Category Archives: #TokyoTakeDown

#TokyoTakeDown Home Sports Tokyo 2020

What you need to know about the Tokyo Olympics, six months out

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Who will be the Face of the Tokyo Olympics?
Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt retired since Rio, creating an opening for new alpha athletes at the Games. Successors emerged at recent world championships.

Simone Biles is a familiar name, having earned four gold medals in Rio. After a one-year break, she returned even more dominant than before. She could earn five golds in Tokyo, and perhaps medals in all six events.

In swimming, Caeleb Dressel could try for seven gold medals and Simone Manuel and Katie Ledecky for six each. They won’t approach the Phelpsian feat of eight golds, but the addition of a mixed-gender relay and the women’s 1500m freestyle will make the U.S.’ best even busier than in Rio.

Bolt’s world records don’t look under threat, but the U.S. is set to retake the throne of men’s sprinting. Christian Coleman is the reigning world 100m champion, Noah Lyles the reigning world 200m champion and Michael Norman the world’s fastest 400m sprinter last year. Coleman and Lyles are each expected to attempt the Bolt triple of the 100m, 200m and 4x100m.

TOKYO, JAPAN : The Olympic Rings are displayed in front of the new national stadium in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)

Final Olympics for legends
Biles has said she’s 99 percent sure the Tokyo Olympics will be her final competition at age 23. She’s not the only megastar bidding for a farewell this summer.

No more evident than in tennis. Come 2024, Venus Williams will be 44; Roger Federer and Serena Williams 42 and Rafael Nadal 38. It’s possible if not likely that they all retire at some point in the next Olympic cycle. Federer, Serena and Nadal are all but assured to qualify for Tokyo. Venus might need a doubles invitation.

Tiger Woods, if he was from any other nation, would be a near-lock to qualify. But he’s currently outside the cutoff for the U.S., by far the deepest golf nation. Woods must be ranked among the top four Americans after the U.S. Open to make it to Tokyo at age 44.

LeBron James, 35, has not publicly committed to playing, but he has massive respect for new U.S. coach Gregg Popovich. And everyone within USA Basketball has to be motivated after a seventh-place finish at last year’s FIBA World Cup without the NBA’s best stars. Two of the greatest female players in history, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi, are back for their fifth Olympics.

Allyson Felix eyes her fifth and likely last Olympics, too, and her first as a mom. She owns six gold medals so far. Two more would tie swimmer Jenny Thompson‘s record for an American woman. But can she qualify for the U.S. individually by placing top three at the trials in June? She was sixth in the 400m in her comeback meet at nationals last year, eight months after childbirth.

Another mom, Kerri Walsh Jennings, is making her sixth and final Olympic push. This time with another new partner, Brooke Sweat. They’re in position to make it as the second and final U.S. team, though they’re not assured with five months left in qualifying. Walsh Jennings, 41, is older than any previous Olympic beach volleyball player.

Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe will lead the U.S. women’s soccer team in qualifying later this month. Even FIFA World Cup star Kylian Mbappe expressed interest in playing in the men’s tournament, which is mostly comprised of players 23 and under. But he may be back in four years when Paris hosts as an over-age exception.

What’s new for 2020?
Five sports were added to the Olympic program for Tokyo — karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing for the first time — and the return of baseball and softball for the first time since 2008.

The U.S. has reigning world champions in skateboarding and surfing, the latter with a team so deep that the world’s third-best woman didn’t qualify. Neither did 47-year-old Kelly Slater, ranked eighth in the world. The U.S. softball team had no problem qualifying as world champion, but baseball will come down to qualifiers in two months.

What about Russia?
Russia’s doping issues haven’t gone away since PyeongChang, when sanctions included having their team name changed to “Olympic Athletes from Russia.” Though December headlines labeled Russia as being banned from the Olympics for four years, in reality it might not be much different than in South Korea in 2018. Its athletes are still in line compete, even if they must be cleared by anti-doping authorities. But perhaps without the Russian flag or anthem (as it was in PyeongChang). Perhaps the word “Russia” will be removed entirely from the Games, but nothing goes into effect until after an appeals process plays out.

Who qualifies for Team USA?
That’s the primary question from now until Olympic competition starts July 22. So far, these 31 athletes are on Team USA. By July, it will be more than 500. Key events this spring:

April 4-5: Wrestling trials
June 14-21: Diving trials
June 19-28: Track and field trials
June 21-28: Swimming trials
June 25-28: Gymnastics trials

By OlympicTalk

#TokyoTakeDown Home Sports Tokyo 2020

SIX MONTHS TO GO TO TOKYO 2020

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The lighting of the Olympic Symbol and an elaborate fireworks show in Tokyo Bay marked Olympic year on Friday (24 January) with exactly six months to go to the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Games.

The Five Rings, which arrived on the shores of Odaiba Marine Park a week ago, were ceremoniously illuminated before fireworks – including one in the shape of the Symbol – lit up the night sky with the Rainbow Bridge fittingly taking on rainbow colours.

The Symbol will be lit until midnight everyday until the end of the Tokyo Olympic Games on 9 August. It will then be replaced by the Paralympic Symbol – the Three Agitos.

SPECTACULAR FIREWORKS LIGHT UP TOKYO BAY WITH THE OLYMPIC SYMBOL AND RAINBOW BRIDGE ILLUMINATED TO MARK SIX MONTHS UNTIL THE TOKYO 2020 GAMES

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike was on hand to officially welcome the Olympic year alongside Japanese Olympic Committee President Yasuhiro Yamashita.

“We are now six months away,” Koike said. “Tonight is an occasion for all of us to come together, looking ahead to the Tokyo Games.”

At the start of the six-month countdown, all but one of the eight new permanent venues – the Tokyo Aquatics Centre – are complete.

The residential buildings of the Athletes’ Village were finished last month and will be showcased to the media next week.

All 26,000 beds to be used in the Village will be made almost entirely of renewable materials.

Through the second phase of ticket sales, 4.48 million tickets had been purchased by the Japanese public.

One last round of worldwide sales on a first-come, first-serve basis will be held in the spring.

Nearly 205,000 people from around the world applied for the Tokyo 2020 Volunteer Programme with 80,000 already selected.

The third and final wave of Tokyo 2020 test events will be held from February to May.

Tokyo 2020 spokesperson Masa Takaya said organisers could not be more ready.

“With the Olympic year finally here, everything is coming together”, Takaya said in a statement. “We’ve spent the last seven years working toward this, and now with just six months to go we’re excited to see the pieces falling into place.

“From venues to volunteers to ticketing, preparations are exactly where we want them to be at the six-month mark”.

By Shintaro Kano (Olympic Channel)

#TokyoTakeDown Athletics Home Sports Tokyo 2020

South African athletics season ahead of Tokyo Olympics

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JOHANNESBURG – Plenty of action is on the cards for the 2020 athletics season, with the latest Athletics SA fixtures list reflecting a full calendar of events across a variety of disciplines both at home and abroad.

On the domestic circuit, multiple opportunities will be provided for athletes to qualify for major international championships. The 2020 season opens on Saturday, with the ASA Cross Country trials, to be held in Potchefstroom.

The ASA National Primary Schools Track and Field Championships will take place in Pietermaritzburg on March 20 and 21, with the Twizza ASA Under-16, Under-18 and Under-20 T&F Championships hosted by Boland Athletics at Dal Josaphat Stadium in Paarl from March 26 to 28.

The 3Sixty Life & Sizwe Medical Fund ASA Senior T&F and Combined Events Championships will be hosted by Athletics Gauteng North at Pilditch Stadium in Tshwane from April 23 to 25.

In addition, the local track and field season will include three ASA Athletix Grand Prix meetings, to be held in Cape Town on April 9, in Tshwane on April 14 and Potchefstroom on April 18.

Ruswahl Samaai
Photo: Hassan Ammar/AP Photo

On the road, the ASA 10km Championships will be held in Durban on July 12 (incorporated into the FNB CitySurfRun), the ASA Half-Marathon Championships will be held in Port Elizabeth on July 25 (incorporated in the Nelson Mandela Bay Half-Marathon), and the ASA Marathon Championships will be held in Cape Town on October 18 (incorporated into the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon).

The domestic campaign will also feature the ASA National Cross Country Championships, taking place at Amanzimtoti, south of Durban, on September 5.

Wayde van Niekerk
Photo: AP Photo/Tim Ireland

Elsewhere, on the international circuit, the 2020 season will focus around the Olympic Games, set for Tokyo, where the athletics competition will be held between July 31 and August 9.

The international season also includes the CAA Africa Cross Country Championships scheduled for  Lomé on a new date to be determined, the World Athletics Indoor Championships to be held in Nanjing between March 13 and 15, the World Athletics Half-Marathon Championships in Gdynia on March 29 and the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships in Minsk on May 2 and 3.

There will also be CAA African Senior Championships in Algiers between from June 24 to 28, the World Athletics Under-20 Championships in Nairobi from July 7 to 12 and the IAU 100km World Championships scheduled for Winschoten on September 12. 

by African News Agency (ANA)

#TokyoTakeDown Gymnastics Home Sports Tokyo 2020

South African Gymnast Caitlin’s goals for Tokyo 2020

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Caitlin Rooskrantz cannot wait to take on the world’s best at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics.

The 18-year-old is fearless on the bar but will also compete on vault, beam and floor come July and August. Rooskrantz lives in Florida North and attends Parktown High School for Girls. “I am really excited about the Olympics,” the youngster smiled in between practice at Johannesburg Gymnastics Centre in Newlands.

“I want to get experience on the biggest stage, get through injury-free and have fun.”

Photo Credits: Nicholas Zaal

The youngster rues missing out on the Youth Olympics because of her age by the time it came around in 2018. She did, however, compete at the Youth Commonwealth Games in Namibia in 2016 and finished second overall. Rooskrantz followed this up with a gold in the bar at the World Cup in Hungary in September last year.

“I plan to have one more cycle after this and compete at the 2022 Commonwealth Games and 2024 Summer Olympics.”

Photo Credits: Nicholas Zaal

Her head coach, Ilse Pelser believes Rooskrantz has a good chance at getting a top finish in the bar at the Olympics.

“I have been training Caitlin for 10 years and her favourite and best discipline is the bar,” Pelser said.

“Caitlin has a fantastic work ethic and attitude. She never misses practice and puts in hard work day-in and day-out. I want her to mark no falls [at the Olympics] and she has a good chance of making it to the Paris 2024 [Summer Olympics].”

Details: Johannesburg Gymnastics Centre jgcgymnastics@absamail.co.za; 083 634 6164.

Article by Nicholas Zaal

#TokyoTakeDown Home Sports Tokyo 2020

Mario and flying cars tipped to appear at Tokyo 2020 Opening Ceremony

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Video game icon Mario and flying cars could be part of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Opening Ceremony, according to reports.

Photo Credits: ©Getty Images

Kyodo News said both could feature as animated characters and new technology are due to play prominent roles.

Mario, the famous plumber who stars in numerous Nintendo games, is in line to take “centre stage” with organisers hoping to deliver a message of peace.

At Rio 2016, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe dressed up as Mario in the handover segment of the Closing Ceremony.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe dressed up as Mario at Rio 2016 ©Getty Images

Other Japanese characters including Hello Kitty, robotic cat Doraemon and footballer Captain Tsubasa also appeared with Tokyo 2020 expected to again highlight Japan’s famous cartoon industry.

According to Kyodo News, one idea is for rival characters to shake hands in line with the Olympic Truce.

The message of peace could also be displayed by the release of paper doves.

People riding in flying cars might be used to highlight Japanese innovation, meanwhile.

This could also see hydrogen, a next-generation energy source, used as the fuel which lights the Olympic cauldron.

In what would be another example of organisers using the Games to promote the disaster-hit region of Fukushima, a plant from the prefecture may produce the hyrdrogen.

Around 16,000 people died after an earthquake and tsunami caused an accident at a nuclear power plant there in 2011. 

The Japanese leg of the Olympic Torch Relay will begin in Fukushima with some using the term “Reconstruction Olympics”.

Baseball and softball matches will also be held there, while flowers grown in areas affected by the earthquake will be used in bouquets for medal winners. 

Japan’s fight against natural disasters could also be a theme of the Olympic Opening Ceremony, which will be held at Tokyo’s New National Stadium on July 24.

Mansai Nomura, a famous Japanese actor, is the creative director of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for both the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

He has been tipped to coordinate the events together as a “four-part series”, instead of them being separate entities.

By Dan Palmer (Inside the Games)

#TokyoTakeDown Home Sports Tokyo 2020

Usain Bolt takes to the track during opening ceremony for Tokyo national stadium

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Sprinting great Usain Bolt ran on the track at Tokyo’s newly-completed National Stadium on Saturday during an event to celebrate the opening of the venue set to be the centrepiece of next year’s Olympics.

 Usain Bolt

Bolt, the eight-times Olympic gold medallist, jogged around the track as part of a relay race in front of an audience of approximately 60,000 people, who were the first members of the public to watch an event in the National Stadium.

Work on the stadium, built at a cost of 156.9 billion yen ($1.44 billion), was finished in November, nine months before it hosts the Olympics’ opening ceremony on July 24.

‘It was a great experience being in here and running in front of so many people,’ said the 100 and 200 metres world record holder.

‘I was happy and excited because I won’t be getting to compete at the Olympics so the fact that I got to run on the track was an experience in itself.

‘I am actually in pain right now from the little run I just did.’

Before Bolt took centre stage, the audience watched a smaller version of what might be expected from the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony, with troupes from around Japan taking part in a traditional ‘matsuri’ festival, dancing and chanting their way around the track.

Soccer player Kazuyoshi Miura, who still plays professionally at the age of 52, and several of Japan’s rugby players also took part in the event, which, barring a slight glitch when Brave Blossoms captain Michael Leitch was interrupted by the PA system, ran smoothly.

Kazuyoshi Miura

The first sporting event to be held at the National Stadium will be the Emperor’s Cup soccer final on Jan. 1 and the venue will also host the Tokyo 2020 athletics test event in May.

By TOBY DAVIS, REUTERS

#TokyoTakeDown Home Sports

New benchmark for Olympic Agenda 2020

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International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach attended an IOC “debrief” on the Pyeongchang Winter Games and the Beijing 2022 Olympics here on Tuesday and expressed his confidence that Beijing 2022 will set a new benchmark for the Olympic Agenda 2020.

The debriefing, which will last for five days, includes strategic and operational sessions. It also officially kicks off what is known as the “New Norm“, which is the implementation plan of the Olympic Agenda 2020.

Even though the reforms of the Olympic Agenda 2020 came into effect after PyeongChang was selected as host city, the Organizing Committee did subsequently benefit from many of the Olympic Agenda 2020 recommendations. Lee Hee-beom, head of the PyeongChang 2018 Organizing Committee said on Monday that they managed to host a profitable Olympics.

“The debriefing showed that the reform of the Olympic Agenda 2020 now has really come to fruition. The most obvious is the announcement of PyeongChang 2018 that they had a multi-million dollar surplus,” Bach said at a press conference held after the strategic sessions concluded on Tuesday.

“It’s only possible because of the reforms of Olympic Agenda 2020 and the close cooperation with the IOC. There you can see the Olympic Agenda 2020 at work. We have turned the page with regard to the organization of the Olympics,” Bach added.

Beijing 2022 will be the first Winter Games to fully benefit from the reforms from its very outset. “There are two impressive highlights from Beijing. One is sustainability. You need to look around here at the Shougang Center, [to see the] the positive effect that awarding the Olympic Games had for this area,” Bach said.

The debriefing was held in the Shougang Industrial Park. The Shougang Group, one of China’s largest steel enterprises, put an end to its production in the park years ago and relocated the production base in a bid to implement the national strategy of structurally upgrading the steel industry in order to improve Beijing’s air quality, and support the preparations for Beijing 2008.

To promote the protection and utilization of the old industrial site, Beijing 2022 decided to base its head office in the Shougang Industrial Park, and now the workshops there have been transformed into modern office buildings.

“Chinese friends are not only talking the talk, but also walking the walk. They take sustainability really as a core issue for the organization of the Games,” Bach said.

“The other is feasibility. The Organizing Committee is working with high efficiency, while making all the potential savings the Olympic Agenda 2020 is offering, and keeping the Olympic spirit alive and respecting the athlete experience. We are very confident that Beijing will set a new benchmark benefiting for the first time from all the potential of the Olympic Agenda 2020 with regard to a great organization, offering the best opportunity for the athletes and in particular sustainability and feasibility,” he added.

PyeongChang kicked off an unprecedented three consecutive editions of the Olympic Games taking place here in Asia. With Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 coming up, the Olympics are now in an entirely Asian cycle.

“In a way, having three Olympic Games in a row in Asia also tells us something about the vision that Asia has for the future. This vision is defined by ambition, confidence and a real can-do attitude to shape the future. Asia is looking to the future with a view to shape it for the better. As a European, I sometimes miss this Asian dynamism and faith in the future in my home continent. In Europe, it often seems that people look to the future with unease and hesitation,” Bach said.

“I hope the Europeans [are] coming back and learning from Asia. You have a good future only if you shape the future. You cannot sit there and wait for a better future,” Bach concluded.

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