Olympics Live Updates: Softball’s Return Begins the Games Ahead of the Opening Ceremony

Credit…Kazuhiro Fujihara/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

TOKYO — The first competitors of the Games started with a ball and ended with a house run.

Michelle Cox, the leadoff hitter for the Australian softball group, took a low pitch from Japan pitcher Yukiko Ueno in an empty stadium in Fukushima on Wednesday in the first aggressive act of the Tokyo Olympics.

The pitch — after a bit of pregame pageantry that included the introduction of a number of officers and dignitaries — formally kicked off an version of the Games that was years in the making and one yr delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

It was additionally the final offensive spotlight for Australia. Japan responded with a run of its personal in the backside of the first, two in the third and three in the fourth. And when Yu Yamamoto hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning, Japan’s lead was 8-1 and the mercy rule was invoked, ending the sport.

The sport, two days earlier than the opening ceremony, was the first of three in softball and a half-dozen in soccer that noticed the first athletes take the area in the Games. Japan and Australia bought the honor of going first; their sport at the Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium was to be adopted by matchups involving the United States and Italy and between Mexico and Canada.

Later on Wednesday, six matches — together with the United States’ opener in opposition to Sweden in Tokyo Stadium — had been to open the ladies’s soccer event.

It will not be unusual for Olympic competitors to start earlier than the opening ceremony, a consequence of a decent schedule and expanded tournaments that may require longer than the Games’ official 17-day window to finish.

Credit…Jorge Silva/Reuters

Cox, the first batter, made the most of her second in the Olympic highlight: She labored a full rely in opposition to Ueno after which beat out an infield single again to the pitcher.

Ueno, Japan’s starter, had a tough inning. After giving up a single to Cox, she walked a batter and hit the subsequent two with pitches. That allowed Cox to attain the sport’s — and the Games’ — first run.

But the hosts’ early nerves quickly disappeared, they usually steadily pulled away till, with one swing, Yamamoto sealed their victory.

Alicja Tchorz, who represented Poland at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, was one of the six swimmers sent home.
Credit…Tobias Schwarz/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

TOKYO — Six Polish swimmers had been despatched house from the Olympics this week after the nation’s swimming federation arrived in Japan with too many rivals.

Poland initially chosen 23 swimmers for the Tokyo Games however needed to trim its checklist to 17 primarily based on world swimming’s qualifying guidelines. Since the group had already arrived in Japan, that meant the disqualified swimmers — who had been feted on their departure and had taken the Olympic oath — needed to fly again to Warsaw on Sunday, solely days earlier than the opening ceremony.

One of the swimmers, Alicja Tchorz, expressed outrage at the fiasco in a Facebook post and demanded the resignation of the federation’s management.

“Imagine dedicating 5 years of your life and striving for another start at the most important sporting event,” wrote Tchorz, who swam for Poland at the 2012 and 2016 Games. “Giving up your private life and work, sacrificing your family, etc.”

Her frustrations had been amplified, she mentioned, upon studying “6 days before the grand finale, it turns out that you were denied your dreams because of the incompetence of third parties.”

In an interview after returning to Warsaw, she mentioned she and her teammates had been planning to file a lawsuit and demanding the elimination of the officers chargeable for the mistake. “The absolute minimum is the resignation of the board,” Tchorz mentioned. “Any dignity requires it.”

The different swimmers knowledgeable they might not compete had been recognized in information experiences and social media posts as Bartosz Piszczorowicz, Aleksandra Polanska, Mateusz Chowaniec, Dominika Kossakowska and Jan Holub.

A video shared on social media by a Polish journalist confirmed the swimmers who had been ordered to return house sharing hugs and saying goodbye to different members of the Polish delegation earlier than their departure last weekend.

In a lengthy statement explaining the error, the president of Poland’s swimming federation, Pawel Slominski, expressed remorse for the mistake but in addition tried to assign some of the blame to swimming’s qualifying guidelines and to Poland’s Olympic committee.

“I express great regret, sadness and bitterness about the situation,” Slominski mentioned in the assertion. “Such a situation should not take place, and the reaction of the swimmers, their emotions, the attack on the Polish Swimming Federation is understandable to me and justified.”

On Instagram, Chowaniec railed against “the incompetent people” main the swimming federation.

“I am deeply shocked by what happened and this is an absurd situation for me that should never have happened,” he wrote. “In fact, I hope to wake up from this NIGHTMARE eventually!”

Hector Velazquez, along with another teammate, tested positive for the coronavirus on Sunday. They are asymptomatic and isolating in their hotel rooms, the Mexican baseball federation said in a statement.
Credit…Greg Fiume/Getty Images

The Mexican nationwide baseball group is in quarantine after two gamers examined constructive for coronavirus forward of touring to Japan for the Tokyo Olympics, Mexican baseball federation officials announced.

Hector Velazquez and Sammy Solis, each of whom are 32-year-old pitchers, had been examined on Sunday in Mexico City as the group gathered to start observe and had been asymptomatic and isolating of their lodge rooms, the federation mentioned in a press release. As a outcome, nationwide federation officers mentioned observe on Monday was canceled and the relaxation of the group was quarantining in its lodge pending outcomes from additional testing.

Over the weekend, gamers and coaches reported to Mexico City and had begun coaching forward of their departure to Japan. Mexico’s first sport in the Olympics is scheduled for July 30, in opposition to the Dominican Republic, at Yokohama Baseball Stadium. Solis and Velazquez — each former Major League Baseball gamers — play for the identical group in Mexico’s high skilled league.

“Honored and excited to announce that I will be representing #TeamMexico at the Olympics in #Tokyo2020!!!!,” Solis said earlier this month, when the Mexican group was introduced. “Being named an Olympian is a lifelong dream! Time to chase that.”

The information was a blow for fifth-ranked Mexico, which had certified for the first time for the Olympics in baseball, a sport making its return to the Summer Games after a 13-year hiatus.

With video games starting on Wednesday and the opening ceremony on Friday, nearly 60 people connected to the Tokyo Games, from athletes inside the Olympic Village to Japanese residents working at the occasions, have examined constructive. Organizers are struggling to handle public nervousness as many hundreds extra athletes, coaches and different officers arrive in Japan for the Games.

The Mexican baseball group was the newest Olympic group to be disrupted by the virus. The United States’ males’s basketball, ladies’s 3×3 basketball and the ladies’s gymnastics groups have needed to reshuffle their rosters after athletes both examined constructive or entered virus well being and security protocols.

From protests and Covid-related bans on followers, be part of Times journalists for an unique digital occasion as we focus on what this second means for Tokyo 2020. Plus find out about the sports activities new to the Olympics by interviews with U.S. surfer Carissa Moore and Czech climber Adam Ondra. Click the button above to R.S.V.P.

Atsumi Mana of Japan during a practice this week. Japan and Australia’s game will be the first softball game in the Olympics after a 13-year hiatus.
Credit…Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

When the first pitch was thrown in a sport between Australia and Japan on Wednesday morning, softball followers round the world celebrated the return of their sport to the Olympic stage after a 13-year absence.

“We ARE back … SOFTBALL is back in the Olympics!” Natasha Watley, a two-time U.S. Olympic softball participant and a gold medalist in 2004, tweeted earlier than the sport. “I’ll be glued to the tv for the next week!”

Japan’s sport in opposition to Australia was the first contest forward of the opening ceremony and one of a number of softball video games and soccer matches scheduled earlier than the official begin. It started at Eight p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, with a sport between the U.S. and Italy scheduled to comply with at 11 p.m. and one between Mexico and Canada set for two a.m. Eastern on Wednesday.

The video games shall be broadcast on NBC Sports. (The video games will happen on Wednesday however will seem on U.S. tv beginning on Tuesday evening as a result of of the 13-hour time distinction.)

Among those that watching had been the former U.S. pitcher and Olympic gold and silver medalist Jennie Finch and her 8-year-old daughter Paisley. It was the first time her daughter, who additionally performs softball, would see her sport represented on the world’s greatest stage.

“I’m so excited for our sport and our game and the platform it has to be back in the Olympics,” Finch mentioned earlier than the sport, including that she was “excited for the athletes especially.”

Softball first grew to become an Olympic sport in 1996, and it appeared in every summer season Games by these in 2008 in Beijing, after which it was dropped.

“For it to be taken away, it was like, how can we go back 60 years?” Finch recalled considering at the time. “We’ve worked so hard to get our sport to where it is.”

But starting with the Tokyo Games, every Olympic host can suggest including sports activities with nationwide enchantment. Softball, together with baseball, each of that are common in Japan, were approved for competition in Tokyo.

For softball, the second is huge: It has a growing global footprint, and in the U.S., it’s a aggressive collegiate sport with no main league house. Last August, softball was the inaugural sport in a new pro league called Athletes Unlimited, however even that season was solely six weeks lengthy.

Credit…Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

The U.S. group, which captured three consecutive Olympic gold medals in 1996, 2000 and 2004 and a silver medal at the 2008 Games after falling to Japan, will make its fifth Olympic look in Tokyo. Cat Osterman, who was on the final two U.S. groups, is on this yr’s roster at age 38.

Still, there was some dissatisfaction across social media that the sport was being performed on a baseball area slightly than a softball area, which might be smaller with an infield solely composed of grime, slightly than a combination of grime and grass.

In each the 2004 Athens Games and the 2008 Beijing Games, the host cities constructed softball fields as half of their Olympics infrastructure.

“I don’t care what the field looks like, we’re happy it’s back & we’ve been waiting a very long time,” Danielle O’Toole Trejo, who performs for Mexico’s nationwide group and can be a participant in Athletes Unlimited, wrote on Twitter. “Our play WILL NOT change. We’re GOOD enough to adapt.”

The sport’s Olympic return, nonetheless, is bittersweet. There is no guarantee that softball shall be featured in one other Games.

“Our sport needs this,” Finch mentioned. “It’s crucial for our sport globally to be in the Olympic Games and have our presence and have the platform to showcase how great of a game it is.”

After the opening ceremony, the Tokyo Games will stretch across 16 days, culminating in the closing ceremony on Aug. 8.
Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

NBC will present greater than 7,000 hours of protection of the Tokyo Olympics throughout its platforms, together with NBC stations, cable channels, NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app.

The opening ceremony for the Olympics is scheduled for Friday evening in Tokyo. But the 13-hour time distinction with Tokyo means it is going to be Friday morning in the United States.

NBC could have a reside morning broadcast of the ceremony, beginning at 6:55 a.m. Eastern time. Savannah Guthrie, the anchor for “Today,” and NBC Sports’s Mike Tirico will host the ceremony.

Afterward, NBC can even broadcast a particular version of “Today” that features athlete interviews, adopted by an Olympic daytime present.

Similar to years previous, the community will air a packaged prime time model of the ceremony at 7:30 p.m. Eastern on Friday. Coverage can even be replayed once more in a single day for viewers who missed earlier broadcasts.

Though the opening ceremony is Friday, the first competitions start on Wednesday in Japan.

Softball, which is returning to the Olympics for the first time since 2008, kicks off the occasions with a match between Japan and Australia at Eight p.m. Eastern on Tuesday. (The sport begins in Japan on Wednesday at 9 a.m. Japan Standard Time.) The U.S. softball group can even play forward of the opening ceremony, going through Italy at 11 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday. Both video games will air on NBC Sports.

Another match going down earlier than the opening ceremony is the U.S. ladies’s soccer sport in opposition to Sweden, which shall be broadcast reside on NBC Sports at 4:30 a.m. Eastern on Wednesday.

In addition to NBC Sports, Olympic occasions shall be proven on the Golf Channel, NBC Olympics, NBC Sports Network, Telemundo and USA Network. Events can even be streamed on NBCOlympics.com, NBCSports.com and Peacock, the community’s streaming platform.

After the opening ceremony, the Tokyo Games will stretch throughout 16 days, culminating in the closing ceremony on Aug. 8.

Israel’s national baseball team is headed to the Olympics in Tokyo. On an American tour, the team recently played in Pomona, N.Y.
Credit…Gregg Vigliotti for The New York Times

Shortly earlier than the begin of a current exhibition sport, the members of Israel’s nationwide baseball group assembled alongside the third-base line at Maimonides Park in the Coney Island neighborhood of Brooklyn and changed their baseball caps with skullcaps in preparation for the singing of the Israeli nationwide anthem.

But just a few gamers knew sufficient Hebrew to sing alongside.

The group, at the moment on tour in New York, has solely 4 gamers who’re native to the nation. The relaxation of the 24-player roster principally consists of American gamers whose Jewish roots enable them below Olympic guidelines to play for the group. It’s additionally a ragtag assemblage of retired main leaguers, present minor leaguers and even some weekend warriors with day jobs.

Four years in the past, the group was ranked 48th in the world, nevertheless it shocked the baseball world by qualifying for the World Baseball Classic, making it into the event’s second spherical. In 2019, it continued its stunning run by qualifying for the Olympics.

Team Israel will compete in Tokyo in opposition to 5 different qualifying nations: the U.S., Japan, the Dominican Republic, South Korea and Mexico.

At Maimonides Park on July 11, some followers waved Israeli flags. Others wore hats and shirts bearing the Star of David. One fan wore a T-shirt exhibiting a rabbi slugging a baseball together with the phrases “Jew Crew,” a reference to the nationwide group, which was carrying crisp blue uniforms additionally that includes the Star of David.

The squad in all probability has extra followers in New York than in Israel, mentioned Peter Kurz, the group’s common supervisor.

Brandon Lakind and his buddy Cameron Johnson, highschool college students from Randolph, N.J., mentioned that they had been following the group.

“It’s crazy to see that they made the top six teams in the world,” Brandon mentioned. “That alone is pretty cool.”

Credit…Irene Rinaldi

It’s been a rocky highway to the 2021 Tokyo Games, which, after being delayed a yr by the pandemic, will now take place (beginning Friday) without any spectators. Uncertainty and controversy, and a rising quantity of Covid-19 cases in the metropolis, have more and more overshadowed the preparations for the Summer Olympics, and early occasions like the ceremonial torch relay have felt subdued.

But regardless of the circumstances, the Games will (virtually definitely) go on. Whether you’re a devoted Olympics fan or an informal viewer, these podcasts will get you in the temper.

This compelling new investigative podcast sequence tells the little-known true story of one of the greatest errors in Olympic historical past. Women’s gymnastics bought off to a tough begin at the 2000 video games in Sydney, Australia, marred by controversies over substance use and falsified ages — after which, throughout a contest vault occasion, issues actually bought bizarre. One by one, with the complete world watching, elite gymnasts stored falling off the vault, in ways in which had been embarrassing at finest and harmful at worst. By the time any individual found out what was occurring (no spoilers right here), the injury was accomplished. In this five-episode sequence, by interviews with athletes who had been there, Ari Saperstein delves into the weird again story of what occurred.

Starter episode: “Episode 1”

When a metropolis wins its bid to host the Olympics, the implications go method past the single summer season (or winter) when the ceremonies happened. Using the metropolis of Sydney as its check case, this six-episode present explores what occurs as soon as the final medal has been awarded and the crowds have dispersed. Twenty years after the Sydney Olympics, the journalist Mark Beretta interviews the organizers and officers who had been chargeable for fulfilling the pledge to make it “the greenest Games ever” and the way that call impressed city transformation and environmental progress all through Australia.

Starter episode: “How the Green Games Influenced a National and International Environmental Movement”

The first podcast from Team U.S.A. debuted lower than a yr in the past, in November of 2020, and it’s certain to whet your urge for food for the long-awaited Games. Hosted by Sasha Cohen, the 2006 Olympic silver medalist in determine skating, the present options weekly conversations with company who’re primarily fellow Olympians, together with a number of Tokyo-bound athletes like the gymnast Yul Moldauer, the Paralympic basketball participant Matt Scott and the softball participant Haylie McCleney. Because the present started throughout the pandemic, many of the interviews contact on topics like psychological well being and staying motivated in a time of uncertainty, that are simply as related to nonathletes. The present simply wrapped up its first season at the begin of July, however there are plans for it to return in the future.

Starter episode: “Tokyo Bound”

Olivia Breen, a Paralympic bronze medalist, in 2018.
Credit…Adrian Dennis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Olivia Breen, a two-time Paralympic world champion for Britain, mentioned she was “speechless” and “gobsmacked” when an official at the English Championships instructed her on Sunday that her competitors bottoms had been “too short” and “inappropriate” after she competed in an extended soar occasion.

In a tweet afterward, Breen wrote that she had been carrying these varieties of shorts, designed for competitors, for years and hoped to put on related ones when she competes in the Paralympics in Tokyo subsequent month.

After the episode, Breen questioned whether or not male athletes can be subjected to the identical scrutiny, becoming a member of an array of female athletes speaking out against uniform double standards that can lead to fines in opposition to ladies.

Breen mentioned that it was extraordinarily scorching on Sunday and that many male lengthy soar athletes took off their shirts however weren’t approached by any officers. But after her occasion, when Breen was chatting with a teammate, she mentioned an official requested to talk along with her.

“She was just like, ‘I think your briefs are too revealing, and I think you should consider buying a new pair of shorts,’” Breen mentioned. “My first response was, ‘Are you joking?’”

Breen, 24, has cerebral palsy, listening to loss and a few studying difficulties. She has gained gold twice at the I.P.C. World Championships — in the T38 lengthy soar in 2017 and the T35-38 100-meter dash relay in 2015 — and bronze in the 4×100-meter relay in the 2012 Paralympic Games.

Breen mentioned light-weight briefs — on this case, Adidas official competitors 2021 briefs, which she later posted a photo of on-line — gave her a bonus. The bottoms complied with rules, she mentioned, including that she filed a proper grievance to England Athletics, the group working the competitors.

Since posting about the episode, Breen mentioned she had heard from different feminine athletes who’ve had related experiences and mentioned she thought ladies had a proper to really feel comfy whereas competing.

“It just made me so angry,” Breen mentioned. “We shouldn’t be told what we can wear and what we can’t wear.”

England Athletics mentioned in a press release that it might examine the matter.

“The well-being of all participants in athletics is of the utmost importance, and everyone should feel comfortable to compete and participate in the sport,” the assertion mentioned.

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