Tokyo 2020 Olympics briefing: the show must go on

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·14-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
<span>Photograph: Xinhua/Shutterstock</span>
Photograph: Xinhua/Shutterstock

Today in a nutshell: Daiki Hashimoto won the men’s all-round gymnastics for the hosts, Latvia and Fiji struck team success, Australia had a huge medal haul in the rowing, but a lot of minds were still focussed on Simone Biles.

Tomorrow’s key moments: There’s the prospect of more hard-fought swimming finals, the BMX racing gets underway, as does the golf, and it will be the women’s all-around final in the gymnastics.

Katie Ledecky became the first ever Olympic champion in the women’s 1500m freestyle. It was her third attempt to win gold in Tokyo, having been edged out by Australia’s Ariarne Titmus in the 400m freestyle on Monday, and ending up an unaccustomed fifth place in the 200m freestyle just an hour before the 1500m final. Titmus picked up her second gold in that 200m, setting a new Olympic record for good measure. Also in the pool there were golds for Japan’s Yui Ohashi in the women’s 200m individual medley and for Hungary’s Kristof Milak in the men’s 200m butterfly.

There was another swimming gold for Team GB, as the men won the 4x200m freestyle relay, ahead of the Russian Olympic Committee team in second, and Australia who picked up bronze.

Tames Guy, Tom Dean, Duncan Scott and Matthew Richards of Team Great Britain celebrate their victory.
Tames Guy, Tom Dean, Duncan Scott and Matthew Richards of Team Great Britain celebrate their victory. Photograph: Xavier Laine/Getty Images

Team GB diver Jack Laugher lost his Olympic crown after what he described as a “stinker” of a performance with his partner, Dan Goodfellow, in the 3m synchro diving. A near-flawless performance from the Chinese divers Wang Zongyuan and Xie Siyi won them gold, with the US taking silver and Germany winning bronze.

There was to be no gold in the dressage for Charlotte Dujardin, but her bronze medal with Gio today makes her Britain’s most decorated female Olympian. Although Laura Kenny might have something to say about that on the cycling track next week. The Germans continued their domination of the dressage at these Olympics, adding Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and TSF Dalera’s gold, and Isabell Werth and Bella Rose 2’s silver to yesterday’s team victory. It may strike some as ludicrous but I always think the dressage is one of the most amazing spectator events at the Olympics.

I’m somewhat envious of Justin McCurry being at the Fuji International Speedway today, where he got to watch two brilliant cycling time trial sessions. “I’m number one, right?” Annemiek van Vleuten joked moments after winning gold in the women’s event, in reference to the confusion in the road cycling where she thought she’d won, only to find out that Austria’s Anna Kiesenhofer had finished her solo victory ride some moments before. Marlen Reusser of Switzerland earned silver, with van Vleuten’s teammate Anna van der Breggen in third.

Annemiek van Vleuten has her gold at last.
Annemiek van Vleuten has her gold at last. Photograph: Christopher Jue/EPA

Slovenia’s Primoz Roglic blew the rest of the field away in the men’s time trial – he beat silver medallist Tom Dumoulin of the Netherlands by a mighty one minute and one second. Australia’s Rohan Dennis placed third. The race was marred by a racism incident. German coach Patrick Moster used derogatory language when urging Nikias Arndt to try to catch Eritrean rider Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier and Algeria’s Azzedine Lagab. Moster, 54, has apologised for the comments.

Fiji retained their men’s rugby sevens title, with an emotional 27-12 win over New Zealand. Argentina took the bronze after a 17-12 victory over Great Britain, which sparked wild scenes of celebration at the final whistle.

Fiji celebrate after rugby sevens men&#x002019;s gold medal match.
Fiji celebrate after the rugby sevens men’s gold medal match. Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock

Away from today’s action, there’s understandably a continued focus on Simone Biles. She has now announced that she will not compete in the all-around gymnastics final in order to focus on her mental health. After we’d pressed send on this newsletter yesterday, Barney Ronay wrote for us on how Biles’ story, and that of Naomi Osaka, highlight what he called “the 24-hour rolling hell of Big Sport”

Be brilliant, constantly. Give us that thing we crave. And yes, you will be judged. You will be diced and dissected to the most minute degree. You will be asked to carry our hopes and fears, to embody our politics, to mean something, and to become even here a kind of commodity. This is unsustainable. Naomi Osaka has already told us this, if we care to listen.

Barney is a great writer and it is well worth reading in full.

You might also enjoy reading …

Picture of the day

Latvia are the first ever men’s Olympic champions in 3x3 basketball, beating Not Russia 21-18 in the final. In the women’s contest, the US won the gold with an 18-15 victory, also over Not Russia.

Karlis Lasmanis of Latvia celebrates in the 3x3 basketball competition.
Karlis Lasmanis of Latvia celebrates in the 3x3 basketball competition. Photograph: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

You can enjoy a whole gallery of the best pictures here.

🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 Team USA update

I haven’t written much about the water polo, and it seems unfair to bring it up just at the moment that the US faltered, but incredibly they were handed their first Olympics loss since 2008, when they fell 10-9 to Hungary in a group match. The team had been 19-0 this year up until today. They face Not Russia in their next game on Friday, and will still almost certainly progress to the quarter-finals regardless.

Jeff Kassouf has given his verdict on the USWNT so far: listless, passive and in danger of an early exit. The face the Netherlands on Friday.

🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺 Australia update

It was a big day for Australia at the Sea Forest Waterway, as the male and female coxless fours won dual gold in back-to-back finals. They were followed soon after by a pair of bronze medals in the quad scull finals. Kieran Pender has the details.

Team Australia poses for photos during the ceremony for rowing women&#x002019;s quadruple sculls.
Team Australia pose for photos during the ceremony for the women’s quadruple sculls. Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock

Australia face Team GB in the quarter-finals of the women’s football on Friday. Samantha Lewis writes for us today that a maturing Matildas squad continue to develop a complex identity under their new coach Tony Gustavsson.

🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧 Team GB update

A great morning for Australia meant it was a bad day in the office for Team GB’s rowers. Here’s Barney Ronay again, on how they swerved off course as an era of Olympic supremacy looks like it is starting to sink.

Andy Murray and Joe Salisbury’s medal hopes were ended by a quarter-final loss to Croatians Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig in the men’s doubles. The 34-year-old Murray said: “I don’t know if I’ll get the opportunity to play again. I love every minute of playing the Olympics. It is just hard. I hate losing.”

Suzanne Wrack has interviewed Team GB’s women’s football goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck. Ahead of that Friday quarter-final, Roebuck tells her: “Australia will be a different test and one we’re looking forward to. We’re confident as a squad now and hopefully you can see that it’s clicking well.”

Before that, on Thursday the Team GB men’s hockey team will be hoping to bounce back from their 5-1 thumping by Germany. Their next group game is against the Netherlands. That’s at 12.15pm Tokyo time. The women’s team are also playing the Netherlands tomorrow, at 7pm in Japan.

🇯🇵🇯🇵🇯🇵 The hosts and beyond

Daiki Hashimoto delivered a home victory for the hosts in the men’s all-around gymnastics final. Silver went to Xiao Ruoteng and Nikita Nagornyy for Not Russia was third.

I feel glad that I’ve been calling the Russian Olympic Committee team Not Russia from behind the safety of my keyboard, rather than in person in Tokyo, if the rather terse exchange between Daniil Medvedev and a member of the press is anything to go by.

Tumaini Carayol reports for us from Ariake Tennis Park that today Medvedev asked officials to remove a journalist after an uncomfortable encounter in the mixed zone. He writes:

A reporter, whose first language was not English, asked him: “Are the Russian Olympic team athletes carrying a stigma of cheaters in these Games after the scandal and how do you feel about it?” After initially misunderstanding the question, Medvedev was incensed: “That’s the first time in my life I’m not gonna answer a question, man. And you should be embarrassed of yourself,” he said. The Russian then turned to the press officer beside him and said that the journalist should be removed.

Also not having any of your nonsense today is the Netherlands’ skateboarder Candy Jacobs. She called her conditions in Japan “inhuman” having been forced into isolation for eight days and missing the street event after a positive Covid test. She posted on Instagram to say that she had to force officials to allow her a supervised short break for some fresh air away from her room, where the window doesn’t open. “Not having any outside air is so inhuman,” she said.

Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, one day after making history as the Philippines’ first ever Olympic gold medallist, took top billing in an ecstatic nation’s newspapers above reports on a major speech by her president, just two years after her name was included on a list of people accused of plotting against the same man, Rodrigo Duterte. There’s more on that here.

The line-up for the men’s football quarter-finals is complete. Japan face New Zealand, Spain will play Ivory Coast, South Korea take on Mexico, and Brazil will play Egypt. Argentina, Germany and France are among the biggest names who failed to qualify from the group stage. The matches are on Saturday.

Did you know?

Golf might seem like a relative newcomer to the Games, having reappeared for the first time in Rio in 2016. However it was part of the programme in both the 1900 and 1904 events in Paris and St Louis respectively. The 1900 competition in particular is strikingly odd, with competitors not realising it was part of the Olympic programme. Indeed, it is believed that the winner of the women’s competition in 1900, Margaret Abbot, died without ever realising that she was, in fact, the first American woman to win an Olympic event.

Key events for Thursday 29 July

Related: Tokyo 2020 Olympics: complete event schedule

The BMX racing cycling gets under way Thursday, as does the golf. It feels like a slightly quieter programme before the athletics starts on Friday. There are medals available in the canoe slalom, fencing, judo, rowing, shooting, swimming, and table tennis.

All events are listed here in local Tokyo time. Add an hour for Sydney, subtract eight hours for Leeds, thirteen hours for New York and seventeen hours for San Francisco. I’ve got to be honest, I’ve found it easier now to just have a clock set to Tokyo time on my desk at home.

🌟If you only watch one thing: 10.30am-1.20pm Swimming – It has been days now, but I still cant’t quite get my head round the swimming having finals in the morning and heats in the evening. It was this way round in Beijing too, designed to suit TV times in the US. Which means the very first race on Thursday is the men’s 800m freestyle final. There’s also medals to be had in the men’s 200m breaststroke (10.44am) and the men’s 100m freestyle (11.37am). Caeleb Dressel would have been many people’s favourite for this, but Not Russia’s Kliment Kolesnikov posted a faster qualifying time. For women, it’s the 200m butterfly (11.28am) and 4x200m freestyle relay final (12.31pm) 🥇

  • 7.30am Golf – day one of the men’s individual stroke play at Kasumigaseki Country Club. If you are in the UK, that starts at 11.30pm tonight, and like the triathlon the other day, could act as a siren call to have you staying up all night if you aren’t careful.

  • 9.00am-7.30pm Rugby sevens – the women’s competition starts on Thursday. The same format as the men, the 12 teams are in three pools of four, the top two in each pool qualify plus the two best third-placed teams. Defending champions Australia face Japan and China on day one. Team GB open against Not Russia and then face New Zealand at 6.30pm.

  • 9.18am-10.10am Rowing – I’ve been loathe to list rowing times, as they’ve been constantly rescheduled during the Games due to weather conditions, but at the time of writing, we are expecting to see the medal races in the men’s and women’s pairs and the men’s and women’s lightweight double sculls in the space of an hour. The water may have other ideas 🥇

  • 10am-11.45am Cycling BMX racing – the men and the women do three runs in the quarter-finals

  • 10.50am-7.55pm Fencing – it’s the women’s foil team contest on Thursday 🥇

  • 2.30pm-3.30pm Shooting – the trap competition reaches day two, with qualification rounds at 9am, and then the women’s final at 2.30pm and the men at 3.30pm 🥇

  • 3pm Tennis – finally, a few days in, organisers have listened to the pleas of the players, and the sessions are being pushed into the afternoon and evening to avoid the worst of Tokyo’s heat. Not before, however, Spain’s Paula Badosa left the court in a wheelchair today because of its effects. The women’s singles reaches the semi-final stage on Thursday.

  • 5pm-7.50pm Judo – there’s judo all day from 11am, but by the close of play we’ll have reached the business end of the women’s -78kg and the men’s -100kg 🥇

  • 7.50pm Artistic gymnastics – with all the headlines around it, you’ve probably already clocked that it’s going to be the women’s all-around final 🥇

You can find our full interactive events schedule here, which during the day has live scores and results feeding into it as they happen. I had it open this morning trying to make sense of the men’s cycling time trial.

As it stands

Here’s how the emoji table stood at 11.40pm Tokyo time

1 🇯🇵 Japan 🥇 13 🥈 4 🥉 5 total: 22
2 🇨🇳 China 🥇 12 🥈 6 🥉 9 total: 27
3 🇺🇸 USA 🥇 11 🥈 11 🥉 9 total: 31
4 ◽️ Not Russia 🥇 7 🥈 10 🥉 6 total: 23
5 🇦🇺 Australia 🥇 6 🥈 1 🥉 9 total: 16
6 🇬🇧 Great Britain 🥇 5 🥈 6 🥉 5 total: 16
7 🇰🇷 South Korea 🥇 4 🥈 2 🥉 5 total: 11
8 🇩🇪 Germany 🥇 3 🥈 2 🥉 5 total: 10
9 🇫🇷 France🥇 3 🥈 2 🥉 3 total: 8
10 🇳🇱 Netherlands 🥇 2 🥈 6 🥉 3 total: 11

Get in touch

I got a question via email yesterday about why Simone Biles was still on the podium despite withdrawing from the team event early on. My understanding of the rules is that you have up to four people in your team, each can do the four disciplines, and then the three best scores in each discipline count towards the total. As far as I can see from the official result, Biles’ score from the first round of 13.766 was included in the final US team total, despite her only completing the one discipline.

This caught my eye today, by the way: the Guardian’s information manager Richard Nelsson has dug out from the archives some of the Guardian’s contemporary coverage of the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, which is a fascinating little glimpse back into history.

Also, I was keen not to run a regular errata column here, but it has been drawn to my attention by David Pugh via email that yesterday I located Bermuda in the Caribbean. Despite my best efforts overnight to arrange to have the island towed there, I have to confirm that it is very much located in the North Atlantic Ocean. I blame Barry Manilow.

Do drop me a line at martin.belam@theguardian.com with your thoughts, questions, and to let me know whatever today’s deliberate mistake has been. I’ll see you tomorrow – until then, enjoy the Games and keep yourselves safe.

The last word

Katie Ledecky of US preparing to start in the women&#x002019;s 200-metre freestyle final.
Katie Ledecky of US preparing to start in the women’s 200 metre freestyle final. Photograph: Matthias Schräder/AP

Everyone around the world is watching, certainly Simone [Biles] has so many eyes on her. The cameras follow you around, I experience that on days like today. You can feel like a lot of people are watching you and every move you make is being watched and judged – Katie Ledecky, US Olympic swimmer

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting