Olympics 2021: Live News and Updates From Tokyo
Olympics 2021: Live News and Updates From Tokyo
Current time in Tokyo: July 31, 4:46 p.m.
Simone Biles, the superstar American gymnast, will not compete in Sunday’s event finals for vault and uneven bars at the Tokyo Games, according to U.S.A. Gymnastics. Earlier this week, she withdrew from the event finals and the all-around final, citing mental health reasons, and she is still eligible for finals in the floor exercise on Monday and the balance beam on Tuesday.
MyKayla Skinner, the American who had the fourth-highest score on vault during qualifying, will take Biles’s place in the vault final. Skinner did not initially secure a spot in the final because each country is allowed only two gymnasts in each final, and Biles and Jade Carey had qualified ahead of her.
“Can’t wait to compete in vault finals. Doing this for us,” Skinner said on Twitter, mentioning Biles. “It’s go time baby!”
Mélanie de Jesus dos Santos of France will take Biles’s place in the bars finals.
In an emailed statement on Saturday, U.S.A. Gymnastics said Biles “will continue to be evaluated daily” to determine whether she will compete in the floor exercise and the balance beam or whether her Tokyo Games are over.
“We remain in awe of Simone, who continues to handle this situation with courage and grace, and all of the athletes who have stepped up during these unexpected circumstances,” the statement said.
Biles, the four-time Olympic gold medalist, won a silver medal with her U.S. team in the team final after backing out of the event once it began. After performing the vault, she said she had gotten lost in the air and could no longer gauge where her body was in relation to the ground. She said she didn’t think it was safe for her to continue and said she didn’t want to risk losing a medal for the U.S. team by not being able to perform well. Instead, she left her teammates to compete without her and cheered them on from the competition floor.
Two days later, Biles also did not compete in the all-around final because of the issue, which can be described as a mental block. In an Instagram story on Friday, she said that the problem was still plaguing her.
“Literally can not tell up from down,” Biles wrote in the Instagram story. “It’s the craziest feeling ever. Not having an inch of control over your body.”
Biles, who came into the Tokyo Games undefeated in the all-around since 2013, had been expected to become the first woman in 53 years to win back-to-back all-around Olympic titles. Instead, Biles’s teammate, Sunisa Lee, of St. Paul, Minn., went on to win the all-around on Thursday. Lee will compete for her next medal on Sunday on the uneven bars, her specialty.
TOKYO — It was the Katie and Caeleb Show, an ongoing series at swimming, as the Americans continued their medal haul at the Olympics.
Caeleb Dressel won his third gold medal of these Olympics, setting a world record in the 100-meter butterfly with a time of 49.45 seconds. He will look for his fourth gold on Sunday, the meet’s final day, in the 50-meter fly.
Katie Ledecky finished her meet at the Tokyo Games with a gold medal in one of her signature races, the women’s 800-meter freestyle, becoming the first swimmer to win the event in three consecutive Olympics.
She finished in 8 minutes 12.57 seconds, beating rival Ariarne Titmus of Australia by 1.26 seconds. And while Ledecky is finished in Tokyo, floating away with two gold medals (the other in the 1,500 free) and two silver medals, she said she is already looking forward to the 2024 Olympics in Paris, just three years away, and toying with the 2028 Games in Los Angeles.
“I’m definitely going through Paris,” Ledecky said. “And maybe beyond, as well. We’ll see.”
Dressel finished the 100 fly on the best possible note — a world record — but had more swimming to do. He cruised through a semifinal heat in the 50 free, and will be favored to win another gold on the meet’s last day.
He then joined the American team in the final of the inaugural mixed 4×100 medley relay, swimming free in the final leg, but it was not enough to earn the United States a medal. Britain won, with a world record, followed by China and Australia. The United States was fifth, three seconds behind the winners.
The Americans had hoped for another medal or two in the 200-meter women’s backstroke, but ended up fourth and fifth. Kaylee McKeown of Australia won in a time of 2:04.68.
Simone Manuel of the United States failed to qualify for the 50-meter freestyle final after finishing 11th out of 16 swimmers in semifinal heats in a time of 24.63 seconds. It was the only individual event for Manuel, who shockingly did not qualify for the Olympics in the 100 free, her signature event and one where she won gold at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
Novak Djokovic, the No. 1 ranked men’s tennis player in the world, is no longer chasing a Golden Slam, but he can win an Olympic bronze medal on Saturday.
Djokovic, of Serbia, is playing Pablo Carreño Busta of Spain after both players were eliminated in their semifinals on Friday. They were both ranked higher than their semifinal opponents, yet it will be Alexander Zverev of Germany (who beat Djokovic) facing Karen Khachanov of Russia on Sunday for the gold.
Carreño Busta won the first set, 6-4, after securing an early break of Djokovic’s serve. Djokovic had a chance to catch up late in the set with a break point, but lost it after a long rally by hitting a forehand into the net. Afterward, he leaned over for several seconds, trying to catch his breath. The heat at the Ariake tennis center is stifling — 90 degrees, even in the shade — with what feels like the full force of the sun bearing down on the hardcourt.
Tennis players up and down each draw have struggled throughout these tournaments to cope with the heat. Their only moments of relief on center court, it seems, come when they are sitting underneath large white umbrellas on each changeover, where they can have a cold drink and use a large circular hose that blows cold air. The north side of the court is the first to get shade in the afternoon, but the advantages there are marginal at best.
The men’s match is the first course in a triple-header on center court. Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan plays Elina Svitolina of Ukraine for a bronze medal, then Belinda Bencic of Switzerland faces Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic on Saturday night.
Track and field’s drug testing agency temporarily suspended a Nigerian sprinter after a failed drug test, the first drug-related suspension of an active athlete at the Tokyo Games.
In a statement, the Athletics Integrity Unit, which runs the antidoping program for the sport, said that a sample collected from the sprinter, Blessing Okagbare, during an out-of-competition test on July 19 had tested positive for growth hormones. Okagbare, 32, won her opening heat in the women’s 100 meters on Friday in 11.05 seconds and had been scheduled to run in the semifinals on Saturday.
Okagbare’s suspension was the not the first testing-related problem for Nigeria’s track and field competitors at these Games.
On Thursday, the Athletics Integrity Unit declared 20 Olympic track and field athletes ineligible to compete because they had not met out-of-competition testing requirements leading up to the Olympics. Of the 20 athletes, 10 were from Nigeria.
The Athletic Federation of Nigeria, the governing body for sports in the country, issued a statement attributing the problem to an administrative failure and not to any positive tests for banned substances. The athletes were declared ineligible to compete because they had not completed the required three out-of-competition tests, the organization said.
“The A.F.N. bears responsibility for any lapses that may have occurred during the process and reassures Nigerians that our performances will not be negatively impacted,” the organization said.
In a separate statement, the country’s ministry of sport also clarified that none of the 10 athletes in question had tested positive for a banned substance.
Chioma Onyekwere, a Nigerian discus thrower who is ranked No. 16 in the world and whose event was scheduled for Saturday, was among those disqualified. She said she and her teammates who were affected by the ruling had learned of the news on Thursday night from officials with the country’s Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and the Athletic Federation of Nigeria.
“I think we were all shocked,” Onyekwere said. “Everyone was in disbelief that this could be happening.”
On Friday, all 10 of the athletes who had been disqualified from the Games held a protest in Tokyo, where they walked through the Olympic Village with signs that read “All we wanted to do is compete” and “Why should we suffer because of someone else’s negligence?”
“It is a painful thing to be at your peak and not be able to compete,” Onyekwere, 23, said from her room in the Olympic Village as she watched her competition live on her computer. Already the Nigerian record-holder in women’s discus, Onyekwere had wanted to break the African record at the Games, she said.
Tokyo would have been all 10 athletes’ debut on the Olympic stage.
“It hurts,” Chidi Okezie, who had been set to compete in the 4×400-meter mixed relay, said in a message, adding a broken heart emoji.
Now, because they are not competing, the athletes have to leave Tokyo on Sunday.
On Thursday, before Okagbare’s suspension was announced, the youth and sports ministry issued a statement saying that 12 athletes from the country’s track and field team had been cleared to participate in the Games.
The world’s antidoping organizations have long struggled to oversee consistent testing across numerous countries, a challenge made worse by the pandemic. In the months before the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016, more than 1,900 athletes across 10 key sports — including track and field, weight lifting and cycling — were not tested, a failure that doping officials vowed would not be repeated in the next Olympic cycle.
TOKYO — It starts with a bounce.
It’s more like a little hop, the kind you might tentatively take on a neighbor’s backyard trampoline. Then the bounces get higher, far higher than seems safe. “Kids, I’ve told you to be careful on that trampoline,” you have the urge to call out.
After about 10 bounces, with the athletes a dizzying 30-plus feet in the air, the tricks begin — 10 in a row, without a break: somersaults, twists, triple somersaults, triple twists. Suddenly, this sport that maybe didn’t seem much like a sport is one of the most impressive things you’ve ever seen.
That’s Olympic trampoline gymnastics.
Athletes are judged on the difficulty and execution of their moves, as well as how long they are in the air and “horizontal displacement,” or how close to the center of the trampoline the they land on each bounce.
Concern about safety is not misplaced. For each routine, a spotter stands by holding a mat, ready to quickly break a fall if an athlete looks like they will miss the trampoline. The second qualifying routine of Aliaksei Shostak of the United States ended abruptly when he landed too close to the edge and one of his legs wedged between the trampoline and the matted rim around it.
Despite several similar mishaps in the men’s competition on Saturday, the gymnasts all walked away unscathed.
The event was expected to be a replay of 2016, with all three medalists from the Rio Games — Uladzislau Hancharou of Belarus, and Dong Dong and Gao Lei of China — in the mix.
But Gao, the reigning world champion, strayed too far off-center in his second qualifying routine, landing with a thud well off the mat. He was shockingly out of the final.
Hancharou was the defending champion and Dong the Olympic legend, having won the 2012 gold and a 2008 bronze as well as his 2016 silver.
But it was a young gun who triumphed over both of them: Ivan Litvinovich of Belarus, just 20, had the highest difficulty score, and his towering bounces gave him the best flight time score. Dong placed second ahead of Dylan Schmidt of New Zealand, and Hancharou was fourth.
Zhu Xueying led a Chinese 1-2 in the women’s event on Friday. “The most important thing was to keep myself calm,” she said. Maybe easier for the athletes than the spectators.
Here are some highlights of U.S. broadcast coverage on Saturday morning. All times are Eastern.
ARCHERY The men’s individual quarterfinals, semifinals and final unfold at Yumenoshima Park Archery Field beginning at 1:45 a.m. on CNBC. NBC will also air the final at 8 a.m.
TENNIS Belinda Bencic of Switzerland plays Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic for the gold medal in women’s singles at 6 a.m. on the Olympic Channel. On Saturday night, Alexander Zverev of Germany plays Karen Khachanov of Russia for the gold medal in men’s singles.
TRACK & FIELD Events continue at the Olympic Stadium, all on NBCOlympics.com, including qualifications in the men’s long jump at 6:10 a.m.; semifinals in the women’s 100 meters at 6:15 a.m.; the men’s discus throw final at 7:15 a.m.; the women’s 800-meter semifinals at 7:50 a.m.; the mixed 4×400-meter relay final at 8:35 a.m., and the women’s 100-meter final at 8:50 a.m.
SOCCER NBC Sports will air the first men’s quarterfinal, Spain vs. Ivory Coast, at 4 a.m. USA Network will air Japan vs. New Zealand at 5 a.m. The two other quarterfinals — Brazil vs. Egypt at 6 a.m., and South Korea vs. Mexico at 7 a.m. — will stream on NBCOlympics.com.
JUDO The finals of the first-ever mixed team competition begin at 4 a.m. on NBCOlympics.com. Watch again at 2:15 p.m. on USA Network.
RUGBY SEVENS The women’s final matches begin at 4:30 a.m. on USA Network. Fiji and Great Britain play for the bronze medal and New Zealand and France vie for the gold.
BADMINTON Men’s doubles bronze- and gold-medal matches and women’s singles semifinals from the Musashino Forest Sports Plaza at the Tokyo Olympics. Play begins at 5 a.m. on NBCOlympics.com.
FENCING Medals are awarded in the women’s team saber competition, which begins at 5:30 a.m. Watch on NBCOlympics.com or on NBC Sports at 11 a.m.
BASEBALL In the last game of the opening round, the United States plays South Korea at 6 a.m. on NBC Sports.
TOKYO — Saturday is a day for the new mixed-gender events at the Olympics. Track will have a 4×400 mixed relay and swimming a 4×100 freestyle mixed relay. There will be a triathlon relay and team judo and trap shooting events.
At the track, golds will also be awarded in men’s discus and the women’s 100 meters at 9:50 p.m. Tokyo time, 8:50 a.m. Eastern. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the Jamaican who won gold in 2008 and 2012 and bronze in 2016, will go for gold No. 3.
Also on the gold medal menu are women’s rugby sevens, men’s trampoline and the wind surfing events.
TOKYO — The U.S. women’s soccer team defeated the Netherlands on penalties after a 2-2 draw in their quarterfinal on Friday night. Next up, a semifinal against Canada on Monday.
In tennis, Novak Djokovic’s surprise loss to Alexander Zverev of Germany ended his bid for a Golden Slam. The first track final, the men’s 10,000 meters, was won by Selemon Barega of Ethiopia.
Ryan Murphy won a silver in the men’s 200-meter backstroke, but he caused a stir by suggesting that the race, won by Evgeny Rylov of Russia, might have been tainted by drug use.
The United States men’s and women’s eights each finished fourth, meaning the U.S. failed to win a rowing medal for the first time since 1908.
Connor Fields of the United States, the defending gold medalist, was in excellent position in his BMX semifinal when he clipped the wheel of the rider in front and went down in a nasty three-bike crash. Medical personnel attended to Fields for several minutes before he was carried from the track on a stretcher and taken to a hospital.
Teddy Riner of France, a legendary heavyweight judoka, failed in his bid to win a third straight gold medal, but did capture a bronze.
The U.S. women’s basketball team improved to 2-0 with an 86-69 victory over Japan. A’ja Wilson had 20 points. The women’s rugby team was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Britain, 21-12.
April Ross and Alix Klineman won their beach volleyball group with a perfect 3-0 record; they advanced to the round of 16.
A cluster of coronavirus cases has emerged among police officers providing security at the Tokyo Games, sending 50 officers into quarantine as the Olympics reach their midway point and the city grapples with a surge of infections.
Kazuhiro Kimura, a spokesman for the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, said that 14 officers who were assigned to guard Olympic competition venues had become infected and were in quarantine. Another 36 officers were identified as close contacts and also quarantined.
According to the police, four officers developed symptoms on July 23, the day of the opening ceremony. Officials did not disclose which venues the officers had been assigned to, but said that they wore masks while on duty and did not have contact with members of the public.
Tokyo 2020 organizers on Saturday reported 21 new infections among people credentialed for the Games, bringing the total number of reported cases connected to the Olympics to 246, including 26 athletes.
Tokyo and the rest of Japan are experiencing the worst surge of the pandemic. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced on Friday that the government would expand a state of emergency to four areas besides Tokyo, and that the restrictions in the capital would be extended until the end of August — past the conclusion of the Olympics and into the start of the Paralympic Games.
With only 28 percent of the population fully vaccinated, the highly contagious Delta variant has taken root in Japan. More than three-quarters of cases in Tokyo are now being caused by the variant, according to the health ministry.
Ryan Murphy won a silver medal for the United States in the men’s 200-meter backstroke and then caused some fireworks in his news conference when he questioned whether his race, won by a Russian, was drug free, given Russia’s history of doping in sports.
“I don’t know if it was 100 percent clean,” Murphy said, “and that’s because of things that have happened in the past.”
Evgeny Rylov won in an Olympic record time of 1 minute 53.27 seconds. Rylov took control of the race on the second turn, stretching his lead to a half-second at the halfway mark and finishing about half a body length ahead of Murphy, who was the defending Olympic champion in the event.
Rylov won by 0.88 of a second, but after the race Murphy dived into the fray of whether Russian athletes should be allowed to compete at the Games, given the country’s history of state-sponsored doping. Russia’s athletes are competing in Tokyo as representatives of the Russian Olympic Committee, and all who were allowed to race had to go through a rigorous clearing process before being allowed to participate.
Still, Murphy directly questioned whether his race had been free of doping. He took care not to directly accuse Rylov, who was seated four feet to his left, of cheating but referred more generally to Russia’s doping history.
Rylov chose not to address Murphy’s comments, saying only that he was a supporter of clean sports and that he had followed all the procedures that were required for him to swim at the Olympics. Murphy then clarified that he was not making a direct accusation but did not back away from his statements.
“I need to be clear,” he said. “My intention is not to make any allegations here. Congratulations to Evgeny; congratulations to Luke. They both did an incredible job. They’re both very talented swimmers. They both train real hard, and they’ve got great technique.”
The bronze medalist in the race, Luke Greenbank of Britain, took the same stance as Murphy. “It’s frustrating knowing there’s a state-sponsored doping program going on and not more being done to tackle that,” he said afterward.
The Russian Olympic Committee dismissed the comments as poor sportsmanship. “How badly our victories unnerve our colleagues,” it said in a tweet. “Here we go again — the same old song about Russian doping is played by the old music box. Someone is diligently turning the handle.”
TOKYO — Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands could try to do something unprecedented at the Tokyo Games: win the women’s 1,500, 5,000 and 10,000 meters. To do so, she would need to run multiple heats in multiple events, including five races in six days next week if she successfully plows through the rounds.
She started her bid for a possible triple gold on Friday night by winning her first-round heat of the 5,000 and securing a spot in Monday night’s final.
She raised her hands in muted celebration as she crossed the finish line.
“I was celebrating getting into the final,” Hassan said. “That is a lot of pressure.”
Asked whether she had decided to compete in all three events at the Olympics — something that’s been widely speculated — she said: “Not yet. I have to talk to my coach.”
Elise Cranny and Karissa Schweizer of the United States also made it to the final.
“It was a tough field out there, and I got really pushed around,” said Schweizer, who was bleeding from her shins after getting spiked.
Hassan, 28, has emerged as one of the most dynamic and versatile runners in the world since the 2016 Olympics, when she placed fifth in the 1,500 meters while failing to advance through her qualifying heat of the 800 meters. She signaled her meteoric rise at the 2019 world championships by winning both the 1,500 and 10,000 meters. She broke the mile world record later that year.
In June, Hassan set another world record, this time in the 10,000 meters, only to have it broken two days later by Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia. Gidey is among the athletes who will challenge Hassan in Tokyo.
Hassan was coached by Alberto Salazar until 2019, when he was banned for four years by the United States Anti-Doping Agency for violating rules governing banned substances. This week, Salazar was permanently barred from participating in track and field.
And in the final event of the opening day of competition at Olympic Stadium, Selemon Barega of Ethiopia held off two athletes from Uganda, Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo, to win gold in the men’s 10,000 meters. Barega scorched the final laps to edge out Cheptegei, the world-record holder in both the 5,000 and 10,000 meters, by 0.41 seconds.
Grant Fisher of the United States finished fifth.
It was the first time someone other than Mo Farah of Britain won the 10,000 since 2008. Farah, who doubled as the 5,000- and 10,000-meter champion at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, failed to qualify for the Tokyo Games.
TOKYO — Players on the Mexican softball team apologized on Friday for leaving team gear with the country’s flag in the trash before returning home from the Tokyo Olympics — actions that drew the ire of their own federation, other Mexican Olympians and fans.
“We are sorry that the actions of our team have caused such disappointment for our supporters and Olympic fans across the country,” the pitcher Danielle O’Toole wrote on Instagram in English and Spanish. O’Toole was a pitcher for the University of Arizona.
“We have been proud to wear Mexico’s colors, and to give other young girls of Mexican heritage hope and inspiration,” the statement continued. “We had no intention of disrespecting our country or our flag. We had no intention of disregarding what being in the Olympics means for so many.”
The day before, the Mexican boxers Brianda Tamara and Esmeralda Falcón posted photos of Team Mexico gear they said was left in clear bags for trash in Tokyo. In the photos, there are empty soda bottles and coffee cups mixed in with a fielder’s mitt and what look like team jackets and shirts.
“This uniform represents years of effort, sacrifice and tears,” wrote Tamara, who first posted about the discoveries. “All Mexican athletes yearn to carry it with dignity. And today, sadly, the Mexican softball team left it all in the trash of the Olympic Village.”
Fans responded angrily, too. Some even crudely questioning the heritages of members of the softball team. Many of the players are Mexican American and went to high school and college in the United States. Some even previously played for U.S. national teams.
The team, Mexico’s first for Olympic softball, lost to Canada 3-2 to finish fourth.
Responding to the outcry, the Mexican softball federation issued a strongly worded statement on Friday morning Tokyo time saying it was upset with the players responsible.
“We will conduct an investigation to find those responsible, applying the appropriate sanctions and ensuring that they no longer represent the federation,” the statement read in part.
In earlier comments to the Olympic broadcaster TV Azteca, Rolando Guerrero, president of the Mexico Softball Federation, said players were given nine sets of apparel and were unable to fit it all in their suitcases, particularly because of the space taken up by bats, gloves and other equipment.
Carlos Padilla, president of Mexico’s Olympic Committee, told ESPN Deportes that the players took the bedspreads from their rooms instead of the official gear. The report also noted additional equipment was found in the garbage, including the opening ceremony apparel and sneakers.
O’Toole’s statement said the players took home as much as they each could fit in their one suitcase, including “all of our game uniforms, embroidered apparel, and softball equipment.” She added that she and her teammates didn’t mean to give an impression of disrespect.
“We will work to do better and be better,” she said.
In its later statement, the Mexican softball federation said the amount of equipment players needed to carry wasn’t a valid reason for their actions. It also apologized to all of Mexico.