Tokyo 2020 chiefs have banished an Olympic Village resident from the Games after they broke strict rules by going sightseeing.

The individual has had their accreditation withdrawn, said Tokyo Olympic organising committee spokesperson Masa Takaya.

Takaya did not identify the person concerned and would not comment on whether they were a competitor.

It is the first case of a resident of the Olympic Village being thrown out for such a breach of the Games 'playbook', which includes restrictions on movement due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Takaya told a media briefing on Saturday: "To leave the Olympic Village for sightseeing, that should not be tolerated and therefore accreditation was removed

"I can't give you any more than that. That decision was made yesterday."

Asked whether the person was an athlete, he added: "I can't tell you. It is a person related to the Games.

"As long as the accreditation is deprived, this person cannot enter into any Tokyo 2020 relevant venues."

Regarding whether any others were involved, Takaya said: "In terms of the number of people, I can't disclose that number."

He said more detail may be provided by Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto on Sunday, when he attends the daily Games briefing.

 

Takaya also said there had been a breach at a hotel housing athletes that are in isolation due to COVID-19 protocols, with two people said to have left.

"According to the facility manager – in this case it's a hotel – I have to say the communication was not adequate. When the hotel faced the people who insisted on leaving, the hotel wanted to retain them, trying to convince them of not leaving, but they have forcefully left the facility," Takaya said. 

That news came in the wake of Germany's athletes' body Athleten Deutschland criticising quarantine conditions.

The German organisation complained of "insufficient supply in basic areas", including fresh air.

"The food supply is neither rich nor balanced, nor does it meet the sometimes specific nutritional requirements of top athletes," Athleten Deutschland added.

"Athletes who have resumed training activities in the room have to wash sweaty clothes in the sink, which hardly dry afterwards.

"You feel left alone and have to obtain a lot of information yourself. It is unclear to you what the exact sequence of the quarantine is and what steps have to be taken after it has ended."

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) will hold talks with Cricket Australia over coronavirus restrictions during the Ashes amid concerns that several senior players may be reluctant to tour.

Joe Root's side are due to start their bid to regain the urn at The Gabba on December 8, with the fifth and final Test scheduled to begin at Optus Stadium in Perth on January 18.

Multi-format players such as Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler would face several months away from home, with the T20 World Cup taking place in the United Arab Emirates prior to the Ashes.

It is unclear whether COVID-19 rules may prevent families from travelling to Australia and England players have been in talks this week to seek clarity over restrictions that may be in place.

The ECB and the Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA) say player and staff welfare will be a priority as they prepare to hold discussions with Cricket Australia.

A joint ECB and PCA statement  said: "This week, several meetings have been held between the England men's players, ECB and Team England Player Partnership to discuss provisional plans for the tour of Australia later in the year.

"All parties are collaborating and will continue to work together to understand protocols around bubble environments, family provision and quarantine rules that will be in place for the tour during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

"With player and management’s welfare paramount, the ECB will discuss planning and operational requirements with Cricket Australia in the coming weeks and how they seek to implement their policies in partnership with state and federal governments.

"All stakeholders are committed to putting player and staff welfare as the main priority and finding the right solutions that enables the England team to compete with the best players and at the highest possible standard that the Ashes series deserves."

It's already been a week since Naomi Osaka lit the Olympic cauldron.

The Games like no other, the Games that no one wanted, the pandemic Games... whatever you want to call them, the Games began and Friday now brings the first day of athletics to Tokyo 2020.

So, what's the state of play out in Tokyo?

Stats Perform journalist Peter Hanson has been out in the Japanese capital and answers some of the big questions to give us an overview.


Where were we prior to the Games?

The perception from afar of the public attitude in Tokyo, and indeed all around Japan, was one of fear, mistrust and indeed anger that the Games would take place despite being in the midst of a deadly pandemic.

Back in January, a survey by Kyodo News Agency found approximately 80 per cent of people did not want the Games to take place as scheduled. As recently as April a different poll by consultancy firm Kekst CNC suggested 56 per cent did not want them to go ahead. 

By June, there was an indication that public angst was softening a little when the conservative newspaper Yomiuri found 50 per cent of its responders wanted the event to go ahead, up from 39 the month before, while those thinking it should be cancelled dropped from 59 to 48.

Still, there was a very real reminder that significant opposition remained when protestors could be heard outside the Olympic Stadium at the opening ceremony.

There were other PR difficulties to contend with, too. Leading Japanese brand Toyota – which has a lengthy Olympics association – pulled all advertisement relating to the Games on Japanese TV.

On the eve of the opening ceremony, its director resigned over comments made about the holocaust, while a composer stepped away amid allegations of bullying. A few months earlier, the creative director resigned following derogatory remarks about women.

So, yeah, it wasn't exactly the normal pre-Olympics buzz.


Has there been a shift in mood among the residents of Tokyo?

My own personal experience of the locals here has admittedly been restricted to those working at the Games – even my hotel is on a designated list of accommodation facilities the media have to stay at – due to the agreement made in my activity plan for the Japanese government to only visit Games-specific venues.

But there has been overriding enthusiasm from those involved. Everyone working at the venues, at the media centre, at the transport mall, on the shuttle buses, goes above and beyond to help solve issues or direct you to the right destination – all with big smiles and a customary bow, even when standing for hours in the searing 30-degrees temperatures or the tropical downpours.

Koki Horada is a local freelance video journalist working alongside me for Stats Perform at these Games. Koki spent over 20 years living and working in the UK and he thinks there has been a shift in the perception of the Olympics in Tokyo.

"Before the opening ceremony many people protested against the Olympic Games but once it started the mood changed," he told me.

"I think the opening ceremony helped and also the judo where the Japanese men got a gold medal.

"Now the Japan team has a lot of gold medals. And there's people with a kind of nationalism or love for Japan or for the Olympic Games [as a result of that]."

Japan has had a fair bit of home success so far – is that helping to change the mood?

The best way for any host nation to capture the imagination of the public has always been to rack up the gold medals – I remember for example being completely enthralled in 2012 by the success of Team GB in London.

It feels particularly important that Japan do well in these Games and, so far at least, the home favourites have been pretty impressive.

There have been some disappointments. Daiya Seto failing to even get out of the heats when favourite in the men's 400m individual medley on the first night of swimming being one. The significantly more damaging one, of course, being cauldron-lighter Osaka's third-round exit to Marketa Vondrousova in the women's tennis.

But there has been plenty to celebrate, too. Yui Ohashi grabbed a medley double in the pool, Chizuru Arai and Takanori Nagase earned judo golds, and earlier this week Japan actually led in the medal table.

So, even the sceptics may have been swayed by watching the Japanese favourites succeed at these Games.

Koki tells me that actually plenty were already in support of the Olympics but perhaps did not feel as though they could make such an opinion heard.

"I think the media reported that more than half of the people were against the Olympics but it's not true, I think," he said.

"I think it's just Japanese culture, always Japanese people want to join the majority opinion. That's just culture, it's the difference between say European and American people. 

"The people who wanted to support or wanted to enjoy the Olympic Games couldn't say so or they couldn't show the attitude beforehand, but now things started changing more."


Is COVID still causing concern?

I mean, where isn't it?

By Wednesday, the capital recorded over 3,000 cases in a single day for the first time during the pandemic. 

Thursday's numbers showed there were 3,865 in Tokyo, 10,000 in Japan in total (the first time they had ever exceeded 10,000), and 193 Olympics-related coronavirus infections had been recorded.

It's impossible not to feel slightly apprehensive at times, it was certainly a factor I myself battled with before deciding to fly out here.

The thing is, though, that – certainly within the infrastructure of the Games – every step has been taken to reduce infections. There are temperature checks to get in every venue, testing every four days (it's more regular for athletes), hand sanitiser everywhere you turn, mandatory face masks and social distancing observed.

The Tokyo locals had come to expect some rise in cases. When it comes to COVID and infection numbers, though, what do you ever call an acceptable level?


Are the Games a success or will they be?

Truthfully, it's a hard question to answer. It just feels like the measures for "success" are too arbitrary.

And it really does depend on whose viewpoint you're looking at.

For the IOC and Tokyo 2020 organisers, the fact we are even here at all is probably a cause for celebration. Getting through to August 8 without major incident is now the real target for the bigwigs in charge.

Inside Tokyo, there probably will be a collective sigh of relief when hordes of athletes, officials and the world's media pack up their cases and return home.

Those watching around the world seem split firmly down the middle. For some, the Games offer a little escapism and the true moments of magic that only an Olympics can bring still resonate. For others, the empty stadiums and the COVID-related uncertainty over all events make it a poor experience.

Personally, I've always been somewhere down the middle on it.

I love sports, I love the Olympics, and the privilege I have to be out here when others can't be is absolutely not lost.

But it can be pretty surreal watching moments that should be playing out in front of raucous crowds occur to just the ripples of noise from their supporting team-mates.

And, truthfully, the further I get towards the end point and flying home, the more that nagging voice in the back of my head saying "please don't get COVID, please don't get COVID" edges forward and becomes less of a whisper and more a constant scream.

Australia's track and field athletes endured a two-hour wait on Thursday before fears their Tokyo Olympics hopes might be in jeopardy were allayed.

A link was established to United States pole vaulter Sam Kendricks, who has tested positive for COVID-19 and been ruled out of the Games, and Australia's team were sent into isolation.

However, checks returned all-clear results, with only three athletics team members required to remain isolated.

Kendricks had reportedly been training this week alongside Australian Kurtis Marschall, and the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) stated that three members of their squad had "brief casual contact" with a US athlete who had tested positive.

The upheaval came on the eve of the athletics programme getting under way at Tokyo 2020 and saw 57 Australian athletes and officials briefly in limbo.

In a statement, the AOC said: "Members of the Australian track and field team in the Tokyo Olympic Village have been cleared to return to their regular routines after earlier isolating in their rooms as a precautionary measure.

"The all-clear comes after three members of the team underwent PCR testing following a brief casual contact with a US track and field athlete who had tested positive to COVID-19.

"All three tested negative after undergoing a PCR test this afternoon, while team-mates remained in their rooms in line with AOC COVID protocols.

"The three, who are all vaccinated, self-reported once they heard news of the US athlete testing positive late this morning. All daily tests of the trio in the Village had also returned negative results."

 

The AOC said the three individuals who were tested would remain isolated for now but would be allowed to resume training on the proviso their contact with others is limited.

"At this stage all athletes are expected to compete as planned," the AOC said.

While those three athletes must follow the strict guidance, the AOC said 41 athletes and 13 officials had been given permission to leave their rooms after "a little over two hours" spent cooped up.

Australia chef de mission Ian Chesterman said: "Once again, abundant caution and our strict protocols continue to keep the team safe. We want every Australian athlete to be in a position to have their Olympic moment."

International Olympic Committee officials have hit back at claims the Tokyo Games have put significant added pressure on Japan's coronavirus-hit medical system.

Host city Tokyo had 3,865 new cases on Thursday, up from 3,177 on Wednesday, as it set a record high for a third straight day.

The surge in COVID-19 cases has added to concerns about the decision to stage the Games and its impact upon on Japan's health infrastructure.

Tokyo 2020 is taking place under unprecedented conditions, with fans unable to attend while athletes are subjected to strict testing to identify and isolate positive cases.

And IOC medical and scientific director Richard Budgett insisted these regulations inside the Olympic bubble had negated any significant impact.

"This is the most tested community anywhere in the world. The athletes in the Olympic Village really are living in a parallel world," Budgett said.

"As far as I’m aware, there has not been a single instance of an athlete case spreading to the local population, and not a single severe case has occurred among our stakeholders.

"There are two positive cases who are in hospital, but no severe cases at this stage. 

"It is challenging for any country when there are rising cases, but I am confident the Olympics are being run without affecting that secondary care in hospital provision."

Kirsty Coventry, chair of the IOC athletes' commission, has responded to complaints from Dutch skateboarder Candy Jacobs that conditions at quarantine hotels are "inhuman".

Jacobs tested positive for COVID-19 and posted on Instagram about initially not being permitted to get fresh air during isolation because her hotel window did not open.

Coventry said: "We have been working very closely with TOCOG [the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games] about improving all those experiences [at] the quarantine centres and hotels.

"Candy and others have raised similar points. We have reached out to them and are working with them to make sure conditions are improved."

Real Madrid have confirmed new signing David Alaba has tested positive for coronavirus.

Alaba, who played in all of Austria's Euro 2020 matches, agreed to join Madrid following the expiration of his contract with Bayern Munich, where he had spent his entire career, winning 27 trophies.

The 29-year-old – who has taken Madrid's number four shirt vacated by Sergio Ramos – was officially unveiled at the Santiago Bernabeu on July 21.

However, his pre-season preparations have been hit by a positive COVID-19 test.

Madrid revealed the news in a brief statement on their official website. They did not clarify whether Alaba was asymptomatic. 

Alaba, who has signed a five-year deal with Los Blancos, is the second Madrid player to test positive in as many weeks, after Karim Benzema also contracted the virus.

With Madrid having agreed to sell Raphael Varane to Manchester United, Alaba is set to lead a new-look defence this season.

Carlo Ancelotti's team were beaten 2-1 by Rangers in a pre-season friendly on Sunday – Alaba did not feature, but has been training with the squad.

Tokyo recorded over 3,000 daily coronavirus cases for the first time, less than a week after the Olympic Games began.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government recorded 3,177 cases of COVID-19, a record number in a single day just 24 hours on from the 2,848 on Tuesday, which represented the previous high.

Japan's capital remains under a state of emergency while the Games take place. Wednesday marked the fifth day of the competition.

Another 16 Olympics-related cases were announced by Tokyo 2020 organisers on Wednesday, taking the total to 169.

Tokyo 2020 spokesperson Masa Takaya told a news conference: "As a city resident myself and as an organiser, my heart hurts that case numbers are rising." 

Last Wednesday, when football and softball competitions began for the Olympics, the city recorded 1,359 cases.

Washington Nationals short-stop Trea Turner has been pulled mid-game on Tuesday after testing positive to COVID-19.

Turner had already hit an infield single and scored on a home run in Tuesday's game against the Philadelphia Phillies.

The 28-year-old went down the tunnel after touching down on home plate and did not re-appear to take to the field at the bottom of the first inning.

The Nationals later confirmed that Turner's premature removal was due to testing positive to COVID-19.

Turner, who has hit .320/.368/.519 in 95 games this season with 124 hits and 18 home runs, has been linked with a move away from Washington ahead of Friday's MLB Trade Deadline.

The second Twenty20 International of the series between Sri Lanka and India has been put back a day after Krunal Pandya tested positive for coronavirus.

Pandya was in the India team that won the first match by 38 runs in Colombo on Sunday, but the all-rounder returned a positive test ahead of the second game scheduled to take place on Tuesday.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) revealed eight members of the touring party were identified as close contacts with Pandya, so they have been forced into isolation.

Sri Lanka and India will instead contest the second game on Wednesday, with the third and final game of the series taking place on Thursday.

The BCCI revealed RT-PCR tests were undertaken to discover if there has been any further outbreak in the squad.

"Some days you've just got to attack the f*****g mountain, that's as simple as it is."

Those were the words of Adam Peaty during his pre-camp for Tokyo 2020. And boy has he attacked that mountain.

Five years ago, Peaty broke new ground to become an Olympic champion for the first time in Rio and set in motion a Team GB gold rush that would see them ultimately finish second in the medal table.

On this occasion, there was no world record – the only thing that is sure to secretly irritate this perfectionist who revels in finding new ways to push the limits of what is humanly possible – but not for the first time Peaty obliterated the competition to once again win Olympic gold in the 100 metres breaststroke.se

Whether his success can have the same sort of rousing effect on Team GB, only time will tell.

What is more certain is that Peaty must surely now be considered among the pantheon of Olympic greats.

At one stage in 2021, the 26-year-old was in possession of the 20 fastest 100m breaststroke times in history. It is mind-boggling dominance.

When the great Usain Bolt used to race there was a real awe about the way in which he had his opponents beaten by the time he was on the start line. It was mesmerising watching the sprint king, who just seemed to defy logic.

Peaty in the pool exudes a similar feeling. To witness this phenomenon in person is some experience. If you blink you might miss him.

Following his victory in the heats on Sunday, Peaty described Tokyo 2020 as "weird" without the crowds – with fans of course absent due to the coronavirus pandemic – and conceded it did "not feel like an Olympics".

He does have a point. Peaty's moment of triumph came on a day where Ariarne Titmus defeated Katie Ledecky in an epic to clinch the women's 400m freestyle – a race that really did deserve a full house – and Caeleb Dressel, tipped as an heir to American great Michael Phelps, won the first of what is likely to be multiple gold medals at these Games.

Such stars deserve a captivated audience. The cheers of their team-mates offered only slight consolation that their moments of glory are taking place in surreal circumstances.

But there is nothing strange now about seeing Peaty dominate in the pool and while the circumstances compared to his first crowning moment in Brazil could scarcely be more different, he continues to enhance his status as a supreme champion.

His latest victory was a moment of history – no British swimmer had ever defended an Olympic title before. Only three other swimmers from Britain have ever won multiple golds, and he is just the second man to defend the 100m breaststroke title after Japan's Kosuke Kitajima.

When you think of the great athletes Britain has produced – Steve Redgrave, Kelly Holmes, Chris Hoy, Laura Kenny, Jason Kenny – all belong in the category of elite Olympians.

That Peaty now too belongs in that same category is not even a debate. He is a cool competitor, but he is also a ferocious one. A contemplator, a thinker, a man who self-described himself as "liberated" by the circumstances of the past year, time that saw him become a father and learn to appreciate the important things in life as lockdowns and restrictions became the norm for us all.

What is scary is that you feel there is still new ground for Peaty, unbeaten in his event since 2014, to break.

Speaking prior to the Games, Peaty opened up about what makes him the athlete he is.

"It sounds very cliche but I'm very obsessed with continual improvement and pushing the boundaries of what's possible," he said then. 

"I don't want to end my career and go 'oh I could have done that or I should have done this'. It's that relationship with the team that makes me that person. But I think it's also I just love to race, I love to scrap and I like to dominate. That's why I swim, that's why I race it gives me something I can't get in normal life."

And even now with all he has achieved there still seems to be an unquenchable thirst to be the best, no taking the foot off the gas in a continued desire to go where no one has been before.

"No one is invincible, everyone can be beaten," he told a news conference following his victory in Tokyo.

"I'm a firm believer in that. If I didn't believe in that I wouldn't have the world record, it's about setting no limits. 

"Today could have gone either way. It's a morning final, you saw it this morning with such a close race with Ledecky and Titmus, it could have gone either way.

"Everyone is beatable, it's who wants it more and who is invested more in those races."

For most, owning the world record and becoming a double Olympic champion would be well beyond the pinnacle of the mountain.

For Peaty, it seems certain he will just keep on f*****g attacking it.

Jon Rahm has been ruled out of competing at the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for COVID-19.

The Spanish Olympic Committee announced the world number one had returned a positive result on his third PCR test after competing at The Open at Royal St George's, having previously recorded two negative outcomes ahead of his appearance at the Games.

American Bryson DeChambeau was also ruled out of competing for the same reason on Sunday, having not yet travelled to play in Japan.

For Rahm, it is the second time he has tested positive in as many months. He had to withdraw from the Memorial Tournament on the PGA Tour when leading by six shots after 54 holes.

The 26-year-old won the U.S. Open upon his return to action, securing the first major of his career by one shot thanks to a birdie-birdie finish on a dramatic Sunday at Torrey Pines.

With a shortage of time and considering the health protocols in place for the Olympics, a replacement will not be selected. Spain still has one competitor left in the field in Adri Arnaus, the world number 166.

As for DeChambeau, he admitted to being "deeply disappointed" at missing out on Tokyo.

"Representing my country means the world to me and it is was a tremendous honour to make this team," he said in a statement released by the PGA Tour.

"I wish Team USA the best of luck next week in Tokyo. I will now focus on getting healthy, and I look forward to returning to competition once I am cleared to do so."

Patrick Reed will replace him, provided he clears coronavirus tests scheduled on Sunday and Monday before departing for Japan.

 

The quarantine experience has become routine for those travelling the world to play or watch sport during the coronavirus crisis.

It has been that way in Japan for the Tokyo Olympics. Depending on which country you arrive from, there may be a period of isolation to tolerate before being allowed to participate in the Games.

This has been the case for Stats Perform's journalist on the ground, Peter Hanson, who is approaching the end of a three-day quarantine at his hotel in order to comply with the rules for UK residents working in a media capacity in the Japanese capital.

Here, he provides five tips on how to survive quarantine…

Tip 1: Binge on Netflix

Admittedly this isn't a particularly novel idea but when you're pretty much confined to a hotel room for three days what better way to pass the time than with some easy watching?

It doesn't have to be Netflix…there are plenty of other streaming services available of course. But, right now I'm powering through the US version of The Office (even if that makes me feel a little traitorous towards the original UK edition, which – sorry folks – remains the significantly better show).

Tip 2: Reading

It's good to come prepared. Having undertaken a 12-and-a-half-hour flight to get to Tokyo before the three days of isolation even began, having a good book (or even a bad one really) just made good sense.

I'm a big fan of Harlan Coben's work, so with me in Tokyo is his thriller 'The Boy in the Woods', and also a book about the world's greatest football team…Sheffield Wednesday, penned by Sheffield Star journalist Alex Miller.

Tip 3: Bring out the bangers…

Admittedly this tip comes on the back of a bit of a head loss…but when in the moment, you have to fully embrace it folks!

Crack on with your Spotify, your Apple Music, or wherever you get your tunes from and let the music take control! Friday's morning get-up song for me belonged to Ronan Keating because, well, life is a rollercoaster right now…

Tip 4: Sick tricks!

This one is inspired by one of my best friends back home, who will often yell "sick tricks!" before doing something pretty juvenile or a very basic skill with the confidence and gusto of a trapeze artist… and it gets a laugh from me pretty much every time.

Luckily, just before I left my house in Sheffield I spotted a tennis ball to take with me and – recalling the feats of skills posted by several ATP and WTA stars online during their own Australian Open quarantines – decided to have a go at some of my own tennis-ball tricks…it did not go particularly well.

Tip 5: Work, work, work...

No, not the Rihanna song... although playing that on repeat would absolutely be a great way to spend your time in quarantine.

What I'm alluding to is the fact that at some point during a three-day quarantine, some work will have to be done.

Only, in this case I got distracted by my Football Manager save and decided that was also a pretty decent way to kill some time…

Graham Arnold revealed he had "visualised" Australia's impressive 2-0 win over Argentina in their Olympics opener – and said keeping Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona out of conversations was all-important.

Australia head coach Arnold saw his Olyroos team strike a major victory for the underdog with their Tokyo 2020 success in Sapporo, where goals from Lachlan Wales and Marco Tilio did the damage.

Although the Argentina team this year does not carry the same star quality as the 2004 and 2008 sides that featured Carlos Tevez and Lionel Messi respectively, the South Americans were expected to be on a high after their senior side lifted the Copa America trophy earlier this month.

Arnold's Australian troops were highly impressive in the Group C tussle, however, even though their coach still saw room for improvement.

"Nobody would have given us a chance apart from us. I've been visualising this performance for the last couple of weeks, I even visualised the score," Graham said.

"I believe in these boys and I believe so much in them that I'm not happy with our overall performance. I was happy with the work rate, the energy, but at times we turned over the ball too simply and too easily. We need to improve as we go on, and we will."

 

Arnold pointed to Australia having only one previous Olympic men's football win in the 2000s, a 5-1 win over Serbia and Montenegro in 2004 at the Athens Games.

"It's a great win, but we've done nothing yet. It's three points, we're off to a great start, the first win, but the important thing is improvement," the coach added.

"We didn't mention the name of the opposition, it's all about us. Sometimes when you mention a nation like Argentina's name, everyone just starts thinking of the players, Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, and Copa America champions.

"It was more about focusing on ourselves for the last week and making sure all the players knew their roles, their jobs and building a lot of belief in the players that we could go out there and put in a good performance and win the game."

He vowed Australia were "here to compete for a gold medal" and offered up the victory to those locked down in Australia during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

"It was probably the last thing I mentioned to the players before they went on the pitch," he said. "Australia, New South Wales in particular, is going through a very tough time at the moment with COVID, with lockdown and I just said to the boys, 'A lot of families are locked down at home, let's put a smile on a lot of Australian faces tonight, give them a performance they will remember'.

"I really expect that a lot of people back at home who didn't give us much chance of winning before really enjoyed that. I expect we put a lot of smiles on a lot of faces ... for tonight anyway."

The journey towards Tokyo 2020 has been a long and uncertain one.

Postponed by 12 months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic that continues to wreak havoc across the globe, it was by no means certain the Olympics would happen at all.

But here we are, just a day away from the opening ceremony as the last of the athletes, officials and world's media descend on the Japanese capital for a Games like no other.

Here, Stats Perform's reporter on the ground, Peter Hanson, documents his journey from Sheffield to Tokyo in a behind-the-curtain look at what it has taken to be part of the Olympics.

ONLINE SYSTEMS AND IMPORTANT ORGANISED FUN

For me and thousands of others, the trip to Tokyo technically started months in advance. To put it lightly, the organisers absolutely love an online system. 

There's a system for accommodation details, there's a system for arrivals and departures at the airport, there's a system for registering health information, there's a system for each media organisation to nominate a Covid Liaison Officer (CLO) – whose job it is to inform Tokyo 2020 of any positive COVID-19 tests within the team. Given I'm the only full-time Stats Perform member on the ground in Tokyo that responsibility fell to me and I am responsible for…well, me.

On top of that, there's an Activity Plan to fill out, send back and ultimately get approval for by the Japanese government. 

Admittedly, on the surface you may think this all sounds like a bit of "organised fun" but in truth it's an extremely important part of the process as it allows you to list all the venues you plan on visiting for the first 14 days of your stay in Tokyo. Getting this ratified is crucial because for those first two weeks you have to agree not to stray anywhere outside of those destinations or your hotel, while the use of public transport is not permitted.

A day before I travelled, I received a call from Tokyo 2020 to tell me my plan will be approved on the condition I agree to quarantine for three days at my hotel due to conditions on UK residents entering Japan amid a spike in coronavirus cases in Britain.

GO WITH THE (LATERAL) FLOW

With all of that (finally) taken care of, the path is fiddly yet relatively clear – but it's a path that involves testing, testing and testing again.

Indeed, against the wisdom of our parents who tell us from a very young age not to stick foreign objects in our orifices, I start the process of taking a lateral flow test every day a fortnight out from my flight to Tokyo.

As each day progresses, the results of these tests become more and more nervy as any positive case at that point would have almost certainly curtailed any hopes I had of covering the Games from Tokyo and ensured months of stress amounted to nought.

Then the really crucial tests come just days before departure. To enter Japan, a certificate of a negative test must be produced – one within 96 hours of take-off and one within 72.  

Helpfully, the British Olympics Association helped facilitate these tests via Randox, a private testing company, and both certificates arrived with ample time before my flight.

THE DAY OF…

So, with activity plans in place and tests conducted the real "fun" could begin…

My own personal journey on the day began with a 6am wake-up alarm in order to take one last lateral flow test, prior to a 10am train from Sheffield to London St Pancras. From there, it's another hour on the Piccadilly line getting from central London to Heathrow Airport.

At this stage it's time to let you into a little personal secret. I am one of "those" people. The kind of people who like to arrive around six weeks early at the airport to make sure I'm on time for my flight…

I was at the airport six hours before my flight, which meant I had two hours to kill before I could even check in my case and, understandably, a contingent from TeamGB has first dibs on processing their luggage to delay things a little longer.

The check-in process at this stage was relatively normal, bar having to show proof of the negative COVID certificate, and the journey through security was also straightforward.

By the time I was at the other side, there was still around three hours until departure leaving ample time for that age-old British tradition…a beer and burger at Wetherspoons.

APP WOE AND LENGHTY WAITS AT HANEDA

By now (partly due to my own being late to the airport anxiety) the journey to Tokyo had already lasted around nine hours…now there was just the little matter of a 12-and-a-half-hour flight to Haneda Airport to get through.

The flight itself was nothing out of the ordinary, save for a few bumpy moments of turbulence. It was your standard fill out the customs forms, eat the flight food (I'm one of those strange folk who actually quite enjoys the in-flight meals…) and watch the on-board entertainment. My choices were "Avengers: Endgame", "Joker" and couple of episodes of the Big Bang Theory…yes, I know, the last one is completely rubbish but I needed something to pass the time as any attempt at sleep was now futile!

So, the flight itself was pretty mundane but this was where the sleep-deprived hard work began.

As soon as everyone stepped off the plane, we were split into two lines. One for domestic arrivals, who sailed onto immigration with a breeze. The other, significantly longer, line was for media and other Games-related stakeholders.

This was the start of the more arduous part of the process. Remember earlier when I mentioned the love of systems? Well, one of them was to have downloaded and logged into a health app named OCHA designed specifically for the Games which I was supposed to have signed into using my accreditation details…the only problem for me is it wasn't working and hadn't been for weeks. Whenever I tried to log in, I was just get greeted by an error message and weeks of back-and-forth with the relevant helpline had not yielded success.

Now, having OCHA was supposed to be a prerequisite to get into the country but luckily there was a workaround whereby I could fill out an online health questionnaire and print off a written pledge. Sounds simple enough, but it turns out the issue of the app not working was not exactly rare…

At this stage, it's only fair to pay credit to the rushed staff at Haneda, going round taking accreditation numbers, liaising with Games officials and eventually helping the hordes of media and officials progress to the next part of the process after over a groggy two-hour wait.

VALIDATION AND LAMINATION

After that painstaking delay, the remainder of the airport process was lengthy but impressively smooth.

Firstly, there's the small case of another COVID test. I first of all registered and picked up the sample kits and proceeded to the next room, which looked a little like something out of a sci-fi movie and entered a private booth. The only difference here, at least for me was that, instead of using swabs like back in the UK, the method of choice is a saliva antigen test where you essentially spit into a tube until you have enough of a sample to be analysed. It's about as grim as it sounds.

Feeling slightly disgusting, my sample was dropped off and there was another lengthy walk through to the holding area where I waited for my test number to appear on a screen, almost like being at a deli counter in the supermarket.

After around an hour, I received a negative result and the finish line was almost in sight. But first, it was time to get my accreditation validated.

Again, the logistics of this process were pretty flawless – it takes a good five-to-10 minutes to reach the accreditation desk but the route is perfectly sign-posted and in no time at all I have my fancy laminated accreditation on a lanyard, which will be used to get into all venues for the Games.

At last, it was time to go through immigration, whereby I underwent the typical scrutiny you face when entering a country, and – much to my delight – despite a three-and-a-half-hour process, my luggage was still waiting on the carousel at the other side.

SHUTTLE BUSES AND FANCY TAXI DOORS

This is nothing against Haneda, or the awesome people organising this huge logistical task, but it was a real relief to be leaving the airport.

Feeling a little like a D-list Hollywood actor, when I arrived in the departures hall I was whisked off outside by more helpful staff towards a shuttle bus, which took me to a taxi pick-up point around 20 minutes away.

Here, each person was assigned to an individual vehicle. After several attempts to open the passenger door, a kind lady helpfully pointed out that they are automatic and will open when the driver enters the car…needless to say the sight of the door swinging open of its own accord blew my tiny South Yorkshire mind.

Another 20-minute journey followed until – at last – I arrived at my hotel, checked-in and settled down into my room…some 27 hours after leaving Sheffield.

The Tokyo Olympics officially got underway on Wednesday as hosts Japan defeated Australia 8-1 in softball in Fukushima.

The commencement of softball, which returns to the Olympics for the first time since 2008, precedes Friday's Opening Ceremony for the controversial Tokyo Olympics.

Softball, along with women's football, both begin on Wednesday, with men's football to commence on Thursday.

Australia registered the first run of the Olympics when Michelle Cox touched down on home plate in the first inning but Japan raced away with the win.

Naito Minori hit a two-run home run at the bottom of the third inning to open up a 3-1 lead for Japan. The hosts added three runs in the fourth, aided by a two-run home run to left field from Yamato Fujita, before Yu Yamamoto homered in the fifth.

In the opening day of softball, Italy are also due to play the United States, followed by Mexico and Canada in Fukushima.

The 2020 Games, delayed by a year due to the global health pandemic, will be held mostly without spectators due to a state of emergency being declared in Tokyo.

The number of new coronavirus cases in the Japanese capital topped 1,000 for five days running before dropping to 727 on Monday.

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