Tokyo 2020 Olympics briefing: thrills, spills and storms at the Games

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<span>Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

Today in a nutshell: Ethiopia took the opening gold of the athletics, Novak Djokovic fell at the semi-final stage of the tennis, the golf was interrupted by fear of lightning, there’s a row about doping in the swimming, and Australia edged out Team GB in a seven-goal thriller in the football.

Tomorrow’s key moments: Boxing reaches the medal stage, there’s a morning of swimming packed with finals, it’s the women’s singles gold medal match in the tennis, and then we get to watch the fastest women in the world.

It was a surreal sight – athletes coming through an elaborate entrance gate, music and lights blaring, to an empty Olympic stadium for the first athletics final of the Games. In the end, Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega won the men’s 10,000m with a bit to spare. Joshua Cheptegei took silver and compatriot Jacob Kiplimo bronze at the climax of the first full day. It is the first time that Uganda have won two medals in the same event.

Sean Ingle was at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium for us today, and reports on the incredibly fast times recorded in the opening skirmishes of the women’s 100m. Dina Asher-Smith said she will raise her game for the next round. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’s time in her first heat, meanwhile, would have won silver at Rio. Is a world record in the offing for Saturday’s final?

Team GB had a hugely successful morning in a blistering session of BMX cycling. Bethany Shriever took gold in the women’s and Kye Whyte took silver in the men’s race. Mariana Pajón of Colombia and Merel Smulders of the Netherlands took silver and bronze in the women’s race behind Shriever. The men’s event was won by Niek Kimmann from the Netherlands, with Colombia’s Carlos Alberto Ramirez Yepes third.

BMX bikers including eventual gold-medalist Bethany Shriever take a jump during one of the BMX semi-finals.
BMX bikers including eventual gold-medalist Bethany Shriever take a jump during one of the BMX semi-finals. Photograph: François Nel/Getty Images

In his post-race interview, Whyte mentioned that everyone back at his old BMX racing club in Peckham would have been staying up into the early hours to watch him, including his seven-year-old nephew. And he also reminded us that all the athletes at the Games are competing after a difficult year, saying “I’ve got family there I haven’t seen for ages”, because they live in London while he’s based in Manchester.

There was another medal for Britain’s Bryony Page in the women’s trampoline event. She bounced her way to bronze, having won silver in Rio. China took the one-two, with Zhu Xueying winning gold and Liu Lingling silver.

Bryony Page of Britain in action on the trampoline.
Bryony Page of Britain in action on the trampoline. Photograph: Mike Blake/Reuters

There were four finals in the pool. Tatjana Schoenmaker won the women’s 200m breaststroke for South Africa. Russian Olympic Committee athlete Evgeny Rylov took gold in the men’s 200m backstroke. Team GB’s Luke Greenbank took bronze, but it was silver medallist Ryan Murphy who made headlines for what he said afterwards. The American sparked a war of words about doping, declaring: “I’m swimming in a race that’s probably not clean.”

Australia claimed both gold and bronze in the women’s 100m freestyle. Emma McKeon won, Cate Campbell was third, and Hong Kong’s Siobhan Bernadette Haughey was sandwiched between them.

China’s Wang Shun took gold in the men’s 200m individual medley final in a race where Britain’s Duncan Scott finished second to claim his third medal in Tokyo. That means Scott has now become the most successful British Olympic swimmer since the Edwardian era. Add one more medal, and he will be the first British athlete in any sport to win four medals at one Olympics. Given that he still has two events left, the men’s medley relay and the mixed medley relay, there’s every chance he will do it.

Duncan Scott of Great Britain competes during the men&#x002019;s 200m individual medley final.
Duncan Scott of Great Britain competes during the men’s 200m individual medley final. Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock

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Picture of the day

Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands, Agnes Jebet Tirop of Kenya, Senbere Teferi of Ethiopia and Ejgayehu Taye of Ethiopia in action in the athletics in the Olympic Stadium.
Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands, Agnes Jebet Tirop of Kenya, Senbere Teferi of Ethiopia and Ejgayehu Taye of Ethiopia in athletics action. Photograph: Peter Jebautzke/Reuters

Our gallery of the best pictures from day seven can be found here.

🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺 Australia update

There was a reminder of how dangerous BMX bike riding could be. Australia’s Saya Sakakibara was in a terrifying crash this morning. Emma Kemp reports for us:

When the bike of America’s Alise Willoughby appeared to touch Sakakibara’s back wheel during the third run of the women’s semi-final, the 21-year-old went down. The world watched and waited as medics rushed over and stretchered her off the course. After 30 minutes of mild concussion symptoms, Sakakibara was medically cleared. Apart from bumps and bruises, she was physically OK. Mentally she was a mess, in tears and feeling as if she had “let down” her brother Kai.

Kai would have been in Tokyo too, but for a serious crash last year which left him with permanent brain damage.

The Matildas were a minute from being eliminated from the women’s football, but an 89th-minute goal from Sam Kerr set up an astonishing 4-3 extra-time comeback, which included a crucial penalty save by Teagan Micah. Australia now face Sweden in Monday’s semi-final. Things didn’t work out so well for Australia’s women in the rugby sevens who endured a narrow 14-12 defeat to Fiji in the quarters.

Away from the actual sport for a moment, Kieran Pender in Tokyo reports on one of Australia’s secret weapons: the AOC had meticulously planned every aspect of the Games, right down to how to get a decent strong flat white.

🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 Team USA update

The Hmong community are the most supportive people ever and I just feel like many don’t reach their goals. But I want people to know that you never know what’s going to happen in the end. So don’t give up on your dreams.

Those are the words of 18-year-old Sunisa Lee, who yesterday won the all-around women’s gymnastics competition. Sean Ingle profiles her here, describing her journey to yesterday’s gold as “a story so remarkable that it could have been scripted by Hollywood”.

The US women’s basketball team beat Japan 86-69 in their second group game, and have now won 51 consecutive games dating back to the bronze medal game in the 1992 Olympics. Their next match is against France on Monday.

Sydney McLaughlin is already the fastest woman in the history of the 400m hurdles. She begins her campaign on Saturday morning, and Stephanie Hoppe profiles the 21-year-old year old for us.

🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧 Team GB update

There are more guaranteed medals in the boxing, with welterweight Pat McCormack and light heavyweight Ben Whittaker both safely progressing to the semi-finals. Those fights are both on Sunday. Caroline Dubois also won her latest bout.

Britain&#x002019;s Pat McCormack celebrates after winning against Uzbekistan&#x002019;s Bobo-Usmon Baturov.
Britain’s Pat McCormack celebrates after winning against Uzbekistan’s Bobo-Usmon Baturov. Photograph: Buda Mendes/AFP/Getty Images

If GB’s BMX racing duo exceeded expectations, the same cannot be said of British rowing. By their recent standards, they’ve had an extremely disappointing Games. Great Britain’s men’s eight took a bronze in the final event on the water, but it was only their second medal of the regatta after a silver in the men’s quadruple sculls. In 2016 the medal haul was three gold and two silver, and the London Olympics had seen the rowers pick up nine medals, including four golds and two silvers. There will be an inquest.

At the Olympic Stadium, it wasn’t a perfect day either. Eilish McColgan and Jess Judd both failed to progress in the women’s 5,000m but the 4x400m mixed relay team reached tomorrow’s final. Tom Gale qualified for the high jump final, but Lawrence Okoye missed out in the discus. Zak Seddon lost out in the steeplechase, as did Sophie McKinna, who failed to qualify in the shot put. Jemma Reekie, Alex Bell and Keely Hodgkinson all reached tomorrow’s 800m semi-finals.

Oliver Townend, the world No 1, rode Ballaghmor Class to an early lead on Friday in the dressage round of the equestrian eventing competition. China’s Alex Hua Tian came second with Germany’s Julia Krajewski third.

The men’s hockey team scored a “ghost goal” that crossed the line but didn’t count, and which wasn’t check by the video referee, in a hectic 2-2 draw with Belgium. They nevertheless progressed, and will face Australia in a quarter-final on Sunday.

Great Britain’s rugby sevens women will face France in the semi-final tomorrow morning after beating the USA team 21-12.

Deborah Fleming of Team Great Britain prepares to take the field in the rugby sevens quarter final.
Deborah Fleming of Team Great Britain prepares to take the field in the rugby sevens quarter final. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

🇯🇵🇯🇵🇯🇵 The hosts and beyond

There will be no “golden slam” for Novak Djokovic. He lost to fourth seed Alexander Zverev 1-6, 6-3, 6-1. That sets up a men’s final of Zverev against Karen Khachanov of Not Russia, who beat Spaniard Pablo Carreño Busta in the other semi-final. Meanwhile, in the tennis of the table variety, China’s Ma Long emerged victorious against teammate Fan Zhendong.

Another all-China final in the badminton mixed doubles saw Wang Yi Lyu and Huang Dong Ping defeat Zheng Si Wei and Huang Ya Qiong. Japan won its first-ever mixed-doubles bronze medal in the event as Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino, who have played together for a decade, beat Hong Kong’s Tang Chun Man and Tse Ying Suet.

Wang Yi Lyu on the way to the mixed doubles gold for China.
Wang Yi Lyu on the way to the mixed doubles gold for China. Photograph: Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Korean marksman Jin Jong-oh has criticised the IOC for allowing a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to compete and win a gold medal in the 10-metre air pistol event, saying: “How can a terrorist win first place? That’s the most absurd and ridiculous thing.”

Jiri Prskavec won the Czech Republic’s first gold medal in the men’s single kayak slalom, five years after a late gate strike cost him the title in Rio. Slovakia’s Jakub Grigar won silver, with German Hannes Aigner taking the bronze.

Japan’s Akira Sone took gold in the women’s +78kg judo. It was the hosts’ ninth judo gold in Tokyo. With 17 golds so far in these games, Japan have surpassed their previous best performance of 16 golds in both the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and and 2004 Athens Games.

Did you know?

Until around 1868, Tokyo was actually known as Edo. It only changed its name to Tokyo, which means “Eastern capital”, when the royal family moved out of Kyoto and began to use it as their centre of power during the Meiji Restoration.

Key events for Saturday 31 July

Related: Tokyo 2020 Olympics: complete event schedule

All events are listed here in local Tokyo time. Add an hour for Sydney, subtract eight hours for Gateshead, 13 hours for New York and 17 hours for San Francisco. You’ve got this sorted now, right?

🌟If you only watch one thing: 9am-12.30pm and 7pm-9.50pm Athletics – so much to watch. The morning sees preliminaries in the men’s 100m, heats in the 800m and the pole vault qualifiers. The women are doing 100m hurdles, 400m hurdles and discus. Then in the evening there’s more men’s 100m races and the long jump qualification. The women have their 800m semi-finals. The medals? At 8.15pm the men’s discus final starts. At 9.35pm there’s the 4x400m mixed relay final. The session finishes at 9.50pm with the women’s 100m final.

  • 7.30am Triathlon – the mixed relay goes very early in Tokyo, which makes it an 11.30pm bedtime watch on Friday night in the UK 🥇

  • 7.45am Golf – round two was halted due to the danger of lightning strikes. It will resume first thing, and then the third round is expected to start at 9.30am. Competitors will tee off from both the 1st and the 10th holes. Xander Schauffele of the US is currently leading on 11 under, with Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz a shot behind.

  • 9am-6pm Rugby sevens – it’s the sharp end of the women’s competition. The semi-finals are Fiji v New Zealand at 11am and Team GB v France at 11.30am, the bronze medal match is at 5.30pm, the final at 6pm 🥇

  • 10.30am-11.43am Swimming – there’s only a morning session on Saturday, which includes four finals: mens 100m butterfly, women’s 200m backstroke and 800m freestyle, and the mixed 4x100m medley finishes the day 🥇

  • 11am-7.50pm Judo – it is the final day of judo at the Nippon Budokan, with the mixed team competition. The finals start at 5pm 🥇

  • 11am-7.24pm Boxing – the first medals in boxing will be awarded today, as the losing semi-finalists in the women’s featherweight will both get a bronze. The first is at 1.39pm, and Great Britain’s Karriss Artingstall is in the second, which is last fight of the day at 7.24pm 🥉

Karriss Artingstall of celebrates her quarter-final win against Skye Nicolson of Australia earlier this week.
Karriss Artingstall of celebrates her quarter-final win against Skye Nicolson of Australia earlier this week. Photograph: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters
  • 1pm-2.50pm Trampoline gymnastics – the second and final day is the men’s competition 🥇

  • 2.33pm-3.33pm Windsurfing – conditions permitting, it should be the women’s and the men’s RS:X class 🥇

  • 3pm Tennis – slightly frustratingly it is not quite clear when the women’s singles final will start. Marketa Vondrousova v Belinda Bencic is third on the order of play, after first Djokovic and Carreño Busta, and then Rybakina and Svitolina, battle it out for their respective bronzes 🥇

You can find our full interactive events schedule here. Not only does it tell you what is coming up, it has results of everything that has been on, and also carries scores and standings of everything live.

As it stands

Here’s how the emoji table stood at 11.15pm Tokyo time

1 🇨🇳 China 🥇 19 🥈 10 🥉 11 total: 40
2 🇯🇵 Japan 🥇 17 🥈 4 🥉 7 total: 28
3 🇺🇸 USA 🥇 14 🥈 16 🥉 11 total: 41
4 ◽️ Not Russia 🥇 10 🥈 14 🥉 10 total: 34
5 🇦🇺 Australia 🥇 9 🥈 2 🥉 11 total: 22
6 🇬🇧 Great Britain 🥇 6 🥈 9 🥉 9 total: 24
7 🇰🇷 South Korea 🥇 5 🥈 4 🥉 6 total: 15
8 🇳🇱 Netherlands 🥇 3 🥈 7 🥉 5 total: 15
9 🇫🇷 France 🥇 3 🥈 5 🥉 5 total: 13
10 🇩🇪 France🥇 3 🥈 4 🥉 9 total: 16

Get in touch

I instantly fell in love with the Kenya men’s athletics kit by the way. Like a giant burgundy 3D-honeycomb. Or the carpet in the Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.

Weldon Kipkurui Langat of Kenya and Sam Atkin of Britain in action in the 10,000m.
Weldon Kipkurui Langat of Kenya and Sam Atkin of Britain in action in the 10,000m. Photograph: Hannah McKay/Reuters

I was also very impressed with this brilliant clip of a camera operator filming the trampoline gymnastics. He seems to be getting as much of a work-out as they were.

You can get in touch with me at I’ll be here tomorrow – until then take care and stay safe.

The last word

Ryan Murphy of the USA shows his silver medal from the men&#x002019;s 200m backstroke final.
Ryan Murphy of the USA shows his silver medal from the men’s 200m backstroke final. Photograph: How Hwee Young/EPA

I’ve got about 15 thoughts, and 13 of them would get me into a lot of trouble. It is a huge mental drain to go through the year knowing that I’m swimming in a race that’s probably not clean, and that is what it is. The people that know a lot more about the situation made the decision that they did. I don’t have the bandwidth to train for the Olympics at a very high level and try to lobby the people that are making the decisions that they’re making the wrong decisions – Ryan Murphy, the US silver medallist in the 200m backstroke

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