After a year-long delay, the Tokyo Olympics is finally here with the Olympic Ceremony set to take place on Friday.
The competition had been due to take place last summer but was pushed back by 12 months due to the outbreak of coronavirus.
The Games will be like none other seen in the past, with fans prohibited from the venues with Tokyo under a fourth state of emergency, while head of the organising committee Toshiro Muto has still not ruled out a last-minute cancellation.
Nonetheless, with fans absent it’s the athletes that will take centre stage. And though the Opening Ceremony is not until Friday, the action has already started with a number of disciplines getting underway on Wednesday, including Team GB‘s women’s football team.
With the Olympics taking place in Japan, a large proportion of the action will take place between midnight and 3pm BST for UK viewers.
But not to worry, as Sportsmail will keep you up-to-date with all the latest news and updates right through until the closing ceremony on August 8.
Ona Carbonell, 31, captain of Spain’s synchronised swimming team, said she was forced to leave 11-month-old son Kai at home after Tokyo Olympics bosses refused to let him travel with her to the Games. Carbonell, a strong advocate of breastfeeding since giving birth in August last year, said she wanted to continue feeding her son during the competition but strict Covid rules meant Kai was unable to enter the Athletes’ Village with her. Instead, he would have been forced to stay at a hotel with father Pablo with Carbonell visiting them to feed – breaching the Covid-secure athlete’s bubble and potentially exposing her teammates to infection. In the end, Carbonell said she decided it was not worth the risk and left Kai at home – but urged other athletes to help bring attention to an issue ‘which is not yet normalized but should be.’
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW by DAVID COVERDALE: Two brothers from West Yorkshire competing together at the same Olympics. Now where have we heard that one before? The sibling success of Leeds triathletes Alistair and Jonny Brownlee (bottom inset) has been one of the best British stories to come out of the last two Games. But with Jonny going it alone in Tokyo, the attention turns from the Brownlee brothers to the Litchfield lads – and Pontefract swimmers Max (left in main image) and Joe (right in main image) know they have a lot to live up to.
SIR ANDY MURRAY: The Olympics mean a huge amount to me and it’s a massive honour to be able to compete at a fourth Games in Tokyo. Leading Team GB at the opening ceremony in Rio was one of the highlights of my career and winning in 2012 on home ground was an incredible moment. Going to a second Olympics as defending champion is exciting and I am looking forward to the challenge. The Games are the biggest competition in the world and as athletes we train hard for moments like this.
The US and Team GB women’s football teams were among those to take the knee ahead of their opening matches in the Olympics. All 22 players took part in the gesture prior to kick-off between four-time Olympic champions the US and Sweden in Tokyo, an hour after Team GB and Chile did likewise in Sapporo. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently relaxed the rules for protests at the Games, softening a long-standing ban on political protests at the global sporting event.
TEAM GB WOMEN 2-0 CHILE WOMEN – MIKE KEEGAN IN SAPPORO: Team GB has got talent. They knew it when they performed a variety show for kicks in the team hotel and they know it now after they opened their Olympic Games campaign with a comprehensive victory over Chile. Debuts are never easy. A training camp held in a Covid environment is not the norm and neither is a match before no fans in a stifling Sapporo dome. As captain Steph Houghton joked, smuggling a coffee into the camp has been an achievement on this most challenging of trips. To underline the point, on a press call to preview this match, manager Hege Riise was unceremoniously moved out of a café by a member of staff while speaking to journalists. But Riise, who herself won a gold medal with her native Norway in 2000, has high hopes for this group. And while they could have been more composed, more clinical, this was nothing other than a successful start. A brace of smart finishes from the lethal Ellen White, one in either half, did the trick. In reality, a dominant performance should have resulted in a wider margin.
Fernanda Aguirre, a Chilean taekwondo fighter, (left) and Candy Jacobs, a Dutch skateboarder (right), are the first athletes forced to quit the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for Covid. Aguirre tested positive at Tokyo airport after arriving in the country from a training camp in Uzbekistan meaning she cannot compete in her event on Sunday, while Jacobs returned a positive test at Athletes’ Village and will miss her event on Monday. Three other athletes – two South African footballers and a Czech volleyball player – have also tested positive, but could technically compete once they have ended 10 days of isolation. It came as WHO chief Dr Tedros (top inset) said achieving zero Covid infections at the game was never a realistic prospect, even as organisers insist the showpiece event – which is due to kick off on Friday (main stadium, bottom inset) – will be safe.
The Team GB delegation at the Opening Ceremony will only number around 30 – with concerned athletes choosing not to attend the showpiece event amid concerns over Covid-19. The development comes as Chilean taekwondo player Fernanda Aguirre and Dutch skateboarder Candy Jacobs were ruled out of the Games after testing positive for Covid-19. A record low turnout will walk behind the union flag on Friday night, at a show which will be broadcast to millions around the world. Officials had hoped around 50 athletes would take part, which would still represent a fraction of the usual 200 in non-pandemic times.