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Hend Zaza - the youngest athlete at the Tokyo Games
When I was 12 the height of my sporting success was scoring a goal in park football (the old jumpers for goalposts kind) it wasn’t taking part in the Olympics.
But that’s what Hend Zaza has just done. The 12-year-old was Syria’s flag bearer in the opening ceremony and has become the fifth youngest Olympian in history - the youngest being 10-year-old gymnast Dimitrios Loundras back in 1896.
Her Games are already over, however, as she’s lost 4-0 to Austria’s Lui Jia who in the women’s table tennis. Whatever the result, though, it was remarkable that at that age she even got to compete.
Jennifer McIntosh is proud of her sister, Seonaid
Jennifer competed at both the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics and was supporting her sis from afar.
Well that was an emotional rollercoaster! 12th place for Mini Mac in her first Olympic Games, and still another one to go! ❤️
— Jen McIntosh OLY (@jenmcintosh_oly) July 24, 2021
More Covid chaos - beach volleyball affected
The very first match of the Olympic beach volleyball tournament has been cancelled because a Czech player has tested positive for Covid-19.
Marketa Slukova tested positive earlier this week, knocking her and partner Barbora Hermannova out of the Tokyo Games.
The Czechs were supposed to be playing a team from the host country that would have been making its Olympic debut. Instead, the Japanese pair of Megumi Murakami and Miki Ishii earned the victory by default.
Slukova is one of at least three members of the Czech team who have tested positive since their arrival in Japan, including men's beach volleyball player Ondrej Perusic.
The team has said it's investigating if the outbreak of COVID-19 is linked to its charter flight to Tokyo.
No luck for Seonaid McIntosh in the 10m air rifle
By Ben Bloom
Billed as Britain’s first potential medalist at these Tokyo Games, shooter Seonaid McIntosh’s podium quest ended before it had properly begun when she narrowly failed to qualify for the 10m air rifle final on Saturday.
McIntosh had talked down her chances ahead of the competition, insisting it was “not her best event”, having earned world, European and Commonwealth titles in the 50m rifle three positions which she contests later in the week. This warm-up event was more of an outside shot to see if she could earn a bonus medal, but a slow start meant she was always playing catch-up to make the top eight who qualify for the final. A poor shot with the last of her 60 efforts extinguished those hopes and meant she finished in 12th.
McIntosh is following in the footsteps of her sister Jennifer, who competed at both the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics, while both her parents were shooters at the Commonwealth Games.
Seonaid McIntosh is a British gold medal hope
She's currently in the heats of the women's 10m air rifle. Eight go through to the final which starts at 2.45am and the Scottish sharpshooter is currently in that vital eighth spot with one round to go. Fingers crossed...
Glover and Swann finish in third
They came through strongly in the last 250m but while they are through to the semi-finals they have a fair bit to think about. That heat was also three seconds slower than the first heat.
There was an expectation that they would perform well but from halfway were behind both the Australians and Russian pairs.
"They are experienced and will learn from this" - James Cracknell says on BBC comms.
Glover and Swann now back in third
The Australians lead with the Russian pair now half a length up on the British duo. Glover is going to have to rely on her mental strength and bring Swann through. 500m to go - they would have been expected to lead this race at this point.
"It's not great for Great Britain - but will learn from this" says James Cracknell on BBC comms.
Glover and Swann are looking a lot better...
...than they did in the Europeans earlier this year. They're comfortable in second just behind the Australians at the halfway point.
Glover and Swann have huge confidence...
...in themselves and are third after 250m. It's a fine, solid start. Alongside them are the Australian and Russian pairs with the Chinese duo well back in fourth.
Glover and Swann are off!
They're in Lane 2 - it should be a formality with three from four going through.
Polly Swann searching for fairy tale finish.
Polly Swann is intent on supplying a fairy tale finish to her improbable reunion with Helen Glover as the duo prepare to return to Olympic action in the women's pair heats at the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo on Saturday.
In the after-glow of Rio 2016 the chances of the duo reprising the relationship that had swept them to a world title in 2013 appeared non-existent as Glover retired to start a family and Swann elected to take time away from the sport to finish her medical degree.
But an unlikely series of events, underpinned by the pair's mutual conviction that they were not done with the Olympic arena, would ultimately bring them back together in the women's pair where they will be among the favourites as they begin their quest for gold.
Swann said: "To be here and rowing with Helen is almost a fairy tale. Just one more thing would be winning the gold medal at the end.
"It will be incredibly hard. Our competitors are unbelievable athletes. Our event is stacked but there is just something special about our team. We are getting better every day and with the determination and passion that we have got, anything is possible."
Women's coxless pairs heats are under way
Glover and Swann are in the second heat.
Matthew Pinsent on BBC speaks...
On the worry that storm will hit...
"There's no sign of that typhoon yet."
On what actual conditions are like on the Sea Forest Waterway....
"It's breezy and hot and it's still early in the morning. It's going to be hot and humid for those rowing today."
Two remarkable women - Helen Glover and Polly Swann go in 20 minutes
'I hope my journey can help inspire people and show that having children should not mean an end to something that they are passionate about’
That's what returning hero Glover told our very own Pippa Field in January. The two-time gold medalist has become the first first British rower to compete at the Olympics after having children. I reckon that whatever happens in Tokyo the 35 year old has already succeeded in inspiring a host of us. Truly remarkable.
Polly Swann, too, has also proved herself to be inspiring aside from what transpires in the Japan capital. The 2016 silver medallist took time out of the sport in 2020 to work as a junior doctor for the NHS during the pandemic.
A bit more on Finn Florijn - the Dutch rowers who's tested positive for Covid
Dutch rower Finn Florijn Olympic dream was shattered after the young rower tested positive for Covid-19 on Friday after competing in the men's single sculls race.
The 21-year-old had finished in fourth in the sixth heat of the men's single sculls race earlier on Friday, which was not enough to progress to the quarter-finals as only the top three qualify directly.
"I wasn't completely satisfied with my race, but I was hopeful to do better in the rematch," said Florijn, whose father was also an Olympic rower.
"Now it's over in an instant. I really can't say much more about it."
Florijn was scheduled to take part in the repechage race on Saturday, which gives competitors another chance to qualify. But he has gone into quarantine and will no longer participate in the Games.
His case comes after a staff member of the Dutch rowing team, as well as two other Dutch athletes - taekwondo competitor Reshmie Oogink and skateboarder Candy Jacobs - also tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week.
Pieter van den Hoogenband, chef de mission of the Dutch Olympic delegation, said they were doing everything to avoid positive COVID-19 tests.
"Unfortunately, a new infection. It's obvious that we don't have any words for this," Van den Hoogenband said in a statement.
"A young athlete who was making his Olympic debut here and has to put an end to it immediately."
The infected athletes and staff member were all on the same flight that took Dutch athletes to Tokyo on July 17, TeamNL said in the statement, adding that chances of new infections from that flight had decreased considerably as a week has passed since the flight.
Before testing positive on Friday, Florijn had been staying in a room by himself in the Olympic village, it added.
Max Whitlock's biggest fan
The British gymnast gets his Games under way in the artistic gymnastics qualification - I'm thinking his daughter Willow will be in bed and fast asleep when that starts - but who knows...
The best little girlie in the world 😊 x pic.twitter.com/WMHjBY4ZSI
— Max Whitlock MBE (@maxwhitlock1) July 23, 2021
BBC coverage on the main channel is...
...highlights of the Opening Ceremony (I think you can OD on Opening Ceremonies, never a good thing, you might start to really believe in all the 'sanctity of the Games' guff...) BUT events have started, rowing being one of them. On the coolly named Sea Forest Waterway the rowers will stroke their way to hopeful victory on the course located in the Bay of Tokyo. There's quite a good vista of the mega city from the venue.
So the first GB interest to keep you up and out of bed is...
Helen Glover and Polly Swann go in the heats of the Women's coxless pair in the next hour.
Glover, as I am sure you all know, won gold in London and Rio and then quit to have a family before returning to the rowing lakes of the world in a remarkable comeback that she's hopes becomes a golden one in Tokyo.
One of Britain's greatest Olympians spoke to our very own Pippa Field ahead of these Games.
'Attempting a sporting comeback is a decision that has surprised everyone, not least her husband. Just months after giving birth to the twins – born in January 2020 eight weeks before the national lockdown – Glover privately shared with him her wish to turn a daydream into reality. Ever since, it has been full steam ahead.'
Read up on this remarkable athlete here - Helen Glover exclusive interview: 'Don't call me a supermum'
As if Covid wasn't enough
There are warnings of a possible tropical storm that could hit the Japan capital next week...
The Tokyo Olympics, already struggling with an outbreak of Covid-19 among athletes, may face another kind of disaster next week -- a tropical storm.
Tropical Storm Nepartak has formed southeast of Japan and could make landfall north of Tokyo early next week with winds of at least 46 miles (74 kilometres) per hour on US wind scales, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, a US Navy and Air Force forecasting operation in Hawaii.
“That is really all they need,” said Jim Rouiller, lead meteorologist with the Energy Weather Group. “A tropical storm coming right toward Tokyo.”
Tokyo is grappling with a surge of coronavirus cases that prompted the government to declare a fourth state of emergency in the capital earlier this month. At least 110 infections linked to the Games have been reported. While the number of cases is small compared to the total number of athletes and staff, it has added to public concern about the safety of the events.Nepartak was about 945 miles southeast of Yokosuka, Japan, and is moving northeastward, the Joint Typhoon Center said. There are currently no warnings or watches issued in Japan.
Unfortunately this is the Covid Games and...
...there's been another positive case in the village.
Dutch rower Finn Florijn tested positive for the coronavirus. The Royal Dutch Rowing Federation (KNRB) said in a Twitter post.
The 21-year-old Florijn, who was scheduled to take part in a men's single sculls repechage race on Saturday, has gone into quarantine and will no longer participate in the tournament, the KNRB said.
Here's the news for those of you who can read Dutch...
Finn Florijn is positief getest en in quarantaine gegaan. De skiffeur kwam vrijdag nog uit in de heats van de skiff en zou zaterdag een herkansing varen, maar kan zijn toernooi niet vervolgen.
Lees meer via: https://t.co/mhPVMHLoLB Foto: @MerijnSoeters pic.twitter.com/eJFKOzyZIK
— KNRB (@Roeibond) July 23, 2021
So what did you make of the (understandably) understated opening ceremony?
Was it the drone display (always impressed that they never crash into each other...), the different sporting pictograms coming to life, which I though was a simple, inspired idea (who needs lots of cash to make these things fun and engaging (bar Beijing...)?) or perhaps it was the return of the shirtless Tongan flagbearer, Pita Taufatofua?
— Team GB (@TeamGB) July 23, 2021
The flame has been lit - let the Games begin
Japan's global superstar Naomi Osaka on Friday lit the Olympic cauldron to mark the start of Tokyo 2020, in an opening ceremony shorn of glitz and overshadowed by a pandemic but defined by hope, tradition and gestures of diversity.
Postponed by a year due to the coronavirus, the Games are being held without spectators in a city under a Covic-induced state of emergency, as many other parts of the globe also still struggle with a resurgence of cases.
Athletes, the vast majority wearing masks, paraded through an eerily silent National Stadium where flagbearers for the first time were both men and women and the Canadian delegation marched with rainbow badges on their uniforms in support of the LGBTQ+ community.
In its journey through the stadium, the torch was passed from Olympic champions to baseball legends - one born in Taiwan - a doctor and a nurse, a Paralympian, and children from parts of Japan hit badly by the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011.
It was finally handed to Osaka, the 23-year-old four-time tennis grand slam champion whose background as the daughter of a Haitian man and Japanese woman reflects the changes and slowly growing diversity coming to a once ethnically homogeneous country.
"Undoubtedly the greatest athletic achievement and honor I will ever have in my life," Osaka wrote in a tweet. "I have no words to describe the feelings I have right now but I do know I am currently filled with gratefulness and thankfulness."
Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, said in his opening speech addressing the athletes: "The lesson we learned is we need more solidarity - more solidarity among societies, and solidarity within societies."
But the shift towards greater inclusiveness has not come without stumbles. Tokyo 2020 has been hit by a string of scandals, including the exit of senior officials over derogatory comments about women, Holocaust jokes and bullying.
Normally a star-studded display teeming with celebrities, the ceremony was low-key, with fewer than 1,000 people in attendance, strict social distancing rules and signs calling on spectators to "be quiet around the venue."
Opening with videos showing empty streets around the world and an athlete training alone in darkness, it also included drones hovering over Tokyo's National Stadium in the shape of the Olympic logo morphing into planet earth and a global performance via videolink of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's "Imagine".
"With the world in a tough situation because of the coronavirus pandemic, I would like to pay my respect and express my gratitude to medical workers and all those who are working hard every day to overcome the difficulties," said local organising committee President Seiko Hashimoto.
The ceremony climaxed with a fusion of traditional kabuki theatre - with its elaborate makeup and costumes - and a jazz piano improvisation, on a stage topped with the cauldron for the Olympic flame.
At the parade, most countries were represented by both male and female flagbearers in an Olympic first, but not everybody stuck to pandemic protocols. In an awkward contrast to most other athletes, teams from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan and Pakistan's flagbearers paraded maskless.
The opening also featured fireworks in indigo and white, the colours of the Tokyo 2020 emblem, and gave a nod to Japanese tradition represented by giant wooden Olympic rings linked to the 1964 Games, which the city also hosted.
Some delegations enlivened the mood. Uganda, wearing bright traditional costumes, did a few measures of a dance, while Argentine athletes jumped up and down on entering.
A moment of silence was held "for all those family and friends we have lost," especially to COVID-19. The Israeli athletes slain at the 1972 Munich Games were also remembered.
Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Bach, both masked, cheered on the athletes after bowing to each other before sitting down.
"Today is a moment of hope. Yes, it is very different from what all of us imagined. But finally we are all here together," said Bach.
Unlike his grandfather who opened the 1964 Games with a Japanese word that means "congratulations," Naruhito opted for a more neutral word in Japanese that is closer to "commemorate".
The ceremony was marked by major absences, including former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who wooed the Games to Tokyo. Top sponsors also stayed away, highlighting strong opposition to the event within COVID-fatigued Japan.
Only a third of Japanese have had even one dose of vaccines, prompting worries the Games could become a super-spreader event. More than 100 people involved with the Olympics have already tested positive.
Hundreds of people protested around the venue, and a recent poll showed 55% of respondents saying they opposed the event going ahead, with 68% expressing doubt about the ability of Olympic organisers to control coronavirus infections.
But not everyone was opposed.
"It's a difficult time. But when I think about the feelings of those athletes who have been prepared for this competition, I really want the Games to be held even without spectators," said 54-year-old Tokyo resident Hideko Kobori, who watched the opening ceremony with her husband and three children at home.