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Tokyo wraps up 2020 Olympics in subdued closing ceremony – Al Jazeera English

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Tokyo doused its Olympic flame on Sunday in a ceremony that echoed the restraint of the games held without spectators and transformed by the global pandemic, dazzling sport and deeply personal turmoil.

After postponing the Tokyo 2020 Games for a year, organisers said the event would serve as a symbol of world triumph over the pandemic. But with strict pandemic countermeasures and as COVID-19 variants have surged back around the world, the Olympics fell short of the triumph and financial windfall Japan had wanted.

The ceremony, although lustreless, gave athletes something of a glimpse of everyday Tokyo life as the Olympic Stadium was transformed into a park with grass, buskers and BMX riders.

The scene was meant so the visitors could “experience Tokyo”, organisers said, a poignant reminder of the many restrictions of the games.

It was a duly odd ending to an unprecedented event. Japan is now saddled with a $15bn bill, double what it initially expected, and with no tourist boom.

The president of the International Olympic Committee thanked the Japanese people and acknowledged the difficulty of staging the games during the pandemic.

“For the first time since the pandemic began, the entire world came together,” Thomas Bach said. “Nobody has ever organised a postponed games before.”

Public anger over the pandemic response and a slow-to-start vaccine rollout have badly damaged Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s standing. Public opinion polls showed most Japanese opposed holding the games during the pandemic.

Still, organisers appear to have prevented the Tokyo Games from spiralling into a COVID-19 super-spreader event, notable given that some 50,000 people came together amid the pandemic.

Fireworks are seen from outside the stadium during the closing ceremony from the Shibuya Sky observation deck [Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters]

In a sign of the measures, winners accepted their prizes from trays, putting the medals around their own necks, although social-distancing protocols such as preventing hugging were largely ignored throughout the games.

While the bubble – the set of venues and hotels to which Olympic visitors were largely confined – appeared to hold, elsewhere some things fell apart. Fuelled by the Delta variant of the virus, daily infections spiked to more than 5,000 for the first time in Tokyo, threatening to overwhelm its hospitals.

Japan’s record medal haul also helped to take out some of the stings for organisers. The United States finished top of the tally with 39 gold medals, one more than rivals China at 38 and Japan at 27.

The games also showcased the Olympics’ push for more diversity.

For the first time, a victory ceremony was held for both the women’s and men’s marathon events. The Kenyan anthem filled the 68,000-capacity stadium twice, for gold medallists Peres Jepchirchir and Eliud Kipchoge. And when they came, the games themselves provided plenty of high drama.

Fireworks explode as a sign that says ‘Thank You’ is displayed at the end of the closing ceremony [Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters]

In a moment more reminiscent of the Cold War, Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya refused to board a flight home after she was taken to the airport against her wishes. She has since sought refugee status in Poland.

US superstar gymnast Simone Biles shocked the world when she pulled out of five of her six events, including abruptly abandoning the women’s team final after attempting just one vault, citing concerns for her mental and physical health.

Her frank admission, combined with earlier comments by Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka, brought a sharp focus on issues of athletes’ mental health.

In athletics, Italy provided a different kind of shock with their amazing run. Their wins included a stunning gold in the men’s sprint relay, taking their athletics gold tally to five.

In swimming, a US team without 23-time Olympic gold medallist Michael Phelps still ended the meeting on top of the medals table.

Capping five years of intense preparations for athletes, some of them stretched out on the grass laid down in the stadium. Some appeared to relax as they watched a volley of fireworks light up the Tokyo sky.

For the first time ever, the closing ceremony featured live celebrations from the next host city as the people of Paris welcomed the handover of the Olympic flag.

In a pre-recorded video, French astronaut Thomas Pesquet performed the French national anthem on his saxophone – in zero gravity – from the International Space Station as a symbol of the Olympics’ universality, and jets released blue, white and red smoke – the colours of the French flag – over the skies of the capital.

French President Emmanuel Macron was filmed on the top floor of the Eiffel Tower reciting the newly updated Olympic slogan “higher, faster, stronger, together”.

The evening concluded at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo with a final flurry of fireworks and the word “Arigato” – Japanese word for thank you – lighting up the night sky.

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Cardinals win thriller after Vikings miss last-second field goal – TSN

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GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona’s Jordan Hicks didn’t dare turn around as Minnesota’s potential game-winning field goal floated toward the uprights. Instead, he watched the videoboard for a moment and then locked eyes with Ezekial Turner, who had been knocked to the turf, his expression slowly turning to disbelief.

The Cardinals were 2-0. After being really good in a season-opening win last week, they enjoyed a little good fortune in Week 2.

Kyler Murray threw for 400 yards and three touchdowns, and the Cardinals beat the Vikings 34-33 on Sunday after Greg Joseph missed a 37-yard field goal wide right in the final seconds.

“I’d rather be lucky than good sometimes,” Cardinals tight end Maxx Williams said. “We got the ‘W’ with that missed field goal and I’m gonna celebrate it. It’s hard to be 2-0 in this league, it’s hard to win games in this league.

“It doesn’t matter how it happens.”

It was a fitting end to a seesaw game that saw the lead change hands eight times. The dizzying offensive pace — Arizona had a 24-23 halftime lead — slowed considerably in the final minutes, and there were no touchdowns in the final quarter.

Murray also ran for a touchdown and threw two costly interceptions, including one that was returned for a score. But there were a lot more good moments than bad.

“The game is really slowing down for him,” Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “He’s doing stuff that he did at the collegiate level where he’s very confident in legs and moving around, extending plays.”

The Cardinals looked as if they were about to lose before Joseph’s last-second miss. He made two 52-yard field goals earlier in the game, giving no indication he’d have trouble pushing the Vikings to a win.

It’s another dispiriting setback for the Vikings (0-2), who lost in overtime at Cincinnati last weekend. Kirk Cousins threw for 244 yards and three touchdowns while Dalvin Cook ran for 131 yards on 22 carries.

Minnesota’s Nick Vigil returned an interception 39 yards for a touchdown on the second play of the third quarter, jumping in front of a pass Murray intended for Rondale Moore. It gave the Vikings a 30-24 lead.

Murray shook off the mistake and led the Cardinals on an eight-play, 75-yard drive capped by a 9-yard touchdown pass to veteran A.J. Green. It was Green’s first touchdown for the Cardinals and gave them a 31-30 lead.

The teams traded field goals in the fourth, with Matt Prater‘s 27-yard kick giving Arizona a 34-33 lead with 4:25 left.

It looked as if another field goal would decide the game, but Joseph’s kick drifted right as the Cardinals celebrated. Joseph made a clutch 53-yard field goal last week to push the game to overtime.

It didn’t work out this time.

“I felt good about that kick,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “I knew he had missed the extra point earlier but he has been kicking good, we are indoors, perfect surface. I am thinking this should be an easy one here.”

Arizona led 24-23 at the break after Prater booted a franchise-record 62-yard field goal as time expired in an action-packed first half.

“I thought the end of the half was a huge swing,” Kingsbury said. “Matt hits a 62-yarder that gives us that momentum and we were able to hang on at the end. It was good. Week 1 we didn’t face adversity. We faced a bunch today and still found a way to get it done.”

Murray scampered out of the pocket late in the second quarter, spinning away from two defenders before finding a wide-open Moore for a 77-yard touchdown pass, giving the Cardinals their first lead at 21-20.

The Vikings’ secondary moved toward the line of scrimmage when Murray started scrambling and didn’t see Moore, who had settled behind the defense and didn’t have a defender within several yards. Moore — a rookie who was a second-round draft pick out of Purdue — finished with 114 yards receiving.

Minnesota responded with a quick drive downfield that was capped by Joseph’s 52-yard field goal.

The Vikings scored on just the second play of the game when Cousins found a wide-open K.J. Osborn for a 64-yard touchdown. There appeared to be a miscommunication in the Cardinals secondary on the play: Cornerback Byron Murphy stayed with Osborn for a few moments before stopping, and there wasn’t any help from the safeties deep.

DeAndre Hopkins caught a touchdown pass for the Cardinals. Osborn led the Vikings with 91 yards receiving.

BIG FOOT

Prater’s 62-yard field goal just before halftime nearly matched his NFL record of 64 yards that he set in 2013 while with the Denver Broncos.

The 37-year-old, two-time Pro Bowl kicker was acquired in the offseason as an upgrade for Zane Gonzales, who made some big kicks in 2020 but was also inconsistent.

Prater’s kick on Sunday had plenty of distance in the indoor setting, spitting the uprights with some room to spare.

PETERSON’S RETURN

Patrick Peterson returned to the desert after signing with the Vikings during the offseason. The three-time All-Pro played his first 10 seasons with the Cardinals and had 28 interceptions.

Peterson had a fairly quiet game, finishing with two tackles.

INJURIES

Vikings: Minnesota was without a handful of defensive contributors, including linebacker Anthony Barr (knee) and defensive end Everson Griffen (concussion).

Cardinals: Cornerback Marco Wilson (ankle) and right tackle Kelvin Beachum (ribs) both left the game with injuries.

UP NEXT

The Vikings play at home for the first time this season when they host the Seattle Seahawks.

The Cardinals travel to face the Jacksonville Jaguars. Three of Arizona’s first four games this season are on the road.

___

More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Lamar Jackson finally leads Ravens over Chiefs 36-35 – TSN

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BALTIMORE (AP) — With a vault and a jump pass, and all the confidence from his coach and teammates he could ask for, Lamar Jackson finally beat Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City.

Using his legs to rush for 107 yards and scoring twice, including flipping into the end zone for the winning score, Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens defeated the Chiefs 36-35 Sunday night.

Jackson was 0-3 against the Chiefs, and he needed all of his multiple skills to break through to hand Mahomes his first loss in September after 11 victories. The matchup of NFL MVPs — Mahomes in 2018, Jackson the next year — was a wild affair from the start.

And the Ravens needed a fumble by Clyde Edwards-Helaire as Kansas City was marching into field goal range to clinch it.

With Jackson leading the Ravens’ 251 yards rushing and throwing for 239 and a score, Baltimore ensured that all four AFC North teams would have 1-1 records. Kansas City, which allowed 481 yards and gained 405, also is 1-1 in the rugged AFC West.

Jackson had his ninth career 100-yard rushing game, tied with Michael Vick for most by a quarterback.

The dynamic Jackson twice got into the end zone to his right with dives — well, the last TD was more of a somersault.

“I landed on my butt,” he claimed, laughing.

Twice the Ravens misfired on 2-point conversions, but Jackson’s run for a first down on fourth-and-1 after Edwards-Helaire fumbled secured the victory.

“He (coach John Harbaugh) asked if we wanted to go for it,” Jackson said. “I said, `Hell yeah.’

“I said, `Man, I got to get this first down no matter what.”

Like a video game with no controller for defense, the teams moved up and down the field with little opposition. Most thrilling was Travis Kelce’s 46-yard slalom in which he avoided nearly the entire Baltimore defensive unit before falling into the end zone, exhausted.

But it was not enough because Mahomes finally threw an interception in September, to Tavon Young, which set up Jackson’s first touchdown run.

“We were strong and together and we kept that focus,” Jackson said, referring to the overtime loss at Las Vegas to open the season. “I know my team is going to look at me and I got to do it for my guys.”

The Chiefs broke a 14-14 tie with a precise drive late in the first half, sparked by a 20-yard screen pass to backup tight end Blake Bell. Darrel Williams ran it in from the 10 with 51 seconds to go.

That was enough time for Baltimore to reach field-goal range for Justin Tucker, who nailed a 43-yarder. The problem for the Ravens: Kansas City got the second-half kickoff.

Mahomes capped a quick 74-yard drive with a short pass to Byron Pringle, who eluded two tacklers for a 40-yard score and a 28-17 lead.

And the problem for the Chiefs was their defense, which was getting shredded — aside from Tyrann Mathieu’s interceptions — had to take the field. It completely lost Marquise Brown on a 42-yard jump pass TD four plays after Pringle scored.

“Lamar’s a heck of a football player,” Chiefs DE Frank Clark said. “He does everything that he can. … They took it. They came in, beat us in the rushing attack. We missed tackles.”

Of course, with Mahomes chucking the ball and guys like Kelce catching it, the Chiefs barely shrug in such circumstances. And Kelce’s highlight-reel touchdown restored the 11-point margin; he finished with seven catches for 109 yards.

Young’s pick — Mahomes said “It’s probably one of the worst interceptions I’ve probably ever had” — set up Baltimore near midfield and yet another quick drive was finished by Jackson’s sprint right and dive for a 2-yard score. But a 2-point conversion pass to Brown was negated by a penalty and the Ravens failed on the next try.

They didn’t miss the winning score when they got the chance to go ahead. That Jackson made like a gymnast added a superb twist to it all.

“I love being around this team,” Harbaugh said of his undermanned group. “I told them it would be an honor to be on the field with them. What makes me proud of these guys is that’s who we are and what we do.”

Mahomes was 24 for 31 for 343 yards and three TDs, with the interception.

BREATHLESS BEGINNING

Kansas City struck quickly — and with its defense. When receiver Sammy Watkins, a former Chief, slipped, Mathieu was there to grab Jackson’s second pass of the game. The 2020 All-Pro sped down the left side for a touchdown.

Baltimore answered right back on a 75-yard drive highlighted by Devonta Freeman’s 31-yard run. From the Chiefs 10, running back Ty’Son Williams was headed into the end zone when he fumbled. The ball popped into the air to teammate Devin Duvernay, who surged in to tie it.

So the Chiefs responded with a 92-yard drive capped by Demarcus Robinson beating Anthony Levine on a post pattern for a 33-yard score. Less than nine minutes in, it was 14-7.

Whew!

Mathieu’s second interception of the opening quarter ended another impressive Baltimore drive as Jackson threw into triple coverage. It didn’t help much as penalties put the Chiefs in a third-and-39 — and not even Mahomes Magic could handle that.

INJURIES

Baltimore, already ravaged by injuries, lost safety DeShon Elliott to a concussion and nose tackle Brandon Williams to a strained neck.

FANS ON HAND

For the first time since 2019, the Ravens had a full house for a home game. They did allow limited attendance for part of last season during the pandemic.

Two bands played outside the stadium and Ravens cheerleaders made an appearance in balmy weather beforehand. The crowd of 70,417 got plenty of excitement just before kickoff when Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis was introduced and did his customary dance on the field.

CENTURY RUNS

With their 251 yards rushing, the Ravens have 41 consecutive games with at least 100 yards on the ground. Pittsburgh holds the NFL record at 43 from 1974-77.

UP NEXT

Kansas City hosts the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.

Baltimore is at Detroit on Sunday.

____

More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Tom Brady throws for 276 yards and 5 TDs as Buccaneers rout Falcons – Sportsnet.ca

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TAMPA, Fla. — It’s good to be 2-0 with a franchise-best 10-game winning streak and an even more impressive run of nine straight 30-plus point performances in a victory.

The defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers insist, however, that they still haven’t played anywhere near up to their potential after pulling away in the fourth quarter to rout the Atlanta Falcons 48-25 on Sunday.

“I think we’ve got a lot to learn from,” coach Bruce Arians said. “It’s always better to learn from winning. I like the way we finished the game.”

Tom Brady threw for 276 yards and five touchdowns, and Mike Edwards returned two of Tampa Bay’s three interceptions for TDs as the Bucs scored 30-plus points in a victory for an NFL-record ninth straight time.

The 44-year-old quarterback was also part of teams with New England that scored at least 30 in eight straight wins in 2007 and 2010.

“We were a little loose with the ball. Some penalties at different times that knocked us out of some scoring drives. Some missed throws and missed reads. I certainly wish I had made a few better throws,” Brady said.

“But it’s good to get the win. 2-0,” the seven-time Super Bowl winner added. “There’s a lot to build on.”

Brady improved to 9-0 lifetime against the Falcons (0-2), who’ve lost seven in a row going back to last season, with three of those setbacks coming against the Bucs, who’ve outscored their NFC South rivals 124-62 over the past 10 quarters of those outings.

Rob Gronkowski caught a pair of TD passes for the third straight game, including the Super Bowl, as he and Brady continued to climb the career list for regular-season TDs by a passing duo with 88 — one behind Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates for second place. Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison are first with 112.

Mike Evans also scored on receptions of 3 yards and 1 yard, the latter set up by Shaquil Barrett’s third-quarter interception of Matt Ryan, who fell to 0-6 against teams led by Brady, who rallied New England from a 28-3 deficit to beat Atlanta in Super Bowl 51.

Ryan, who tossed TD passes to Calvin Ridley and Cordarrelle Patterson before running for a 2-point conversion to trim an 18-point deficit to 28-25 late in the third, threw a pair of interceptions that Edwards returned for fourth-quarter TDs that broke the game open.

“These guys kept coming back, back, back,” Arthur Smith, Atlanta’s first-year coach said. “It’s a shame. You get in there, it’s a three-point game and then it ends the way it does.

“When the score got out of hand, a lot of that was on the offence, right? You can almost put four of those touchdowns — two of them for sure, pick-6’s (on the offence),” Smith added. “Everybody feels sick when you see that box score, but there were some positives.”

Since trailing the Falcons 17-0 at halftime of their Week 15 meeting in Atlanta last December, Brady has thrown for 11 touchdowns vs. one interception in guiding the Bucs to three victories in a series that’s seen Tampa Bay win four of the past five meetings.

Gronkowski, who spent nine seasons with Brady in New England before coming out of retirement to rejoin his long-time teammate with the Bucs last year, scored on receptions of 20 yards and 1 yard in the first half.

Brady’s fifth TD pass — a 12-yarder to Chris Godwin with just over nine minutes remaining, put the Bucs over 30 points for a ninth straight game. Edwards scored on interception returns of 31 yards and 15 yards to finish the rout.

Brady completed 24 of 38 passes without an interception. He was sacked three times, losing a fumble on one of them.

Ryan finished 35 of 46 for 300 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.

“Got it to a three-point game, and we had some momentum, really did. Credit to them, they changed the tide,” Ryan said. “They did a good job in the fourth quarter putting us away. I think there’s things we can improve, there’s a lot of things we can correct.”

RING OF HONOUR

Former Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin was inducted into the team’s Ring of Honour during a halftime ceremony.

Kiffin, credited with being the architect of the Tampa-2 scheme, led the Tampa Bay defence for 13 seasons from 1996 to 2008. He joins four defensive stars from the 2002 Bucs, who won the Super Bowl — Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp, John Lynch and Ronde Barber — as members of the Ring of Honour at Raymond James Stadium.

Jon Gruden, Mike Alstott, Lee Roy Selmon, Jimmie Giles, John McKay, Doug Williams, Malcolm Glazer, Paul Gruber and Tony Dungy, who hired Kiffin in 1996, are also in the Ring of Honour.

INJURIES

Falcons: WR Russell Gage (ankle) left in the second quarter but returned in the second half. … CB A.J. Terrell (concussion) left in the second half and did not return.

Buccaneers: CB Carlton Davis III played after being listed as questionable with a sore hamstring. … WR/KR Jaydon Mickens left with a hip injury in the second half.

UP NEXT

Falcons: Will try to break a seven-game skid at the New York Giants next Sunday.

Buccaneers: Travel to the West Coast to face the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday in the first of two straight road games. Brady returns to New England to face the Patriots for the first time the following week.

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