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Tokyo Olympics Daily: Japan gets into the Olympic spirit

Japan turns to the Game when it gets its first gold

Judoka Naohisa Takato won Japan’s first gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, bringing early glory to the host country that organizers hope will stoke wider enthusiasm for the Games.

Although no fans were present to witness the historic moment, commentators from public broadcaster NHK cried as they described the moment when Takato secured a ippon against Yang Yung Wei of Chinese Taipei to win the match.

“I’m glad I was able to help the Japanese team win their first gold medal,” Takato said after winning the men’s under 60kg category.

This was followed by Japan’s first win with two more golds on Sunday: Yui Ohashi took the women’s 400 meter individual gold in swimming and Yuto Horigome took home her first Olympic gold medal in the sport. men’s street skaters.

During the Olympics, opinion polls suggested that the majority of the Japanese public opposed hosting the Games during the pandemic. But on Saturday’s first day of action, the International Olympic Committee reported that 69.4 million people, representing about half of Japan’s population, watched at least part of the Games on television.

Japan’s Yuto Horigome added another skateboarding gold medal for Japan, who made their Olympic debut this year © AFP via Getty Images

Within the IOC, there has long been a belief that the early successes of the competition will bring the Japanese audience to the world’s largest sporting event to be held in their territory, despite the crisis. community health.

Judo is the event where quiet confidence is built. The matches take place at dear Nippon Budokan, built for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics when the sport made its debut at the Olympics. Japan currently has 40 gold, 20 silver and 26 bronze medals in the sport, leading the all-time medal tally.

There was even disappointment when Kosovo’s Distria Krasniqi beat Tonaki Funa of Japan in the women’s under 48kg final on Saturday, despite the former being the world number one and favorite.

Naoki Ogata, a Japanese official of the International Judo Federation, had high expectations ahead of the competition: “Without a doubt, we want gold medals in all weight classes.”

Public enthusiasm was also captured during Saturday’s men’s road cycling race, where masked men ignored official advice and lined up along the 234-kilometer route, starting from Tokyo, to catch a glimpse of the cyclists.

Similar scenes are expected during the women’s road race, which ends this afternoon at the Fuji International Expressway, where thousands of fans will be able to watch from the stands. The stadium spectator ban does not extend outside of Tokyo.

But there are many dissenting voices. The image of Yasuhiro Yamashita, president of the Japanese Olympic Committee, not wearing a mask while talking to judo competition officials caused a local stir.

Takeshi Kitano, a comedian turned director known for films like Brother other Fireworks, delivered a rare scathing review of the well-received opening ceremony in a Sunday TV show.

“It was great, I slept most of it. Give us our money back,” he said, predicting that people will look back at the 2020 Olympics and realize “how dumbfounded Japan was”.

Reflex

Cate Campbell of Australia competes in the women's 4x100 meters relay at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Team Australia won the women’s 4x100m relay for the third time in a row and set their first world record at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics © Getty Images

  • The Australian women’s 4x100m relay team set their first new world record at the Tokyo Games, winning gold with a time of 3:29.69. The team finished three seconds ahead of Canada, which barely overtook the United States to win the silver medal. Also in the pool event, American swimmer Chase Kalisz won bronze in the men’s 400 meters individual time with a time of 4:09.42.

  • The Japan Meteorological Agency predicts that a typhoon could make landfall in or around Tokyo on Tuesday, which has disrupted some sports schedules. Typhoon Nepartak formed southeast of Honshu, Japan’s main island, on Friday. Olympic organizers said they were monitoring the storm and the possibility of the event being postponed further.

Jade Jones of the United Kingdom, right, and Kimia Alizadeh Zenoorin of the Olympic Refugee Team compete in the women's under 57 kg taekwondo event.

Britain’s Jade Jones, right, won taekwondo gold at the 2012 London Olympics and Rio de Janeiro 2016. But he was unable to defend his title against Kimia Alizadeh Zenoorin of the Olympic refugee team, left © AFP via Getty Images

  • British Jade Jones, a two-time Olympic taekwondo champion, was eliminated in the round of 16 in the women’s under 57 kg category. The result was a significant surprise for the world number one, defeated by Kimia Alizadeh Zenoorin, who was born in Iran and represented the Olympic refugee team. Jones is expected to win Team GB’s first gold medal in Tokyo.

  • Ashleigh Barty of Australia was defeated in the first round of the women’s singles tennis tournament. The world number one, who made it to the Olympics after winning at Wimbledon this month, fell dramatically to Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo. In the south, England’s Andy Murray has announced that he will be withdrawing from the singles tournament to focus on doubles, alongside Joe Salisbury. Murray said he was advised against participating in both events due to the quadriceps strain.

  • The IOC announced 10 new cases of Covid-19 at the Olympics on Sunday, bringing the total revealed to 132. Among them was Dutch rowing coach Josy Verdonkschot, who has been quarantined for 10 years. day.

On the podium

Ahmed Hafnaoui of Tunisia poses with his gold medal after winning the men's 400m freestyle.

Ahmed Hafnaoui of Tunisia beat Jack McLoughlin of Australia and Kieran Smith of the US to win Tunisia’s first Olympic gold medal in swimming © AP

Potential winners have perfect uniforms prepared by their national Olympic associations to ensure they look good during the medal ceremony. But that doesn’t seem to be the case for Ahmed Hafnaoui of Tunisia, whose victory in the men’s 400m freestyle was his country’s first gold medal in swimming.

It was an amazing surprise. Hafnaoui, the second Tunisian to reach the Olympic swimming final, started in the outer lane. But he swam 3 seconds faster than his personal best in the playoffs to win in a time of 3:43.36. On the podium, he was wearing a casual gray training shirt. However, all attention was focused on the medal hanging from his neck.

Click this for the FT’s “alternative medal table”, ranking countries not only based on number of medals but also on their performance against economic and geopolitical factors.

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The Tokyo Olympics Daily is written by the team behind Tick Weekly Business Sports Newsletter, with contributions from the FT Tokyo office. Sign up on the scoreboard this to get it in your inbox every Saturday morning.

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