The Summer Olympics that were supposed to happen in 2020 was postponed one year due to COVID-19. But finally, the Tokyo Olympics have officially begun with a few events kicking off on Wednesday and the Opening Ceremony that happened on Friday, July 23, 2021.
For fans who weren’t allowed inside the venue, the Opening Ceremony was shown on NBC and re-aired in primetime the same night. The flame’s journey from Greece to Japan ceased with Japan’s Naomi Osaka lighting the cauldron that sat on the top of a peak inspired by Mount Fuji.
Tokyo Olympics is truly unique, primarily with no fans in attendance. Furthermore, Japan is currently dealing with the fourth state of emergency prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, and the cases are spiking in the capital city. A handful of athletes also had to pull out of the Games due to positive tests, including Coco Gauff, the famous tennis player from the United States.
Even amidst all these challenges, athletes and support staff from all over the world flew into Tokyo to make the Games happen. As the world’s top athletes start taking the spotlight, and the lines from Pointsbet, a top-reviewed sportsbook, are already predicting the most probable winners for each event, here are crucial things to know about the Games.
- Soccer and Softball Began Competition Before the Opening Ceremony
In favor of everyone who couldn’t wait for the Olympics to kick off, the first games of soccer and softball began two days prior to the Opening Ceremony. The first soccer game was played between the women from Sweden and the United States on Wednesday, July 21, 2021 before the sun rose on the East Coast.
After getting a wake-up call in their loss to Sweden, the US women’s team did exceptionally well in their next match, beating New Zealand, 6-1. Now, they are aiming to become the first-ever Reigning women’s World Cup Champion to win an Olympic gold medal.
On the other hand, the US women’s team will face Italy in a softball matchup on Tuesday, July 27, 2021. What makes softball even more special this year is that it is making its return to the Olympics ever since its last appearance in 2008 when Japan won the gold.
- The Winners Will Put the Prizes on Themselves
The first medal of the Tokyo Olympics will most likely be handed out to the winners on Saturday, July 24, 2021. The catch, the 11 total sets of medals for grabs on that day, won’t be placed around the athletes’ necks by dignitaries. Instead, due to COVID-19 concerns, the medals will be presented to the athletes as they stand on the podium, and then they will put the medals around their own necks.
All the medals this year are made from recycled materials. The Japanese organisers had earlier asked citizens to contribute small electronic devices as well as used metals to manufacture around 5,000 medals.
- A Single Race Will Determine the Fastest Woman in the World
One of the most anticipated events of the Tokyo Olympics, the women’s sprint event 100-meter final, will take place in Tokyo on Saturday, July 31, 2021. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce from Jamaica, who won gold in the event in the last two Olympics, will be looking forward to becoming the first woman to win three gold medals at this distance.
Sha’Carri Richardson, who bagged the gold medal for the 100-meter race at the US Olympic Trials, tested positive later and was disqualified for using the psychoactive component, marijuana.
The Big Question is, “Will COVID-19 Affect the Games?”
Athletes, support staff, and everyone involved physically with the Olympics have had to go through various rounds of testing and stringent safety measures to curb COVID-19. Many people have entered Japan for the Olympics, and the first positive tests were reported in the Olympic village. While the International Olympic Committee officials stated that risks do exist, but the stress is minimal.
However, with foreign visitors continuously flying into the country, the whole world is curious whether the Olympic organizers are capable of keeping positive cases isolated from other competitors and the general public. A positive case on a team can impact the whole group, preventing them from competing further. If medal favorites ended up testing positive and are forced to quarantine, it will lead to major disappointments for fans.