Going for gold under the cloud of COVID-19 makes the Tokyo Summer Games an Olympics like no other. This newsletter is here to help you make sense of it all, with original stories from Globe reporters in Canada and Tokyo, tracking Team Canada’s medal wins, and past Olympic moments from iconic performances. Tokyo Olympics Update is sent every Tuesday and Friday in July and twice daily during the Games, which run from July 23 to Aug. 8. You can sign up here. Let us know what you think by e-mailing email@example.com.
Good afternoon, and welcome to the latest edition of The Globe’s Olympic newsletter.
Gold Medal Read
Over the decades, Canadians watching at home on TV have cheered on sprinters, swimmers, hockey players and gymnasts whose stories captivated us all. Ahead of this year’s events, sports columnist Cathal Kelly has a roundup of some of the best highlights.
An example you expected is Sidney Crosby’s 2010 goal: where for just a second, we were a beer commercial. Everything was perfect. That’s all the sports can offer – an instant of togetherness. But it’s a lot.
One day, you’ve never heard of them. The next day, they’re the most famous person in the country. It’s the most charming sort of celebrity. Maybe no Canadian athlete has jumped further in less time than Penny Oleksiak, who made the list following her performance in the 2016 Rio Games.
You can read about things that happened a century ago, but that will never be as visceral as something you experienced together in an arena, your living room or a bar as it was happening, Kelly says. Which is why this list of Olympic highlights has selected moments that happened after blanket TV coverage of the Games became commonplace in the 1970s. He apologizes to all the remarkable Canadian Olympians who came before.
Read his full list of historic moments as the country prepares for this year’s Games to begin.
How Team Canada Is Shaping Up
The Tokyo Games are three days away. Here’s how Team Canada is looking.
- The opening ceremony isn’t until Friday, but Canadian athletes will be out on the softball pitch early tomorrow morning for Canada’s first event of the Tokyo Olympics. Canada will face off against Mexico on Wednesday afternoon Tokyo time – the wee hours of the morning Eastern Time. Canadian softball veterans want to put on a good show in Tokyo and prove that their sport should be an Olympic staple. Softball was held out of the past three Summer Games and won’t be part of the Paris Olympics in 2024.
- The 27-year-old sailor Sarah Douglas from Toronto makes her Olympic debut Sunday at noon (late Saturday night in Canada). She’ll race women’s laser radial in Tokyo’s Enoshima Yacht Harbour over multiple days until Aug. 1, when the medals are awarded. “The thing about sailing is we’re out there on the water – whether it’s an ocean or lake, that changes everywhere we go. We get a different aspect of the world and it changes every day. We’re weather-dependent. I just like the variety we get as a sport,” Douglas told The Canadian Press.
- Leaving the Tour de France for the Tokyo Olympics, Canadian cyclist Michael Woods has swapped one COVID-19 bubble for another. Different hotel, different time zone. Mostly the same riders. And lots of restrictions. Asked if that took away the joy of being at the Olympics, Woods replied: “One hundred per cent. … This literally feels like just I’ve gone to another bike race.” That’s not necessarily a bad thing, he explained.
- Canada’s women’s basketball team went 16 months without stepping onto the floor together, but the players never lost sight of their shared goal: climbing the medal podium in Tokyo. They held onto hope that the bonds built over the years together would be enough to bridge the kilometres between them. “We’re very fortunate we have a group of athletes and staff that have been together for a number of years now … we do have that familiarity with one another. And I think that’s going to be really important considering we haven’t had a ton of time leading up to this, ” said head coach Lisa Thomaidis.
Tokyo 2020 Chief Doesn’t Rule Out Last-minute Cancellation
The latest information you need to know about Japan, COVID-19 and the Olympics.
The chief of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee on Tuesday did not rule out cancelling the Olympics if COVID-19 cases spiked, as more athletes tested positive for the virus and sponsors ditched plans to attend Friday’s opening ceremony. There have been 67 cases of COVID-19 infections in Japan among those accredited for the Games since July 1, when many athletes and officials started arriving, organizers said on Tuesday.
The so-called bubble to control COVID-19 infections at the Olympic Athletes’ Village in Tokyo is already “broken” and poses a risk of spreading infections to the general populace, a prominent public-health expert said on Tuesday. Earlier this week, two South African soccer players became the first athletes inside the Olympic Village to test positive.
Meanwhile, a Ugandan athlete who fled during pre-Olympics training in western Japan last week has been found and is being interviewed by police, officials said Tuesday. Local police in central Japan said 20-year-old weightlifter Julius Ssekitoleko was in Yokkaichi, 170 kilometres east of his host town in western Japan. Police are asking him what happened since he fled his hotel in Izumisano in the Osaka prefecture Friday, leaving behind a note saying he didn’t want to return to his country.
Summer Olympic time capsule
July 20, 1976: Canada’s Shannon Smith celebrates her bronze-medal win
On this date in Olympic history, Shannon Smith, a 14-year-old swimmer from Vancouver, took home the bronze medal in the women’s 400-metre freestyle at the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal. Smith finished with a time of 4:14:60, slightly behind an Eastern German and an American swimmer. Interestingly enough, Canada’s current 14-year-old swimming phenom, Summer McIntosh, will also be competing in the 400-metre freestyle event in Tokyo and is looking to make history repeat itself by landing on the podium.
With files from The Canadian Press
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