Fans were banned from the pandemic-postponed Tokyo Olympics which will open in two weeks, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said after meeting with IOC and Japanese organizers on Thursday.
The ban came hours after a state of emergency in the capital starting from Monday, declared by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to contain rising COVID-19 cases.
The twin decisions have turned the Olympics into a made-for-TV event in a decision pushed by the Japanese government and supported by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
“Many people were looking forward to watching the games at the venues, but I would like everyone to fully enjoy watching the games on TV at home,” Koike said after the meeting.
Fans from abroad were banned months ago, and the new measures will clear venues around Tokyo — indoor and outdoor — of any fans at all.
Emergency measures to run course of Games
The emergency declaration made for a rude arrival in Japan for IOC president Thomas Bach, who landed in Tokyo on Thursday just hours before the new measures were announced. He was to spend three days in self-isolation at the five-star hotel that lodges IOC members.
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Suga said the state of emergency would go into effect on Monday and last through Aug. 22. This means the Olympics, opening on July 23 and running through Aug. 8, will be held entirely under emergency measures. The Paralympics open on Aug. 24.
“Taking into consideration the impact of the delta strain, and in order to prevent the resurgence of infections from spreading across the country, we need to step up virus prevention measures,” Suga said.
Suga, who had long favoured fans, hinted at a no-fan Olympics in announcing the state of emergency.
“I have already said I won’t hesitate to have no spectators,” he said.
Just two weeks ago, organizers and the IOC allowed venues to be filled to 50 per cent of capacity, but crowds were not to exceed 10,000. The state of emergency has forced a late turnaround, which was always an option if infections got worse.
Bar closures key to toning down festivities
“We will have to consider the option of no spectators,” Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa said in opening remarks with the IOC and others as they went into meetings to discuss a ban on fans.
The main focus of the emergency measures is a request for bars, restaurants and karaoke parlors serving alcohol to close.
A ban on serving alcohol is a key step to tone down Olympic-related festivities and keep people from drinking and partying. Tokyo residents are expected to face stay-at-home requests and to watch the Games on TV from home.
“How to stop people enjoying the Olympics from going out for drinks is a main issue,” Health Minister Norihisa Tamura said.
The infections are in their expansion phase and everyone in this country must firmly understand the seriousness of it.– Dr. Shigeru Omi, top Japanese medical adviser
The present state of emergency ends Sunday.
Tokyo reported 896 new cases on Thursday, up from 673 a week earlier. It’s the 19th straight day that cases have topped the mark set seven days prior.
New cases on Wednesday hit 920, the highest total since 1,010 were reported on May 13.
The no-fan atmosphere will include the opening ceremony at the $1.4 billion US National Stadium, which is traditionally the most watched event during the Olympics.
“It’s not too late. Cancel or postpone it,” said Yukio Edano, the head of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the largest opposition party to Suga’s LDP
The uptick in infections has also forced the Tokyo city government to pull the Olympic torch relay off capital streets, allowing it to run only on remote islands off the Tokyo coast. It’s unclear how the torch will enter the stadium for the opening ceremony.
“The infections are in their expansion phase and everyone in this country must firmly understand the seriousness of it,” Dr. Shigeru Omi, a top government medical adviser, said.
Olympics pushing ahead
He urged authorities to quickly take tough measures ahead of the Olympics, with summer vacations approaching.
Omi has repeatedly called for a ban on spectators, and has said it’s “abnormal” to hold the Olympics during a pandemic.
Separately, a government COVID-19 advisory panel met Wednesday and expressed concerns about the ongoing resurgence of the infections.
“Two-thirds of the infections in the capital region are from Tokyo, and our concern is the spread of the infections to neighbouring areas,” said Ryuji Wakita, director-general of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases.
The Olympics are pushing ahead against most medical advice, partially because the postponement stalled the IOC’s income flow.
It gets almost 75 per cent of its income from selling broadcast rights, and estimates suggest it would lose $3 billion to $4 billion if the Olympics were cancelled.
About 11,000 Olympians and 4,400 Paralympians are expected to enter Japan, with tens of thousands of officials, judges, administrators, sponsors, broadcasters and media also entering. The IOC says more than 80 per cent of residents in the Olympic Village will be vaccinated.
Nationwide, Japan has had about 810,000 cases and nearly 14,900 deaths. Only 15 per cent the Japanese population are fully vaccinated, still low compared with 47.4 per cent in the United States and almost 50 per cent in Britain.
Canada earns first medal in Tokyo with silver in women’s 4×100 freestyle swimming – Sportsnet.ca
Canada has earned its first trip to the podium at the Tokyo Olympics, claiming silver in the women’s 4×100-metre swimming freestyle relay Saturday night.
Penny Oleksiak, the decorated swimmer who anchored the Canadian women to the nation’s first medal of these Games, earned her fifth career trip to the podium in the process, tying the all-time record for a summer Olympian from Canada. Rower Lesley Thompson-Willie and sprinter Phil Edwards are Canada’s other two five-time summer Games medalists.
“I think it’s kind of crazy,” Oleksiak said after the race. “I think we were all hopeful that we would get a medal. We didn’t know what medal it would really be. I think we all just wanted one. For it to be a silver, it’s pretty crazy I think.”
Kayla Sanchez, Maggie Mac Neil and Rebecca Smith rounded out Canada’s medal-winning crew. Sanchez took the lead position in the final, giving Mac Neil and Smith a chance to inch Canada closer to its eventual silver.
Then, in the final length, Oleksiak took over, propelling Canada out of what could have been a fourth-place finish and onto the podium.
“I just knew I wasn’t going to touch third,” Oleksiak said. “And when I make a decision in the race I have to execute it, so I wanted a silver medal for these girls and I wanted it so bad I wouldn’t accept anything else.”
Taylor Ruck, the fifth member of the team, didn’t swim in the final but competed in the preliminary heats and also received a medal.
Earlier in the night Mac Neil, who replaced Ruck in the final, placed third in her semifinal of the women’s 100-metre butterfly, earning a place in Sunday’s final and a chance to earn an individual medal for Canada.
In that semifinal, Mac Neil, the 2019 world champion and Canadian record holder in the event, posted a time of 56.56 seconds. She finished behind world record holder and Olympic champion Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden, and Yufei Zhang of China, who finished first with a time of 55.89 seconds.
“I know from experience my second swim is usually better because I’m warmed up already,” Mac Neil said. “I was really looking forward to it. Having these girls with me definitely gave me that extra boost to get silver.”
The Australian women’s team earned gold in Saturday’s 4×100-metre freestyle, shattering the previous world record with a time of 03:29.69. Canada managed to beat out the USA by a mere three one-hundredths of a second, as the Americans finished with bronze.
The Canadian relay team secured its place in tonight’s final by posting the third-fastest time in yesterday’s semifinal with a combined time of three minutes 33.72 seconds, narrowly behind the Netherlands and Australia.
This relay team kicking off the nation’s Olympics success isn’t new. Five years ago, during the Rio Games, it was the Canadian women’s 4×100-metre freestyle relay team that earned Canada’s first medal with a bronze.
Canada’s women will seek to secure a podium position in all three relay events during the Tokyo games after achieving three bronze medals during the world championship in South Korea two years ago.
“I have a lot of faith in these people,” Sanchez said. “If you want someone to anchor it’s Penny. And if you want someone to swim second it’s Maggie. And Rebecca is a great trainer and consistent. We just did what we needed to do.”
Tokyo 2020: Canada wins first medal after swimming to silver in women's 4×100 freestyle relay – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
The Canadian Press
Published Saturday, July 24, 2021 10:55PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, July 24, 2021 10:55PM EDT
TOKYO — Canada has its first medal of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after the women’s 4×100 freestyle relay team raced to silver.
Penny Oleksiak and Kayla Sanchez of Toronto, Margaret Mac Neil of London, Ont., and Rebecca Smith of Red Deer, Alta., finished in a time of three minutes 32.78 seconds as Canada picked up a medal in the event for a second straight Games.
Australia won gold in a world-record time of 3:29.69, while the United States finished third in 3:32.81.
Oleksiak swam the anchor leg and narrowly beat out American Simone Manuel at the wall.
Canada’s women are looking to duplicate the success they had in the pool at the 2016 Rio Games, where they picked up six medals.
Earlier on Sunday, Mac Neil also advanced to Monday morning’s 100-metre butterfly final. The 21-year-old world champion in the event posted the sixth-fastest time in the semifinals.
An hour after qualifying for the butterfly final, Mac Neil drew into the relay lineup for Taylor Ruck who swam the heat for Canada. The women posted the third-fastest time in the preliminaries.
Sanchez led off the final followed by Mac Neil and Smith with Oleksiak bringing the team home.
Oleksiak and Ruck won a pair of freestyle relay bronze medals as 16-year-olds in Rio de Janeiro five years ago.
They teamed with Sandrine Mainville and Chantal Van Landeghem in the 4 x 100 to win Canada’s first medal of the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Oleksiak also swam the anchor leg in Rio.
Canada’s women aim for the podium in all three relays in Tokyo after earning three bronze at the world championship in Gwangju, South Korea two years ago.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 24, 2021.
The Edmonton Oilers select big German defender Luca Munzenberger at #90 overall – Edmonton Journal
The Edmonton Oilers trading down on Day #1 of the NHL draft was converted not 24 hours later into Defenceman Luca Munzenbeger.
Gotta love the name! Munzenberger is an 18-year old out of Dusseldorf, Germany. He has a late (November) 2002 birth date.
He’s a big, left-handed shot at 6’3, 194 LBS.
Munzenberger spent the majority of 2020-21 with Kolner Junghaie of the DNL U20. In 6 games he went 1-2-3 and served as Team Captain. His time in junior versus pro left open the door for him to play in college. Munzenberger also played for Team Germany at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Edmonton (0-0-0 in 5GP). More on that in a minute…
Munzenberger is considered to be an excellent PK man, but possesses a big shot which makes him a threat from the point as well. Scouts say he has a soft set of hands and makes an effective first-pass out of his own zone. Those who have seen him play, namely amateur scout Brock Otten, describe the kid as a “suffocating physical defender” with a mean streak. He’s an above-average skater for his size with a massive stride and a big wingspan. He’s effective at clearing the slot and his reach helps him get to pucks ahead of attackers. In my own viewing of his highlights from the WJC’s, Munzenberger closes quickly and effectively on the opposition along the walls. The foot-speed, reach and size are visibly key tools in his ability to break up the cycle.
A side note from that tournament that may indicate the quality of his intangibles: Munzenberger was in COVID quarantine at the very beginning ot the WJ’s, but emerged from that status prior to Christmas and rebounded with a strong performance. That would seem to speak to the kid’s resilience. The young man in a foreign country responded to a stressful situation and considerable uncertainty extremely well.
Draft analyst Steve Kournianos says of him: “A big bodied vacuum cleaner on defence… He has ideal size but the mobility and agility to cover faster players… He plays a mean, physical brand of hockey and can be considered a throwback… He has soft hands and delivers clean passes to any area in the offensive zone, but what makes Munzenberger dangerous is his lethal shot — he owns a bomb of a shot, not only for its velocity but for the sheer power he generates with little backswing. His wrister is just as nasty.”
It is fair to consider this pick as somewhat “off the board”. Elite Prospects had him at #214. No other service had him listed at all. One wonders if fellow countryman Leon Draisaitl had and offered any insight on the player to the Oilers draft team? He and his father surely know of every sharp prospect in that nation.
Munzenberger is committed to NCAA University of Vermont in 2022-23 which offers another interesting tidbit. Todd Woodcroft is the coach of that program, the brother of Bakersfield Condors bench boss Jay Woodcroft. So, there may well be some added insight from that connection.
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