optimistic instances amongst athletes.

Six Workforce GB athletes have needed to isolate of their rooms after being recognized as shut contacts of somebody on their flight who later examined optimistic for Covid-19.

US tennis participant Coco Gauff needed to pull out of her debut Video games after testing optimistic earlier than arriving in Tokyo, whereas Workforce GB’s Dan Evans and Johanna Konta and world primary shooter Amber Hill withdrew for a similar cause.

What’s new?

There will probably be a document 339 medal occasions held throughout 33 sports activities, with 5 new sports activities – and 34 new occasions in whole – added to the Tokyo 2020 programme by the IOC. Some 48.8% of athletes competing on the Tokyo Olympics are ladies – a document determine.

The 5 new sports activities are karate, skateboarding, sport climbing, baseball/softball and browsing. Baseball and softball technically aren’t ‘new’ sports activities on the Olympic programme, however they have not been contested at a Video games since Beijing 2008.

New occasions have been launched to the boxing, canoe slalom, canoe dash, biking, rowing and swimming programmes, whereas there are new mixed-gender occasions together with a 4x100m combined medley relay in swimming and a combined relay in triathlon.

These sports activities have been launched in a bid to draw youthful audiences and mirror “the pattern of urbanisation of sport”.

IOC president Bach mentioned: “We need to take sport to the youth. With the various choices that younger individuals have, we can’t count on anymore that they’ll come robotically to us. Now we have to go to them.”

This 12 months’s Video games are additionally doing their bit for sustainability. The medals are created from recycled cell phones, whereas the Olympic torch was created from aluminium waste from momentary housing constructed within the aftermath of the 2011 Nice East Japan Earthquake.

Solely eight new competitors venues have been constructed from scratch, whereas a lot of the power powering Tokyo 2020 comes from renewable sources.

In whole, the Video games will price £11.5bn, up 22% due to the one-year delay.

British medal expectations

For the primary time in 125 years, Workforce GB have chosen more female athletes than male to compete in an Olympics, with 201 of the 376 athletes initially chosen being ladies. There will probably be British illustration in 26 of the 33 Olympic sports activities in Tokyo.

Workforce GB received 65 medals at London 2012, growing to 67 in Rio 4 years later. In Tokyo, UK Sport says it hopes between 45 and 70 medals will probably be received.

This has decreased from the ambition of between 54 and 92 medals that was set in 2018, considering the “extraordinary circumstances” offered to athletes and workers within the build-up to the Video games.

However who will win these medals?

Swimmer Adam Peaty (100m breaststroke), gymnast Max Whitlock (pommel horse) and taekwondo star Jade Jones are tipped to retain their gold medals from Rio, with Jones – the 57kg winner in London and Rio – bidding to turn into the primary British feminine athlete to win gold at three successive Olympic Video games.

Monitor cyclists Jason and Laura Kenny each have the prospect to turn into GB’s most profitable Olympian – Jason is at present tied for the document with Sir Chris Hoy on six golds, whereas Laura is already Britain’s most profitable feminine Olympian with 4 golds.

Sprinter Dina Asher-Smith is the face of the Video games for Workforce GB and has medal possibilities within the 100m and 200m, whereas skateboarder Sky Brown, GB’s youngest Olympian at simply 13, is a medal contender within the ladies’s park occasion.

Sailor Hannah Mills and rower Mohamed Sbihi will lead Team GB into Friday’s opening ceremony, with Tokyo being the primary Olympics at which nations can choose two flag bearers in a bid to extend gender equality.

World stars to look at

Simone Biles training in front of Olympic rings
US gymnast Simone Biles, 24, has 5 Olympic medals, together with 4 gold

American gymnast Simone Biles was one of many standout stars in Rio 5 years in the past.

The 24-year-old received 4 golds and one bronze at her debut Video games and is ready to compete in all 5 occasions once more. If she defends her all-around title she could be the primary Olympic gymnast to take action since 1968.

Two extra People are anticipated to dominate within the swimming pool. Caeleb Dressel has ‘simply’ the 2 Olympic golds to this point however the 24-year-old is favorite to win as much as six gold medals in Tokyo, whereas Katie Ledecky, who received 4 golds in Rio so as to add to her one from London 2012, is predicted to compete in as much as six occasions.

Within the Olympic Stadium, look out for Jamaica’s six-time Olympic medal-winning sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in addition to Swedish pole vaulter Armand Duplantis.

Serbia’s tennis world primary Novak Djokovic continues his pursuit of a Golden Grand Slam, having received the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon titles this 12 months, and needing the Olympic and US Open titles to finish the feat.

However arguably one of the crucial anticipated performances of the Tokyo Video games will come from 43-year-old transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard.

New Zealand’s Hubbard, who broke male nationwide data as a junior, would be the first trans athlete to compete on the Olympics in a person occasion – the ladies’s 87kg class.

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