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Tokyo Olympics Day 2: U.S. Collects 10 Medals, Second to China

todayJuly 26, 2021 1

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Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Sunday started with the first gold medal for the United States, won by Chase Kalisz in the men’s 400-meter individual medley. Ahmed Hafnaoui, 18, of Tunisia was the surprise winner of the men’s 400 free. Australia swam away with the women’s 4×100 relay, and the United States, with Simone Manuel swimming the anchor leg, won the bronze medal.

Simone Biles made her debut, but the American women’s gymnastics team was overshadowed by Russia. Biles even made some errors, flying out of bounds in the floor exercise and stumbling on her beam dismount.

After a shaky exhibition campaign that included two losses, the American men’s basketball team faltered again in its Olympic opener against France, 83-76.

After lighting the cauldron at the opening ceremony, Naomi Osaka dispatched Zheng Saisai in her first tennis match, 6-1, 6-4.

For the first time ever, there was skateboarding at the Olympics, with the men’s street competition, and the gold medal went to Yuto Horigome of Japan.

The United States won just its third gold medal in women’s fencing as Lee Kiefer won the foil event with a 15-13 victory over top-ranked Inna Deriglazova of Russia. The two previous golds were both in saber by Mariel Zagunis in 2004 and 2008.

Anastasija Zolotic won the first women’s taekwondo gold medal ever for the United States.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times
Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
Credit…James Hill for The New York Times
Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
Moustapha Fall of France dunks the ball over JaVale McGee.
Credit…Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

SAITAMA, Japan — The United States men’s basketball team fell to France, 83-76, in its opening game of the Olympics on Sunday night at Saitama Super Arena, remaining on unsteady footing after taking a rocky path to Tokyo.

The Americans shot only 36 percent and were outscored badly in the third quarter, 25-11, when they blew an 8-point halftime lead and fell behind for good.

Evan Fournier, who played for the Boston Celtics last season, led France with 28 points. Jrue Holiday, fresh off winning the N.B.A. title with the Milwaukee Bucks, scored 18 for the United States less than 24 hours after landing in Tokyo.

Since late June, when their 12-man roster was announced, the Americans have experienced multiple waves of upheaval.

Bradley Beal was removed from the roster and ruled out of the Olympics on July 15 after testing positive for the coronavirus. The next day, the team lost Kevin Love, who was struggling with a leg injury. Last week, Zach LaVine was forced to miss the team’s flight to Tokyo and had to join the group later in the week after being placed in virus-related protocols himself.

And the three players who appeared in the N.B.A. finals — Devin Booker, Khris Middleton and Holiday — did not join the team at their hotel in Tokyo until early in the morning on Sunday. U.S. Coach Gregg Popovich had indicated leading into the tournament that he would have to be ready to adjust playing time based on how players were dealing with jet lag and fatigue.

Personnel issues aside, the team had not looked great on the floor. It lost two consecutive exhibition games in Las Vegas, falling to Nigeria and Australia in a three-day span. Before those losses, the men’s national team had lost only two games in total out of 56 played since 1992.

Still, the United States remains the heavy favorite to win the tournament and collect the 16th gold medal in the program’s history.

Simone Manuel and Natalie Hinds of the U.S. after the race.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Follow our live coverage of swimming at the Tokyo Olympics.

TOKYO — The United States, with Simone Manuel swimming the anchor leg as a surprising substitute, won the bronze medal in the women’s 4×100-meter freestyle relay on Sunday.

Australia, the heavy favorite, won gold with a world-record time of 3:29.69, and Canada took the silver. The Americans finished in 3:32.81 when Manuel was beaten to the wall by Canada’s Penny Oleksiak.

Manuel was making her first appearance at the Tokyo Games, and much earlier than some had expected. She did not swim in the relay semifinals on Saturday and will not swim again until the individual 50-meter freestyle this weekend.

But after the United States finished a disappointing fifth in qualifying, Manuel, who had won gold in the relay and the 100 freestyle at the 2016 Rio Games, was drafted in to strengthen the team.

Questions had swirled about whether Manuel would swim in the event at all after she failed to qualify in the 100 free, her signature event, at the U.S. selection meet in June.

Her stunned expression after winning gold in the individual event at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio remains a lasting image from those Games. With that victory, Manuel became the first Black woman to win an individual Olympic swimming event.

But her failure to qualify in the individual event for Tokyo had been a shock, given that Manuel is the American record-holder in the event. Afterward, she revealed that she had been diagnosed with overtraining syndrome earlier in the year. Along with extreme fatigue, she had been experiencing depression and insomnia and had been required to step back from her normal, intense training routine.

“Even though the last couple of months haven’t been the greatest for me, I’ve trained really hard the past four and a half, five years, and eventually that hard work will show up,” said Manuel, who heard on Saturday night that she would be on the relay team. “I just have to keep trusting myself.”

Chase Kalisz after winning gold in the 400-meter individual medley at the Tokyo Aquatics Center on Sunday.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

TOKYO — After an opening day without a medal, the United States swim team got two in the first event of the day on Sunday. By lunchtime, Americans had collected a half dozen at the pool.

Chase Kalisz, 27, won the first — the first gold medal of the Games for the United States — in the men’s 400-meter individual medley, pulling away from the pack just after the halfway mark and cruising to victory in 4 minutes 9.42 seconds.

As Kalisz, who won silver in the event in 2016, exited the pool, he sprawled onto his back and held his head in his hands for several seconds.

“This is my lifelong dream,” Kalisz said. “I’ve accomplished everything else in the sport — world titles, N.C.A.A. titles, an American record — and this was the last thing I wanted to check off.”

Kalisz’s teammate Jay Litherland, 25, an American born in Osaka, Japan, won the silver, giving the Americans their first top-two finish in the event since Michael Phelps and Erik Vendt did so in 2004 in Athens.

But that was just the start. Kieran Smith soon added a bronze in the 400-meter freestyle, and Emma Weyant (silver) and Hali Flickinger (bronze) followed him onto the medals stand after finishing behind Yui Ohashi in the women’s 400-meter individual medley.

Ohashi’s medal, delivered with a brilliant breaststroke leg, was Japan’s first swimming gold. She walked away from the pool wiping away tears of joy.

The United States’ sixth medal was a bronze in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay.

Ahmed Hafnaoui, 18, of Tunisia, was the surprise winner of the men’s 400 freestyle.

Annamiek van Vleuten of Team Netherlands celebrates crossing the finishing line winning the silver medal on Sunday.
Credit…Tim De Waele/Getty Images

It was the crowning achievement of her cycling career. Except it wasn’t.

When 38-year-old Annamiek van Vleuten of the Netherlands crossed the finish line of the women’s cycling road race on Sunday, she threw her arms in the air, broke into a wide smile and celebrated her first gold medal. The problem? She wasn’t the first rider across the line.

That was Austria’s Anna Kiesenhofer, who had broken away much earlier in the race and coasted to a stunning, surprise victory. Kiesenhofer’s profile was so low and her breakaway so surprising, in fact, that as the main field lost track of her.

Later, in a blur of tactics and racing and fatigue, they reeled in one rider after another as they drove for the finish. But as they did, they apparently forgot that there was still one competitor ahead of them.

The real drama came just over a minute after Kiesenhofer crossed the line.

Van Vleuten, who had crashed spectacularly while leading late in the 2016 road race in Rio de Janeiro, burst away from the pursuing pack on Fuji International Speedway and set her sights on completing a career-defining comeback. Slowly extending her lead over the rest of what they all believed was the lead group, van Vleuten burst across the line unaware she was celebrating a silver medal, not a gold.

Unlike other top events on the professional circuit, riders in the Olympic road race are not allowed to communicate with their teams using radios. That may have left van Vleuten and a group of her Netherlands teammates, who were working together during the race, in the dark about the actual state of affairs in real time.

Only when she reached her coaches did van Vleuten learn that her gold was actually a silver.

“Yes, I thought I had won,” she said. “I was wrong.”

Yuto Horigome of Japan competing in the men’s street finals at Ariake Urban Sports Park on Sunday.
Credit…Alexandra Garcia/The New York Times

Skateboarding’s entry into the Olympics evolved into a tense can-you-top-this exhibition in the men’s street competition, as one world-class skateboarder after another did nuanced variations of tricks off the park’s biggest feature, a 12-stair drop with three different rails.

It was an all-or-nothing venture. Falls got zero points. Stuck landings earned scores to keep. Each trick ended either on the concrete in despair or on the skateboard in some shades of relief and elation.

That is where Yuto Horigome of Japan, the son of a Tokyo taxi driver, came back from a shaky contest start with back-to-back tricks that shot him to a gold medal, just eight miles from where he grew up.

It is where Nyjah Huston of the United States, the gold medal favorite and the biggest name in contest skateboarding, fell four times in a row, ending his hope to add an Olympic medal to his overstuffed trophy room.

It is where the two friendly rivals embraced at the end, in the heat of the searing midday sun at Ariake Urban Sports Park.

While Huston’s inability to medal was a surprise, it helped leave room for Jagger Eaton, a fellow American, to grab the bronze medal, behind Kelvin Hoefler of Brazil.

Result

37.18 pts
36.15 pts
35.35 pts
4 34.14 pts
5 32.87 pts
6 29.09 pts
7 26.1 pts
8 15.05 pts

Each athlete performed two timed runs through the skate park, hustling for 45 seconds on their own path through a vast course of ramps, stairs and rails. They then took turns trying five tricks of their choosing. A panel of judges scored each run and trick — seven scores in all — on a 10-point scale. The best four scores were added together.

Nerves seemed to jangle several top competitors at the start of the final, and clean runs were hard to find. Huston admitted to feeling the pressure, but said that landing technical tricks was a risky business.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I know I definitely let some people down, and I have no problem admitting that. But I’m human, you know.”

Hoefler, a veteran of big contests and the Street League Skateboarding series for much of the past decade, looked in command from the start, with back-to-back runs that gave him the midway lead.

Eaton, too, calmly planted two strong scores. And after a fall on his first run, Huston had the highest score in the finals on his second try, a 9.11, that lifted him into the top echelon before the skaters took turns performing five single tricks.

Bigger scores were on the way, but so was disappointment. Hoefler stumbled too many times to stay in contention for a gold medal, but hung on to silver. Eaton flicked away the pressure and sandwiched two high scores in the trick portion, enough to earn him bronze.

The final was a global affair, with eight skaters from six countries. Huston, who lives in Laguna Beach, Calif., and Eaton, from Mesa, Ariz., represented the United States. France also had two finalists, Vincent Milou and Aurelien Giraud, who had the best score in the preliminary heats.

Skateboarding has worked for decades to get into the Olympics, and the men’s street contest was the first of four at the Ariake Urban Sports Park. The women’s street skaters will compete on Monday, and men’s and women’s park will be contested in more than a week.

Ashleigh Barty, the No. 1 player on the women’s tennis tour, lost in the first round of the Olympic singles tournament.
Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

Naomi Osaka of Japan won her first match as a rare athlete to light an Olympic cauldron, but Ashleigh Barty of Australia is out of the Olympic singles tennis tournament.

Just two weeks after winning her first title at Wimbledon, the No. 1-ranked Barty fell in straight sets to Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain, 6-4, 6-3.

Under a broiling sun that combined with high humidity and temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, Barty never found her rhythm against the 24-year-old Spaniard. Barty saved two set points in the first set, and two match points while serving at 3-5 in the second set. But on Sorribes Tormo’s third chance, Barty netted a backhand volley, one final error in a 94-minute match that was filled with them.

Barty is No. 1 in the world and the favorite in any tournament she enters, but women’s tennis is a wide-open competition these days. She has often spoken about how there is so much depth on the women’s tour that every player can be pushed from the first match in any tournament.

That is exactly what happened Sunday at the Olympics, which can sometimes seem like the most random of all tennis competitions. Four years ago, Monica Puig of Puerto Rico, who has never made the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam, took the gold medal in the women’s tournament.

Barty struggled from the outset Sunday despite showing flashes of her world class form. The 10th game of the first set was the match in a nutshell. Facing two set points and trying to draw even in the opening set, Barty pasted the sideline with a high crosscourt backhand, then blasted another backhand on the next point onto the back edge of the baseline. For a moment, it looked like Barty was going to grind through the shaky start. But then she made two costly errors and Sorribes Tormo had the lead.

It was more of the same in the second set as Barty kept spraying balls wide and long and into the net, even on her patented slice backhand. She had a chance to take control of the set and break Sorribes Tormo’s serve in the sixth game, but she failed to convert her two break points. She would not win a game the rest of the way.

Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

Barty was not the only player of note to meet with an unfortunate end Sunday. Andy Murray of Britain, the former world No. 1 and the two-time gold medalist, pulled out of the singles competition with a nagging strain of his right quadriceps.

Murray will continue to compete for Britain in the men’s doubles tournament with Joe Salisbury. The pair won their first round match Saturday.

“I am really disappointed at having to withdraw but the medical staff have advised me against playing in both events,” Murray said. “So I have made the difficult decision to withdraw from the singles and focus on playing doubles with Joe.”

After Barty was finished, Osaka, another favorite in this tournament and fresh off her star turn lighting the Olympic cauldron, took center court and did not disappoint. Playing in a mostly empty stadium that had a smattering of about 100 members of the Japanese news media and other credentialed officials, Osaka dispatched Saisai Zheng of China 6-1, 6-4.

Osaka was dominant throughout the 97-minute match. She sprinted to a 5-0 lead, punishing Zheng with her serve and forehand. She won 69 points to just 47 for Zheng, fired six aces and never double faulted.

It was an impressive comeback match for Osaka, who has not played since her first-round win at the French Open. She then dropped out of that tournament, citing mental health issues, and skipped Wimbledon.

Osaka said she had kept the cauldron-lighting a secret since March, when officials asked her if she would do it. “I was happy and honored,” she said. “I’m very happy to be here and to be playing, especially in Tokyo.”

Barty will now head to North America for the summer hardcourt swing of the pro tour that concludes with the U.S. Open. Because of Australia’s strict rules related to travel during the coronavirus pandemic, she has been on the road since March and will not return home until the fall.

Simone Biles made several errors during qualifying.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

TOKYO — Simone Biles rolled her eyes. She shrugged her shoulders. She scrunched up her face and winced.

One look at her revealed all that you needed to know about how the U.S. women’s team fared on Sunday during qualifying at the Tokyo Games. And none of it was good for the team that had dominated the sport for more than a decade.

With uncharacteristic mistakes, including many by Biles, the best gymnast in history, the United States team finished behind Russia in qualifying. It wasn’t close, either, with more than a point’s difference between the countries.



Disappointing Dismount

It was a rare day of mistakes for Simone Biles, including on her beam routine, where she took several steps to gain control after her dismount.


Photographs by Bedel Saget/The New York Times; composite image by Jeremy White

The Americans can still come back on Tuesday in the final to win the gold medal because the slate is wiped clean for that event. In that competition, the U.S. will try to keep its winning streak alive. The team has not lost a world championship or an Olympics team event since 2010, and is trying to win its fourth straight Olympic gold medal.

“This might be a great awakening for us, and we’ll take advantage of it,” Tom Forster, the women’s national team coordinator, said after congratulating Russia for its performance. He said the Russians edged the Americans because they were “cleaner and had more depth,” and that the U.S. team made mental mistakes because of nerves.

Uta Abe after she won the Women’s 52kg Final Judo event.
Credit…Jeon Heon-Kyun/EPA, via Shutterstock

Uta and Hifumi Abe are perhaps Japan’s most popular sibling rivalry. The top-ranked judoka became the first brother-sister pair to compete in the same tournament when they fought in the world judo championships in 2017. They both became world champions the next year. Uta repeated as champion in 2019; Hifumi finished third.

On Sunday the pair added an even bigger trophy to their joint collection: They both won Olympic gold medals.

Uta Abe, three years younger than her brother, went first. She and Amandine Buchard of France, who was ranked second in the world in the under 52 kilogram category, fought to a draw in the first four minutes. Abe finally found an opening four minutes into extra time when she pulled down Buchard for an ippon. She pumped her fists and cried with joy.

“All the hard work I put into judo the past four years was all for this moment, so I feel like all my efforts have finally paid off,” she said afterward.

About 30 minutes later, Hifumi Abe beat Vazha Margvelashvili of Georgia for the gold medal in the under 66 kilogram category. About two minutes into their fight, Abe scored a point for a waza-ari, which was awarded because he threw down Margvelashvili. After time expired, he raised his index finger in the air.

“I think we were able to repaint and engrave our names into history by becoming gold medalists together,” he said after his victory.

Credit…Franck Fife/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Another pair of brother-sister judoka, Ben and Megan Fletcher of Ireland, are also competing at the Tokyo Games, but they are not nearly as successful.

The Abes’ medals were the culmination of a nearly two-decade journey. They grew up in Kobe, where their father is a firefighter and their mother owns a cafe. Both started judo at a young age and have fed off each other’s competitiveness. Their father helped them with their conditioning.

Hifumi Abe began practicing at 6 years old after watching judo on television. At 8, he lost to a girl in the same age group. Humiliated, he put in the extra work with his father. By junior high school, he was practicing up to six hours per day and soon became a national champion.

He avoids regular weight training because he said it stiffens his muscles and increases the risk of injury, but his muscular build has made him a hit with some Japanese women.

For years, Uta chased Hifumi’s success. She took up the sport at the age of 5 because she wanted to practice with her brothers. Her father wanted her to learn to play the piano, but she stuck with judo. By high school, she was a national champion and set her sights on competing at the Tokyo Games.

Uta’s self-confidence grew after she became a world champion in 2018. The next year, she successfully defended her world title while Hifumi finished third: She had finally caught up to her brother. In June, she said she wanted to become so strong that people would call her “a monster.”

The Abes vowed to win gold medals in Tokyo. Now they have.

The American golfer Bryson DeChambeau at the Masters tournament in Augusta, Ga., in April.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

The men’s golf tournament at the Olympics will begin on Thursday without either of the last two U.S. Open winners.

The American golfer Bryson DeChambeau, the 2020 U.S. Open winner, and Jon Rahm of Spain, the 2021 winner, both pulled out of the Olympics on Sunday after testing positive for the coronavirus.

In June, Rahm had been forced to pull out of the Memorial Tournament with a six-stroke lead after a positive test. At the time he said he had been vaccinated but had not completed the 14-day period after which the protection becomes robust.

The announcement of his latest positive test came from the Spanish Olympic Committee and was brief. It did not speculate on why or how Rahm had tested positive a second time. It did say that two earlier tests had been negative.

DeChambeau will be replaced by Patrick Reed, the 2018 Masters winner. Rahm, currently the No. 1 ranked golfer in the world, will not be replaced on the Spanish team.

DeChambeau tested positive as part of normal testing procedures for all athletes and others heading to Tokyo for the Games, U.S.A. Golf said.

“I will now focus on getting healthy, and I look forward to returning to competition once I am cleared to do so,” DeChambeau said in a statement.

The rest of the men’s team is Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele and Collin Morikawa, the reigning British Open champion. The men’s tournament begins on Thursday.

Golf returned to the Olympics in 2016 after a more than 100-year absence. Justin Rose of Britain won the gold medal for the men and Inbee Park of South Korea for the women.



Athletes who have tested positive for the coronavirus

Scientists say that positive tests are expected with daily testing programs, even among the vaccinated. Little information on severity has been released, though public reports suggest that cases among athletes have generally been mild or asymptomatic. Some athletes who have tested positive have not been publicly identified.


July 23

Jelle Geens

Triathlon

Belgium

Simon Geschke

Road cycling

Germany

Frederico Morais

Surfing

Portugal

July 22

Taylor Crabb

Beach volleyball

United States

Reshmie Oogink

Taekwondo

Netherlands

Michal Schlegel

Road cycling

Czech Republic

Marketa Slukova

Beach volleyball

Czech Republic

July 21

Fernanda Aguirre

Taekwondo

Chile

Ilya Borodin

Russian Olympic Committee

Swimming

Russian Olympic Committee

Amber Hill

Shooting

Britain

Candy Jacobs

Skateboarding

Netherlands

Pavel Sirucek

Table tennis

Czech Republic

July 20

Sammy Solis

Baseball

Mexico

Sonja Vasic

Basketball

Serbia

Hector Velazquez

Baseball

Mexico

July 19

Kara Eaker

Gymnastics

United States

Ondrej Perusic

Beach volleyball

Czech Republic

Katie Lou Samuelson

Three-on-three basketball

United States

July 18

Coco Gauff

Tennis

United States

Kamohelo Mahlatsi

Soccer

South Africa

Thabiso Monyane

Soccer

South Africa

July 16

Dan Craven

Road cycling

Namibia

Alex de Minaur

Tennis

Australia

July 14

Dan Evans

Tennis

Britain

July 13

Johanna Konta

Tennis

Britain

July 3

Milos Vasic

Rowing

Serbia


Shi Tingmao and Wang Han of China won gold in the women’s three-meter springboard on Sunday, the first synchronized diving event of the 2020 Games.
Credit…Odd Andersen/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Few Olympic sports are dominated the way diving is by China. Over the past five Games, the country has won 15 of 20 possible individual gold medals.

But even that impressive statistic is topped by China’s record in synchronized diving: an astonishing 16 of 20 possible golds since events were added in 2000.

So it came as no surprise when China won the first synchronized diving event of the 2020 Games, the women’s three-meter springboard, on Sunday.

It was the country’s fifth consecutive win in this event, but the first without the legendary Wu Minxia, who won four straight with three different partners. (She added an individual Olympic gold, silver and bronze, too.)

Wu’s partner in 2016, Shi Tingmao, was this time joined by Wang Han as China’s dynasty continued.

Shi won the 2016 individual springboard title as well, and she is most likely to repeat in that event next Sunday (unless she is beaten by her teammate Wang, of course).

Synchronized diving — which retains its name despite synchronized swimming becoming artistic swimming — requires the skills of individual diving but also the impeccable timing to match a teammate move for move. Six judges rate the execution of each dive, while five others evaluate its synchronization.

As divers stand on their boards, one quietly counts to perfect the timing. The divers begin their simultaneous bounces on the springboard and then dive.

Shi and Wang mirrored each other in dive after dive, always looking, well, fully in synch. While a few teams stayed in touch on the first two dives, China pulled away once the maneuvers grew more difficult. Their top score came on the last dive of five, an inward 2 ½ somersault in the pike position.

Canada won the silver, and Germany the bronze. The U.S. team of Alison Gibson and Krysta Palmer placed eighth in the field of eight.

Three synchronized diving events remain. Expect to see a lot of China at the top of the standings.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

It is a quintessential Olympic moment. After every event, after the Olympic champion’s national anthem is played, the winners of the silver and bronze medals are welcomed to the top step of the medals stand. There, they pose — together with the winner — for a photograph.

And this year, it’s that last bit that has caused a problem, and a mid-Games rules change.

Worried that medal-winning athletes were openly violating strict coronavirus protocols by removing their masks and posing with fellow competitors after events, the International Olympic Committee on Sunday announced a modification to those ceremony procedures.

Starting Sunday, medalists were allowed to pose — briefly, and unmasked and socially distanced from their rivals — for photos.

The victory ceremony protocol was adapted, the I.O.C. said, “to allow athletes to have an image for the media that captures their faces and their emotions during a unique moment in their sporting career, as well as to celebrate the achievements of all the medalists together.”

But they, and the photographers, need to be quick about it. Under the new rules, the brief window for photos is not to exceed 30 seconds, and “at no point during this limited time should the athletes be invited to join each other on the gold-medal platform. They must remain on their dedicated platform respecting the original distance.”

Only after a signal from an Olympic official will the medalists be allowed to join the winner on the highest podium for a second set of images. Those, the I.O.C. said, must take place with masks on.

Kimia Alizadeh, in blue, faced off against Nahid Kiyani of Iran on Sunday. Alizadeh defected to Germany from Iran last year.
Credit…Javier Soriano/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In 2016, she became a teenage hero in her home country after becoming the first woman to win an Olympic medal for Iran. On Sunday, Kimia Alizadeh was a defector, part of a refugee team, with a draw pitting her against an Iranian opponent.

Alizadeh, the bronze medalist in the 57-kilogram taekwondo division at the Rio Games, made short work of beating Nahid Kiyani in a bout that was overlaid with far more political intrigue than sporting tension.

The fighters’ entrances highlighted how Alizadeh’s life had changed since she left Iran last year to start a new life in Germany. Alizadeh, who had once complained about being forced to wear a head scarf, marched confidently into the auditorium, wearing her hair loose and showing her fist to a television camera that was trained on her. Kiyani, meanwhile, was accompanied by a female member of her entourage; both women wore head scarves.

Alizadeh, the taller of the two, dominated throughout before recording an 18-9 victory. She and Kiyani, who are close friends, embraced on the court. Alizadeh then walked over to acknowledge the Iranian coaching staff.

In her second contest on Sunday, Alizadeh scored an impressive victory, defeating Jade Jones, the two-time defending Olympic champion from Britain, 16-12. She later made it to the bronze medal match but lost, falling short of winning the first medal for the refugee team.

Alizadeh’s medal in Rio instantly turned her into an overnight celebrity in Iran, where female sports stars are a rarity. She announced her defection in an Instagram post in 2020, excoriating the Iranian government for oppressing women.

“They took me wherever they wanted. I wore whatever they said. Every sentence they ordered me to say, I repeated. Whenever they saw fit, they exploited me,” she said in the post, which was accompanied by a black-and-white photo of herself in a head scarf, holding her head in her hands while sporting her taekwondo uniform.

A few months before her defection, Saeid Mollaei, a judoka, also left Iran for Germany after claiming he had been pressured to throw a bout to avoid the possibility of facing an Israeli opponent. Mollaei is representing Mongolia at the Tokyo Games.

Mandy Bujold of Canada, left, in action against Nina Radovanovic of Serbia.
Credit…Luis Robayo/Reuters

TOKYO — Mandy Bujold’s return to the Olympics lasted only three rounds. Her nine-minute fight wasn’t close. She had little response to the flurry of punches from Nina Radovanovic, 29, of Serbia. Bujold lost a unanimous decision on points. Her Olympic journey, and most likely her boxing career, were over.

Yet after the fight, Bujold, the 11-time Canadian flyweight champion, declared victory anyway. The battles she fought just to get to Tokyo, she said, were bigger than any of her 67 career wins in the ring.

Bujold, 34, was unable to win a spot in the Tokyo Games because the qualifying tournaments were canceled because of the coronavirus. In its place, the International Olympic Committee chose athletes based on their performances at several tournaments held as far back as 2018. But Bujold did not box at all in those events because she was pregnant and then in postpartum.

Angered that her pregnancy was being held against her, she asked the I.O.C. to recognize her ranking from before, when she was No. 8 in the world and second in the Americas. After the request was rejected — the I.O.C. said it was unwilling to make exceptions lest others ask — Bujold appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. To the surprise of many Olympic-watchers, Bujold won, allowing the Canadian Olympic Committee to add her to the national team, which it did.

“People said that one person couldn’t take on the I.O.C.,” Bujold said after her loss on Sunday. “I think we’re setting the stage for women to come.”

Bujold fought only seven times after she returned to the ring in late 2019, winning six times. The 18-month layoff that followed, though, showed on Sunday. Radovanovic, who had fought as recently as June, quickly took control, landing a series of blows that knocked Bujold off balance. The result was never in doubt.

Bujold made no excuses for her performance, though she said the lack of fans at the Kokugikan, the national sumo arena, made the fight feel like a sparring session rather than the Olympics.

But Bujold also seemed at peace with the result, perhaps even relieved that what she called a “really big roller-coaster” ride was over. The 2006 Canadian boxer of the year, Bujold won two Pan American Games titles and made a trip to the 2016 Rio Games, where she was favored to win a medal before getting sick and losing in the quarterfinals.

“I’m proud I could call myself a two-time Olympian,” she said.

Bujold said there was a bigger story to tell about her battle with the I.O.C., something she promised to reveal in a book she is writing. She also plans to tell her daughter, Kate, who is almost 3 years old, about her journey. During an interview with a Canadian television network, Bujold put her hands together in the shape of a heart, a signal to her absent daughter in lieu of blowing a kiss.

Later, she brushed away tears. “I wanted to be able to give it a shot,” she said, “but I didn’t pull it out.”

“This was a win for women,” she added a few minutes later. “Unfortunately, it didn’t happen in the ring, but out of the ring.”

April Ross of the United States powered the ball past Wang Xinxin of China.
Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

TOKYO — April Ross and Alix Klineman, an American power duo in beach volleyball, started their Olympics with a win on Sunday, defeating the Chinese team of Xue Chen and Wang Xinxin, 21-17, 21-19.

Ross, 39, has a silver medal from the 2012 Games, when she partnered with Jennifer Kessy, and a bronze medal from 2016 with Kerri Walsh Jennings, the three-time Olympic champion. She is hoping to add gold to her collection with Klineman, 31, who switched to beach volleyball in 2017 after a career in indoor volleyball.

The match would probably have been more enjoyable had it been played on an actual beach: At Shiokaze Park, it was so hot that at least one reporter’s laptop stopped working, and the rows and rows of empty seats in the stadium blocked most of the breeze from Tokyo Bay.

An early ace by Ross, one of the most powerful servers in the sport, set the tone for the match, and the Americans were in control for most of the morning. Klineman’s defense, both at the net and on the run, prevented the Chinese team from gaining much momentum.

Ross and Klineman pumped each other up, yelling “Alix!” and “April!” after big plays. “Come on, Alix, let’s go, come on,” Ross said as she sent the ball to Klineman while making a save in the sand.

Xue and Wang hung in during the second set, and a block by Wang put the Chinese up 19-18. But two powerful attacks by Ross reversed that deficit, and Klineman scored the game-winner to give the Americans their first victory of this tournament.

Credit…Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

When the four members of the German women’s gymnastics team walked onto the competition floor on Sunday evening wearing sparkly ankle-length unitards, they were sending a message that the country’s gymnastics federation has characterized as “against sexualization in gymnastics.”

The Germans first competed in long-legged unitards, as opposed to the leotards that are common in women’s gymnastics, at the European championships in April. At the time, one team member, Elisabeth Seitz, said the choice set an example “to all gymnasts who may feel uncomfortable or even sexualized in normal suits.”

“Every gymnast should be able to decide in which type of suit she feels most comfortable,” Seitz, 27, added.

There is no rule in women’s gymnastics against unitards, and some athletes wear them for religious reasons. Men typically compete in a singlet and looser pants, and many women prefer to train in shorts rather than bikini-cut leotards.

The Olympics and practically all professional sports have seen significant viewership declines during the coronavirus pandemic.
Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

About 17 million people watched NBC’s telecast of the opening ceremony, the network said on Friday, in what is believed to be the lowest number of viewers on record for an opening ceremony for a Summer Olympics. The opening ceremony for the 2016 Rio Games was watched by 26.5 million people, and 28.3 million watched for the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.

The viewership number is a preliminary one using NBCUniversal’s proprietary total audience delivery metric, which combines viewers watching on television and via streaming. The more standard measurement by Nielsen will not be available until Monday.

NBC tried putting a brave face on the figure, noting specific statistics like it was the “most-watched Friday night on broadcast TV” in over three years, and that online streaming was up sharply from previously Olympics.

The Olympics join practically all professional sports in seeing significant viewership declines during the coronavirus pandemic. For a variety of reasons, such as fewer people watching television and an altered calendar, people have not been as interested in watching sports during the pandemic.

Nor are they eager to watch other live events, one of NBC’s official Twitter accounts was quick to note. Awards show viewership has also plummeted.

Romania’s Larisa Andrea Lordache performing on the floor in April at the women’s qualification round of the 2021 European Artistic Gymnastics Championships in the St. Jakobshalle in Basel, Switzerland.
Credit…Alexandra Wey/EPA, via Shutterstock

In October 2014, a video of the Romanian gymnast Larisa Iordache went viral. She was saving Simone Biles from a bee.

They were both standing on the podium of the world championships in China to collect their medals — a gold for Biles, a silver for Iordache — when the bee buzzed in Biles’s bouquet. Iordache pointed to it. Screaming, Biles threw the bouquet down and ran toward Iordache as if seeking protection. The bee flew off.

But the clip, which has been viewed more than three million times, showed something more than a funny scene. It captured what is still, seven years later, the closest any gymnast has come to beating Biles in an international all-around competition.

Iordache, 18 and carrying the once-storied Romanian gymnastics program almost single-handedly on her shoulders, had given an outstanding performance that day — one that might well have won in another era.

There was hope she could beat Biles the following year, in 2015. For the most talented Romanian gymnast of her generation, it seemed like a reasonable goal.

Instead, she spent the rest of the decade stymied by injuries at every crucial moment. Biles became unbeatable. And as recently as last year, it looked as though Iordache’s gymnastics career had peaked on that podium in Nanning, China, 0.466 of a point short of gold.

Now, Iordache has one final chance to reclaim a bit of Romania’s former gymnastics glory.

Katie Ledecky of the United States after the women’s 400-meter freestyle final at the Tokyo Aquatics Center on Monday.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Katie Ledecky tried for gold medal No. 1 in Tokyo when she swam in the 400-meter freestyle final on Monday morning. While she is dominant in the longer events, at this distance she faced a significant challenge from Ariarne Titmus of Australia.

The United States won its first relay gold in the men’s 4×100 freestyle, finishing before second-place Italy and third-place Australia. Swimming started at 10:30 a.m. in Tokyo (9:30 p.m. Eastern).

After the debut of skateboarding on Sunday, the women get to compete in street, and two Brazilians will be in the spotlight. The favorite was probably Pamela Rosa, but she failed to qualify for the final. But her countrywoman Rayssa Leal, a strong contender at just 13 years old, advanced.

Russia, China and Japan will vie for the top spots at the men’s team gymnastics competition.

And it was an early start for the male triathletes, who began at 6:30 a.m. in Tokyo (5:30 p.m. Eastern) to avoid the heat.

Katie Ledecky & Simone Manuel on Thursday at a swimming training session at the Olympic Aquatic Center in Tokyo, Japan.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Follow our live coverage of swimming at the Tokyo Olympics.

Like most years, we dive into the Olympics by diving into the pool. Swimming dominates the first week of the games. Expect some familiar faces and some new ones, many of them Americans, on the medals stand.

When does swimming happen?

Competition gets underway on Saturday night, July 24, in Tokyo, which is Saturday morning in the United States. Competition continues every day until the evening of Saturday, July 31, U.S. time.

How does the meet work?

For most events, competitors swim heats, with the top 16 times qualifying for the semifinals. The eight fastest swimmers in the semis advance to the finals.

All of the finals will be held in the morning in Japan, so they can be shown live on television in prime time in the Eastern United States.

Who are the biggest American stars?

You no doubt remember Katie Ledecky after she won the 200, 400 and 800 freestyles and the 4×200 relay in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

She could in theory win five golds this year, because the 1,500 freestyle has been added to the program as well. Expect her to cruise in the longest events, but face a strong challenge from Ariarne Titmus of Australia in the shorter ones.

Ledecky also has a relay win from 2012, for a total of five career golds. Three more this year would tie her with the swimmer Jenny Thompson for the most by an American woman. Four would match the women’s record of nine by Larisa Latynina, a Soviet gymnast of the 1950s and 1960s.

An American man who could hit a similar level of stardom is Caeleb Dressel. He was part of two winning relays in Rio but truly burst onto the scene with five gold medals at the 2019 world championships. He’ll be entered in the shortest, fastest events: the 50 and 100 freestyle and the 100 butterfly, plus a few relays.

Simone Manuel became the first Black woman to win an individual swimming gold medal, in the 100 freestyle in Rio. In a surprise, she failed to qualify for that event this year, but she will swim the anchor leg for the United States in the women’s 4×100 freestyle relay on Saturday evening Eastern time, July 24. She will also swim in the 50 free a week later.

One more American to watch is Lilly King, who will be looking to repeat in the 100 breaststroke.

The Americans will also be in the mix in all seven relays, including a new mixed medley relay in which each nation will send out two men and two women.

Who are the international stars?

Katinka Hosszu of Hungary won both the 200 and 400 meter individual medleys in Rio and goes for the double repeat in Tokyo. On the men’s side, Daiya Seto of Japan won a bronze in the 400 individual medley four years ago, but with significant improvement in recent years and swimming in his own country, he could win both the 200 and 400 I. M.s this time around. Michael Andrew of the U.S. in the shorter medley is his biggest threat.

Also look for Adam Peaty of Britain in the 100 breaststroke and Evgeny Rylov of Russia in the backstroke events.

Finn Florijn of the Netherlands.
Credit…Piroschka Van De Wouw/Reuters

Tokyo Olympic organizers on Monday announced 16 new positive coronavirus tests among people connected to the Games. At least 153 people with Olympic credentials, including 19 athletes, have tested positive.

Some athletes who tested positive have not been publicly identified.

The Netherlands team announced that their rower Finn Florijn had tested positive after his Olympic debut on Friday. Florijn, 21, had been scheduled to compete on Saturday, but his required 10-day quarantine will cut short his competition.

The average number of cases in Japan has increased 105 percent in the past two weeks, according to New York Times data.



Athletes who have tested positive for the coronavirus

Scientists say that positive tests are expected with daily testing programs, even among the vaccinated. Little information on severity has been released, though public reports suggest that cases among athletes have generally been mild or asymptomatic. Some athletes who have tested positive have not been publicly identified.


July 23

Jelle Geens

Triathlon

Belgium

Simon Geschke

Road cycling

Germany

Frederico Morais

Surfing

Portugal

July 22

Taylor Crabb

Beach volleyball

United States

Reshmie Oogink

Taekwondo

Netherlands

Michal Schlegel

Road cycling

Czech Republic

Marketa Slukova

Beach volleyball

Czech Republic

July 21

Fernanda Aguirre

Taekwondo

Chile

Ilya Borodin

Russian Olympic Committee

Swimming

Russian Olympic Committee

Amber Hill

Shooting

Britain

Candy Jacobs

Skateboarding

Netherlands

Pavel Sirucek

Table tennis

Czech Republic

July 20

Sammy Solis

Baseball

Mexico

Sonja Vasic

Basketball

Serbia

Hector Velazquez

Baseball

Mexico

July 19

Kara Eaker

Gymnastics

United States

Ondrej Perusic

Beach volleyball

Czech Republic

Katie Lou Samuelson

Three-on-three basketball

United States

July 18

Coco Gauff

Tennis

United States

Kamohelo Mahlatsi

Soccer

South Africa

Thabiso Monyane

Soccer

South Africa

July 16

Dan Craven

Road cycling

Namibia

Alex de Minaur

Tennis

Australia

July 14

Dan Evans

Tennis

Britain

July 13

Johanna Konta

Tennis

Britain

July 3

Milos Vasic

Rowing

Serbia




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