TOKYO — The Video games have begun. With a ball.
Michelle Cox, the leadoff hitter for the Australian softball group, took a low pitch from Japan pitcher Yukiko Ueno in an empty stadium in Fukushima on Wednesday within the first aggressive act of the Tokyo Olympics.
The pitch — after a little bit of pregame pageantry that included the introduction of a number of officers and dignitaries — formally kicked off an version of the Video games that was years within the making and one yr delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Two days earlier than the opening ceremony, a half-dozen softball groups and a dozen in soccer had been set to be the primary athletes to take the sector. The host nation Japan and Australia obtained the consideration of going first; their recreation on the Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium was to be adopted by matchups involving the USA and Italy and between Mexico and Canada.
In a while Wednesday, six matches — together with the USA’ opener towards Sweden in Tokyo Stadium, and video games in Rifu and Yokohama — had been to open the ladies’s soccer match.
It’s not unusual for Olympic competitors to start earlier than the opening ceremony, a consequence of a decent schedule and expanded tournaments that may require longer than the Video games’ official 17-day window to finish.
Cox made probably the most of her second within the Olympic highlight: She labored a full depend towards Ueno after which beat out an infield single again to the pitcher.
Ueno, Japan’s starter, had a tough inning. After giving up a single to Cox, she walked a batter and hit the following two with pitches. That allowed Cox to attain the sport’s — and the Video games’ — first run.
TOKYO — Six Polish swimmers had been despatched house from the Olympics this week after the nation’s swimming federation arrived in Japan with too many rivals.
Poland initially chosen 23 swimmers for the Tokyo Video games however needed to trim its listing to 17 primarily based on world swimming’s qualifying guidelines. Because the group had already arrived in Japan, that meant the disqualified swimmers — who had been feted on their departure and had taken the Olympic oath — needed to fly again to Warsaw on Sunday, solely days earlier than the opening ceremony.
One of many swimmers, Alicja Tchorz, expressed outrage on the fiasco in a Facebook post and demanded the resignation of the federation’s management.
“Think about dedicating 5 years of your life and striving for one more begin at a very powerful sporting occasion,” wrote Tchorz, who swam for Poland on the 2012 and 2016 Video games. “Giving up your non-public life and work, sacrificing your loved ones, and many others.”
Her frustrations had been amplified, she stated, upon studying “6 days earlier than the grand finale, it seems that you just had been denied your goals due to the incompetence of third events.”
In an interview after returning to Warsaw, she stated she and her teammates had been planning to file a lawsuit and demanding the elimination of the officers chargeable for the error. “Absolutely the minimal is the resignation of the board,” Tchorz stated. “Any dignity requires it.”
The opposite swimmers knowledgeable they may not compete had been recognized in information reviews and social media posts as Bartosz Piszczorowicz, Aleksandra Polanska, Mateusz Chowaniec, Dominika Kossakowska and Jan Holub.
A video shared on social media by a Polish journalist confirmed the swimmers who had been ordered to return house sharing hugs and saying goodbye to different members of the Polish delegation earlier than their departure last weekend.
In a lengthy statement explaining the error, the president of Poland’s swimming federation, Pawel Slominski, expressed remorse for the error but in addition tried to assign a number of the blame to swimming’s qualifying guidelines and to Poland’s Olympic committee.
“I categorical nice remorse, unhappiness and bitterness concerning the scenario,” Slominski stated within the assertion. “Such a scenario mustn’t happen, and the response of the swimmers, their feelings, the assault on the Polish Swimming Federation is comprehensible to me and justified.”
On Instagram, Chowaniec railed against “the incompetent individuals” main the swimming federation.
“I’m deeply shocked by what occurred and that is an absurd scenario for me that ought to by no means have occurred,” he wrote. “In truth, I hope to get up from this NIGHTMARE ultimately!”
The Mexican nationwide baseball group is in quarantine after two gamers examined optimistic for coronavirus forward of touring to Japan for the Tokyo Olympics, Mexican baseball federation officials announced.
Hector Velazquez and Sammy Solis, each of whom are 32-year-old pitchers, had been examined on Sunday in Mexico Metropolis because the group gathered to start apply and had been asymptomatic and isolating of their resort rooms, the federation stated in a press release. Consequently, nationwide federation officers stated apply on Monday was canceled and the remainder of the group was quarantining in its resort pending outcomes from additional testing.
Over the weekend, gamers and coaches reported to Mexico Metropolis and had begun coaching forward of their departure to Japan. Mexico’s first recreation within the Olympics is scheduled for July 30, towards the Dominican Republic, at Yokohama Baseball Stadium. Solis and Velazquez — each former Main League Baseball gamers — play for a similar group in Mexico’s prime skilled league.
“Honored and excited to announce that I might be representing #TeamMexico on the Olympics in #Tokyo2020!!!!,” Solis said earlier this month, when the Mexican group was introduced. “Being named an Olympian is a lifelong dream! Time to chase that.”
The information was a blow for fifth-ranked Mexico, which had certified for the primary time for the Olympics in baseball, a sport making its return to the Summer time Video games after a 13-year hiatus.
With video games starting on Wednesday and the opening ceremony on Friday, nearly 60 people connected to the Tokyo Games, from athletes inside the Olympic Village to Japanese residents working on the occasions, have examined optimistic. Organizers are struggling to handle public nervousness as many 1000’s extra athletes, coaches and different officers arrive in Japan for the Video games.
The Mexican baseball group was the most recent Olympic group to be disrupted by the virus. The US’ males’s basketball, ladies’s 3×3 basketball and the ladies’s gymnastics groups have needed to reshuffle their rosters after athletes both examined optimistic or entered virus well being and security protocols.
From protests and Covid-related bans on followers, be a part of Occasions journalists for an unique digital occasion as we focus on what this second means for Tokyo 2020. Plus be taught concerning the sports activities new to the Olympics by way of interviews with U.S. surfer Carissa Moore and Czech climber Adam Ondra. Click on the button above to R.S.V.P.
When the primary pitch was thrown in a recreation between Australia and Japan on Wednesday morning, softball followers around the globe celebrated the return of their sport to the Olympic stage after a 13-year absence.
“We ARE again … SOFTBALL is again within the Olympics!” Natasha Watley, a two-time U.S. Olympic softball participant and a gold medalist in 2004, tweeted earlier than the sport. “I’ll be glued to the television for the following week!”
Japan’s recreation towards Australia was the primary contest forward of the opening ceremony and one in every of a number of softball video games and soccer matches scheduled earlier than the official begin. It started at 8 p.m. Jap time on Tuesday, with a recreation between the U.S. and Italy scheduled to observe at 11 p.m. and one between Mexico and Canada set for two a.m. Jap on Wednesday.
The video games might be broadcast on NBC Sports activities. (The video games will happen on Wednesday however will seem on U.S. tv beginning on Tuesday evening due to the 13-hour time distinction.)
Amongst those that watching had been the previous U.S. pitcher and Olympic gold and silver medalist Jennie Finch and her 8-year-old daughter Paisley. It was the primary time her daughter, who additionally performs softball, would see her sport represented on the world’s largest stage.
“I’m so excited for our sport and our recreation and the platform it needs to be again within the Olympics,” Finch stated earlier than the sport, including that she was “excited for the athletes particularly.”
Softball first grew to become an Olympic sport in 1996, and it appeared in every summer season Video games by way of these in 2008 in Beijing, after which it was dropped.
“For it to be taken away, it was like, how can we return 60 years?” Finch recalled considering on the time. “We’ve labored so exhausting to get our sport to the place it’s.”
However starting with the Tokyo Video games, every Olympic host can suggest including sports activities with nationwide enchantment. Softball, together with baseball, each of that are well-liked in Japan, were approved for competition in Tokyo.
For softball, the second is massive: It has a growing global footprint, and within the U.S., it’s a aggressive collegiate sport with no main league house. Final August, softball was the inaugural sport in a new pro league called Athletes Unlimited, however even that season was solely six weeks lengthy.
The U.S. group, which captured three consecutive Olympic gold medals in 1996, 2000 and 2004 and a silver medal on the 2008 Video games after falling to Japan, will make its fifth Olympic look in Tokyo. Cat Osterman, who was on the final two U.S. groups, is on this yr’s roster at age 38.
Nonetheless, there was some dissatisfaction across social media that the sport was being performed on a baseball area reasonably than a softball area, which might be smaller with an infield solely comprised of dust, reasonably than a mixture of dust and grass.
In each the 2004 Athens Video games and the 2008 Beijing Video games, the host cities constructed softball fields as a part of their Olympics infrastructure.
“I don’t care what the sector appears to be like like, we’re blissful it’s again & we’ve been ready a really very long time,” Danielle O’Toole Trejo, who performs for Mexico’s nationwide group and can be a participant in Athletes Limitless, wrote on Twitter. “Our play WILL NOT change. We’re GOOD sufficient to adapt.”
The game’s Olympic return, nevertheless, is bittersweet. There’s no guarantee that softball might be featured in one other Video games.
“Our sport wants this,” Finch stated. “It’s essential for our sport globally to be within the Olympic Video games and have our presence and have the platform to showcase how nice of a recreation it’s.”
NBC will present greater than 7,000 hours of protection of the Tokyo Olympics throughout its platforms, together with NBC stations, cable channels, NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports activities app.
The opening ceremony for the Olympics is scheduled for Friday evening in Tokyo. However the 13-hour time distinction with Tokyo means it is going to be Friday morning in the USA.
NBC can have a reside morning broadcast of the ceremony, beginning at 6:55 a.m. Jap time. Savannah Guthrie, the anchor for “At this time,” and NBC Sports activities’s Mike Tirico will host the ceremony.
Afterward, NBC may also broadcast a particular version of “At this time” that features athlete interviews, adopted by an Olympic daytime present.
Just like years previous, the community will air a packaged prime time model of the ceremony at 7:30 p.m. Jap on Friday. Protection may also be replayed once more in a single day for viewers who missed earlier broadcasts.
Although the opening ceremony is Friday, the primary competitions start on Wednesday in Japan.
Softball, which is returning to the Olympics for the primary time since 2008, kicks off the occasions with a match between Japan and Australia at 8 p.m. Jap on Tuesday. (The sport begins in Japan on Wednesday at 9 a.m. Japan Commonplace Time.) The U.S. softball group may also play forward of the opening ceremony, dealing with Italy at 11 p.m. Jap on Tuesday. Each video games will air on NBC Sports activities.
One other match happening earlier than the opening ceremony is the U.S. ladies’s soccer recreation towards Sweden, which might be broadcast reside on NBC Sports activities at 4:30 a.m. Jap on Wednesday.
Along with NBC Sports activities, Olympic occasions might be proven on the Golf Channel, NBC Olympics, NBC Sports activities Community, Telemundo and USA Community. Occasions may also be streamed on NBCOlympics.com, NBCSports.com and Peacock, the community’s streaming platform.
After the opening ceremony, the Tokyo Video games will stretch throughout 16 days, culminating within the closing ceremony on Aug. 8.
Shortly earlier than the beginning of a current exhibition recreation, the members of Israel’s nationwide baseball group assembled alongside the third-base line at Maimonides Park within the Coney Island neighborhood of Brooklyn and changed their baseball caps with skullcaps in preparation for the singing of the Israeli nationwide anthem.
However just a few gamers knew sufficient Hebrew to sing alongside.
The group, at the moment on tour in New York, has solely 4 gamers who’re native to the nation. The remainder of the 24-player roster principally consists of American gamers whose Jewish roots permit them beneath Olympic guidelines to play for the group. It’s additionally a ragtag assemblage of retired main leaguers, present minor leaguers and even some weekend warriors with day jobs.
4 years in the past, the group was ranked forty eighth on the earth, however it shocked the baseball world by qualifying for the World Baseball Classic, making it into the match’s second spherical. In 2019, it continued its stunning run by qualifying for the Olympics.
Group Israel will compete in Tokyo towards 5 different qualifying international locations: the U.S., Japan, the Dominican Republic, South Korea and Mexico.
At Maimonides Park on July 11, some followers waved Israeli flags. Others wore hats and shirts bearing the Star of David. One fan wore a T-shirt displaying a rabbi slugging a baseball together with the phrases “Jew Crew,” a reference to the nationwide group, which was sporting crisp blue uniforms additionally that includes the Star of David.
The squad most likely has extra followers in New York than in Israel, stated Peter Kurz, the group’s common supervisor.
Brandon Lakind and his good friend Cameron Johnson, highschool college students from Randolph, N.J., stated that they had been following the group.
“It’s loopy to see that they made the highest six groups on the earth,” Brandon stated. “That alone is fairly cool.”
It’s been a rocky street to the 2021 Tokyo Video games, which, after being delayed a yr by the pandemic, will now take place (beginning Friday) without any spectators. Uncertainty and controversy, and a rising variety of Covid-19 cases within the metropolis, have more and more overshadowed the preparations for the Summer time Olympics, and early occasions just like the ceremonial torch relay have felt subdued.
However regardless of the circumstances, the Video games will (virtually definitely) go on. Whether or not you’re a devoted Olympics fan or an informal viewer, these podcasts will get you within the temper.
This compelling new investigative podcast collection tells the little-known true story of one of many largest errors in Olympic historical past. Girls’s gymnastics obtained off to a tough begin on the 2000 video games in Sydney, Australia, marred by controversies over substance use and falsified ages — after which, throughout a contest vault occasion, issues actually obtained bizarre. One after the other, with the entire world watching, elite gymnasts stored falling off the vault, in ways in which had been embarrassing at greatest and harmful at worst. By the point anyone discovered what was happening (no spoilers right here), the harm was executed. On this five-episode collection, by way of interviews with athletes who had been there, Ari Saperstein delves into the weird again story of what occurred.
Starter episode: “Episode 1”
When a metropolis wins its bid to host the Olympics, the implications go manner past the only summer season (or winter) when the ceremonies came about. Utilizing town of Sydney as its take a look at case, this six-episode present explores what occurs as soon as the final medal has been awarded and the crowds have dispersed. Twenty years after the Sydney Olympics, the journalist Mark Beretta interviews the organizers and officers who had been chargeable for fulfilling the pledge to make it “the greenest Video games ever” and the way that call impressed city transformation and environmental progress all through Australia.
The primary podcast from Group U.S.A. debuted lower than a yr in the past, in November of 2020, and it’s positive to whet your urge for food for the long-awaited Video games. Hosted by Sasha Cohen, the 2006 Olympic silver medalist in determine skating, the present options weekly conversations with friends who’re primarily fellow Olympians, together with a number of Tokyo-bound athletes just like the gymnast Yul Moldauer, the Paralympic basketball participant Matt Scott and the softball participant Haylie McCleney. As a result of the present started throughout the pandemic, most of the interviews contact on topics like psychological well being and staying motivated in a time of uncertainty, that are simply as related to nonathletes. The present simply wrapped up its first season at first of July, however there are plans for it to return sooner or later.
Starter episode: “Tokyo Bound”
Olivia Breen, a two-time Paralympic world champion for Britain, stated she was “speechless” and “gobsmacked” when an official on the English Championships advised her on Sunday that her competitors bottoms had been “too brief” and “inappropriate” after she competed in an extended leap occasion.
In a tweet afterward, Breen wrote that she had been sporting most of these shorts, designed for competitors, for years and hoped to put on comparable ones when she competes within the Paralympics in Tokyo subsequent month.
After the episode, Breen questioned whether or not male athletes can be subjected to the identical scrutiny, becoming a member of an array of female athletes speaking out against uniform double standards that may end up in fines towards ladies.
Breen stated that it was extraordinarily scorching on Sunday and that many male lengthy leap athletes took off their shirts however weren’t approached by any officers. However after her occasion, when Breen was chatting with a teammate, she stated an official requested to talk together with her.
“She was similar to, ‘I believe your briefs are too revealing, and I believe it is best to think about shopping for a brand new pair of shorts,’” Breen stated. “My first response was, ‘Are you joking?’”
Breen, 24, has cerebral palsy, listening to loss and a few studying difficulties. She has received gold twice on the I.P.C. World Championships — within the T38 lengthy leap in 2017 and the T35-38 100-meter dash relay in 2015 — and bronze within the 4×100-meter relay within the 2012 Paralympic Video games.
Breen stated light-weight briefs — on this case, Adidas official competitors 2021 briefs, which she later posted a photo of on-line — gave her a bonus. The bottoms complied with laws, she stated, including that she filed a proper grievance to England Athletics, the group working the competitors.
Since posting concerning the episode, Breen stated she had heard from different feminine athletes who’ve had comparable experiences and stated she thought ladies had a proper to really feel snug whereas competing.
“It simply made me so offended,” Breen stated. “We shouldn’t be advised what we will put on and what we will’t put on.”
England Athletics stated in a press release that it might examine the matter.
“The well-being of all individuals in athletics is of the utmost significance, and everybody ought to really feel snug to compete and take part within the sport,” the assertion stated.