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Tokyo Olympics officially begin under spectre of pandemic – Al Jazeera English

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The opening ceremony marks the beginning of the Summer Games, delayed by a year and held under unprecedented restrictions.

The opening ceremony of the Summer Olympic Games has begun in Tokyo, with a blaze of white and indigo fireworks officially kicking off the quadrennial international sporting event being held under the unprecedented circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic.

Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach were followed by a small delegation carrying the Japanese flag as they entered Friday’s ceremony, which was initially scheduled to be held about a year earlier before its postponement due to surging COVID-19 infections across the world.

The procession was followed by a moment of silence for victims of the pandemic, as well as Israeli Olympians killed during the 1972 Munich games, before the first of an expected 5,700 athletes began streaming into the ceremony.

Only a few hundred dignitaries and special guests, including French President Emmanuel Macron and US First Lady Jill Biden, were allowed into the 68,000-capacity New National Stadium after games officials decided to largely bar spectators. International and domestic fans have been banned from all venues in Tokyo.

Top sponsors, including Toyota and Panasonic, also opted not to send their representatives to the opening event, with polls showing the Japanese public remaining largely against moving forward with the sprawling gathering in which about 11,000 athletes will contest 339 medal events across 50 disciplines in 33 sports over two weeks.

Japan’s flag is carried during the opening ceremony. [Leah Millis/Reuters]

Days preceding the ceremony have been defined by positive tests among athletes, officials and their small teams of support staff amid fears the games could become a super-spreader event.

On Friday, the number of Olympic-related infections since July 1 stood at 106, dashing the hopes of some athletes who have trained for years to qualify and forcing some events to already dip into carefully tailored contingency plans designed to assure the competition can proceed.

Concerns of further infection were on full display on Friday, with some country’s teams, notably Brazil, opting to send only their flagbearers as representatives at the ceremony.

Nevertheless, hundreds of people began gathering outside the Olympic Stadium on Friday hoping for a glimpse of what is usually an opportunity for the hosting country to offer an elaborate spectacle highlighting their history and culture to audiences watching around the world.

A small group of protesters also gathered outside of the event.

Anti-Olympics protesters gather outside the opening ceremony. ‘[Issei Kato/Reuters]

Reporting from outside the ceremony, Al Jazeera’s Andy Richardson said, “There’s a sense of almost disbelief hanging around this stadium.”

“There has been so much talk about this over the last 12 months – but here we are,” he said, adding that the planners of the event have said the programme will be “sombre and in sync with the sentiment of today, what this country and the world is going through with the pandemic.”

“The opening ceremony has always been a pretty integral part of the Games in showcasing the country’s national identity, but I don’t think many host cities have had to pull off quite such a balancing act to win over such a sceptical public,” he said.

Performers are seen during the opening ceremony. [Stefan Wermuth/Reuters]

Meanwhile, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga sought to frame the games as the beginning of a return to normalcy after a year and a half of global uncertainty as he urged the athletes “to fully demonstrate their abilities and show us their very best performances”.

“The sight of athletes aiming to be the very best in the world gives dreams and courage to young people and children and deeply moves them,” he said in a video posted on Twitter.

Still, questions over the wisdom of moving forward with the games were not the only cloud to loom over Friday’s event.

In a last-minute scandal, the opening ceremony’s director, Kentaro Kobayashi, was fired on Thursday over jokes he made in the 1990s about the Holocaust.

Officials said the dismissal would not affect the programme.

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Ticats list Watford as starting QB vs. Stampeders – TSN

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David Watford has been listed as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats starting quarterback for Friday’s game against the Calgary Stampeders.

The move comes after Watford took the majority of snaps in practice this week with Jeremiah Masoli limited due to a rib injury. Tiger-Cats head coach Orlondo Steinauer told said Thursday the decision would be based on how Masoli was feeling.

Watford has completed six passes this season for 78 yards.

Masoli opened the season as the team’s starting quarterback, but was replaced by Dane Evans. Evans was ruled out for four-to-six weeks with an Oblique injury on Monday.

Masoli, 33, has completed 41 of 66 passes this season for 371 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions.

The Tiger-Cats will be looking to get back to .500 with a win Friday against the Stampeders (2-4).

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AC Leonard receives an additional one-game suspension; six players fined – CFL.ca

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TORONTO — The Canadian Football League announced the following on Thursday:

Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive lineman A.C. Leonard has been suspended for one additional game due to a verbal abuse and unacceptable behaviour towards the doping control officers. Leonard was previously suspended for two games for failing to provide a sample for drug testing.

Fines from Week 6:

  • Saskatchewan Roughriders safety Mike Edem was fined for a tourist hit on Winnipeg Blue Bombers receiver Nic Demski.
  • Winnipeg Blue Bombers running back Andrew Harris was fined for grabbing Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive back Christian Campbell’s facemask in a reckless and unsafe manner.
  • Winnipeg Blue Bombers offensive lineman Drew Desjarlais was fined for his involvement in instigating the altercation between the two teams.
  • Calgary Stampeders offensive lineman Justin Lawrence was fined for a chop-block on Edmonton Elks defensive lineman Jake Ceresna.
  • Edmonton Elks linebacker Nyles Morgan was fined for kicking Calgary Stampeders offensive lineman Bryce Bell.

An additional fine from Week 5:

  • Toronto Argonauts defensive back Shaquille Richardson was fined for unsportsmanlike conduct in the Labour Day Classic against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

As per league policy, the amounts of the player fines were not disclosed.

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Hopkins converts second chance to give Washington wild win over Giants – Sportsnet.ca

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LANDOVER, Md. — Taylor Heinicke and Dustin Hopkins made the most of their second chances.

Washington needed every last second — and then some — to earn a long-awaited win over the New York Giants.

Hopkins made a 43-yard field goal on an untimed down — after a penalty negated his miss seconds earlier — and Washington beat New York 30-29 on Thursday night, snapping a five-game win streak for the Giants in the series.

It also gave Heinicke another moment in the sun after he cost Washington dearly with a late interception. The 28-year-old quarterback was making his second career start in the regular season and first since 2018 with Carolina. He became a bit of a sensation when Washington had to use him in last season’s playoffs against Tom Brady and Tampa Bay, but his team lost that game.

“It’s amazing,” Heinicke said. “The first start was what, two or three years ago in Carolina? Threw three picks, tore my tricep, it was just a brutal thing — and that was my last start until last year (against) Tampa. Come in to Tampa last year, had a good game, but ultimately fell up short. And finally get that first win.”

Heinicke, playing because of an injury to Ryan Fitzpatrick, threw for 336 yards and two touchdowns.

His interception set up Graham Gano’s fifth field goal of the game, which gave the Giants a 29-27 lead with 2:00 remaining. Heinicke then guided Washington back into field goal range.

“He does have the ability to throw the ball and make all the throws. We’ve seen that,” coach Ron Rivera said. “And he’s got a lot of confidence.”

Hopkins missed his first attempt to win the game, but he was given a reprieve when Dexter Lawrence was flagged for being offside. His next attempt was good, giving Washington (1-1) a wild victory.

“Somebody out there check on my mother,” Hopkins said. “She’s probably had a heart attack.”

Daniel Jones threw for 249 yards and a touchdown for the Giants (0-2). He also ran for 95 yards and a TD.

For most of the night, it was Washington’s highly touted defense that wasn’t pulling its weight. New York scored on its first four possessions of the second half, but after the Giants went up 26-20, Heinicke needed just 17 seconds to put Washington ahead.

J.D. McKissic slipped downfield for a 56-yard reception, and then Ricky Seals-Jones outjumped Adoree’ Jackson in the corner of the end zone for a 19-yard TD that put Washington up 27-26.

The Giants had to punt after that, but as Washington was trying to run out the clock, James Bradberry picked off a pass by Heinicke, giving the Giants the ball at the Washington 20.

Washington’s defense forced a field goal, giving Heinicke another chance. Then the penalty on Lawrence gave Hopkins his extra opportunity.

“It’s going to be a tough lesson,” Giants coach Joe Judge said. “I’m not going to put this on Dexter.”

After struggling to stop Justin Herbert and the Chargers last weekend, Washington’s defense had its problems again at the start of this game. New York went 79 yards in 11 plays the first time it had the ball, taking a 7-0 lead on a 6-yard run by Jones.

After Washington tied it on Heinicke’s 11-yard scoring pass to Terry McLaurin, Jones broke free for what initially looked like a 58-yard touchdown run. That play was shortened by a holding penalty, however, and the Giants settled for a field goal.

Washington took a 14-10 lead on a 2-yard TD run by McKissic in the final minute of the half.

Jones found Darius Slayton for a 33-yard TD in the third quarter that put New York ahead 20-14.

MISSED CHANCES

Washington’s biggest defensive breakdown wasn’t punished. With the Giants up 23-20 in the fourth quarter, Slayton was all alone behind the defense, but the pass bounced off his outstretched hands.

That play — and the penalties on the final field goal and the long run by Jones — will likely haunt the Giants during their long break before the next game.

“It’s a pretty tough one. You give it your all and fight and it comes down the tail end,” Giants receiver Sterling Shepard said. “See that first one miss and you see those flags it’s not a fun feeling at all.”

The Giants had 11 penalties for 81 yards. Washington had nine for 80 — and some of those were costly, too.

PERFECT AGAIN

Gano has now made 35 consecutive field goals, the longest active streak in the NFL. His five field goals Thursday included kicks from 47, 52 and 55 yards.

INJURIES

Giants: OL Nick Gates was carted off with a broken leg in the first quarter. Gates, normally a center, played guard Thursday after New York put Shane Lemieux on injured reserve.

Daniel Jones threw for 249 yards and a touchdown for the Giants (0-2). He also ran for 95 yards and a TD.

For most of the night, it was Washington’s highly touted defense that wasn’t pulling its weight. New York scored on its first four possessions of the second half, but after the Giants went up 26-20, Heinicke needed just 17 seconds to put Washington ahead.

J.D. McKissic slipped downfield for a 56-yard reception, and then Ricky Seals-Jones outjumped Adoree’ Jackson in the corner of the end zone for a 19-yard TD that put Washington up 27-26.

The Giants had to punt after that, but as Washington was trying to run out the clock, James Bradberry picked off a pass by Heinicke, giving the Giants the ball at the Washington 20.

Washington’s defense forced a field goal, giving Heinicke another chance. Then the penalty on Lawrence gave Hopkins his second chance.

Washington: DT Matt Ioannidis left in the first half with a knee injury but returned to the game.

UP NEXT

Giants: New York returns home to face the Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 26.

Washington: Two straight road games await Washington, with the first coming Sept. 26 against the Buffalo Bills.

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