Japan’s Aori Nishimura competes during the street prelims on July 26. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
The Olympics began only on Friday, and already the Games have given us several incredible moments and surprises. Here’s what you need to know on the first Monday of Tokyo 2020 (in 2021).
Is the Japanese public getting on board with the Games? The Japanese government’s decision to trudge forward with the Olympics was not a popular one at home. A petition to cancel the Games netted 350,000 signatures in May. Before the Games formally kicked off on Friday, nearly eight out of 10 (78%) people in Japan said they did not think the Olympics should have gone ahead as scheduled, according to an Ipsos Mori survey.
But has the spirit of the Olympics proven contagious? Japan faired particularly well during the first weekend of competition, netting five gold medals — including the first-ever skateboarding gold. Only China, with six, has more.
Some people have taken to turning up outside events, even though they can’t get in. And more than 70 million people in the country tuned in to watch the opening ceremony, according to Yiannis Exarchos, the CEO of Olympic Broadcasting Services.
“Interest in the Games is booming,” he said. “Until today, I think more than 80% of all Japanese have watched some part of the Games.”
Big surprises and upsets: It’s only been a few days, and already the Olympics have given us the feel-good stories of triumph and human achievement they’re known for.
Austria’s Anna Kiesenhofer turned in the performance of a lifetime to eclipse a field of big names and win the women’s road race. She only started the sport in 2014 and does not have a professional contract at the moment.
Tunisia’s Ahmed Hafnaoui shocked the swimming world by winning gold in the 400m freestyle. During the preliminary round, he qualified in 8th place with the slowest qualifying time of all finalists.
The US men’s basketball team, flush with NBA stars, lost its first game to France Sunday night. The French used the size of three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert and a magnificent performance from fellow NBAer Evan Fournier to shock the Americans, who could not capitalize on multiple attempts to close out the game.
Some other firsts: Anastasija Zolotic became the first American woman to win Olympic gold in Taekwondo and Fencer Lee Kiefer is the first US woman to win gold in individual foil.
What’s on tap today in Japan:
- Swimming: Britain’s Adam Peaty won the 100m breaststroke gold, while Ariarne Titmus beat American great Katie Ledecky in the women’s 400m freestyle final.
- Skateboarding: The first gold is on the line in the women’s street final.
- Rugby sevens: Rio 2016 winner Fiji beat host Japan 24-19 in the morning, while New Zealand, another favorite, took care of business against South Korea 50-5. A second round of matches will be held starting at 4:30 p.m. in Japan.
The full schedule can be found on the Olympics website here.