|Venue: Olympic Stadium, Tokyo Date: Friday, 23 July Starts: 12:00 BST|
|Coverage: Watch dwell on BBC One, BBC iPlayer and on-line; Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live; dwell textual content on BBC Sport web site and app.|
The Tokyo Olympic Games are upon us. They look and really feel totally different to some other Games of instances passed by, however they’re right here. At final.
With an surprising further 12 months of preparation beneath their belts, greater than 11,300 athletes from 207 nations 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 Games had been postponed in March 2020, organisers stated the Olympic flame “could become the light at the end of the tunnel”. With the Covid-19 pandemic nonetheless raging worldwide, that metaphorical tunnel continues to be being traversed, however Friday’s opening ceremony affords a glimmer of that gentle.
“I think it will be a moment of joy and relief when entering the stadium, a moment of joy in particular for the athletes because I know how much they are longing for this moment,” stated International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.
“Then they can finally be there, they can enjoy this moment under very special circumstances.”
An Olympics in a pandemic
Masks, quarantine, saliva assessments. 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 Games have come beneath big criticism from the Japanese public, the vast majority of whom have stated they need the Olympics to be cancelled or postponed once more.
But security is paramount for the organisers, and big precautions are being taken, together with holding the 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 should 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 day-after-day.
But sadly the virus has affected the Games already, earlier than they’ve formally began.
On Thursday, 12 new circumstances of Covid-19 had been reported, bringing the overall of circumstances associated to Games personnel to 87. There have been eight optimistic circumstances amongst athletes.
Six Team GB athletes have had to isolate in 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 had to pull out of her debut Games after testing optimistic earlier than arriving in Tokyo, whereas Team GB’s Dan Evans and Johanna Konta and world primary shooter Amber Hill withdrew for a similar purpose.
There will probably be a document 339 medal occasions held throughout 33 sports activities, with 5 new sports activities – and 34 new occasions in complete – added to the Tokyo 2020 programme by the IOC. Some 48.8% of athletes competing on the Tokyo Olympics are girls – 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 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 blended medley relay in swimming and a blended relay in triathlon.
These sports activities have been launched in a bid to entice youthful audiences and mirror “the trend of urbanisation of sport”.
IOC president Bach stated: “We want to take sport to the youth. With the many options that young people have, we cannot expect anymore that they will come automatically to us. We have to go to them.”
This 12 months’s Games are additionally doing their bit for sustainability. The medals are made out of recycled cellphones, whereas the Olympic torch was made out of aluminium waste from non permanent housing constructed in the aftermath of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.
Only eight new competitors venues have been constructed from scratch, whereas a lot of the vitality powering Tokyo 2020 comes from renewable sources.
In complete, the Games will price £11.5bn, up 22% due to the one-year delay.
British medal expectations
For the primary time in 125 years, Team GB have chosen extra feminine athletes than male to compete in an Olympics, with 201 of the 376 athletes initially chosen being girls. There will probably be British illustration in 26 of the 33 Olympic sports activities in Tokyo.
Team 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, taking into consideration the “extraordinary circumstances” introduced to athletes and employees in the build-up to the Games.
But 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 change into the primary British feminine athlete to win gold at three successive Olympic Games.
Track cyclists Jason and Laura Kenny each have the prospect to change into GB’s most profitable Olympian – Jason is at the moment 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 Games for Team GB and has medal probabilities in the 100m and 200m, whereas skateboarder Sky Brown, GB’s youngest Olympian at simply 13, is a medal contender in 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 improve gender equality.
Global stars to watch
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 Games and is ready to compete in all 5 occasions once more. If she defends her all-around title she can be the primary Olympic gymnast to achieve this since 1968.
Two extra Americans are anticipated to dominate in the swimming pool. Caeleb Dressel has ‘simply’ the 2 Olympic golds to this point however the 24-year-old is favorite to win up to six gold medals in Tokyo, whereas Katie Ledecky, who received 4 golds in Rio to add to her one from London 2012, is predicted to compete in up to six occasions.
In 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 full the feat.
But arguably one of the crucial anticipated performances of the Tokyo Games will come from 43-year-old transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard.
New Zealand’s Hubbard, who broke male nationwide information as a junior, would be the first trans athlete to compete on the Olympics in a person occasion – the ladies’s 87kg class.