First Tokyo Olympics competitions begin in Japan

First Tokyo Olympics competitions begin in Japan

After being postponed one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo finally began - two days ahead of its opening ceremony on Friday. 

On Wednesday, the first pitch was thrown in a softball game between Australia and Japan, as the sport returned to the Olympic stage after a 13-year absence. 

The game took place in front of empty stands due to pandemic restrictions, as Japan faces a surge in Covid cases, and that decision denied the home crowd a chance to celebrate Japan's huge victory.

The home team thrashed Australia 8-1 in the opener, before the USA then beat Italy 2-0 in the second match of the Olympic Games immediately after at Fukushima Azuma Stadium. 

The tournament kicked off at 8 p.m. EST at the Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium in Tokyo, but appeared on U.S. television Tuesday due to the 13-hour time difference, Daily Mail reported.

It was the first tournament in the Summer Games ahead of the opening ceremony scheduled for Friday.   

Although the official opening ceremony is scheduled for July 23, some competitions are traditionally held before the official start of the Games.

The tournament kicked off at 8 p.m. EST at the Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium in Tokyo, but appeared on U.S. television Tuesday due to the 13-hour time difference. 

It was the first tournament in the Summer Games ahead of the opening ceremony scheduled for Friday.   

On July 21 and 22, competitions will be held at a stadium in Fukishima to symbolize the region’s recovery from the 2011 disaster, caused by a powerful tsunami that triggered a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. The rest of softball competitions will be held in Yokohama.

The Olympic Games will be held in Tokyo between July 23 and August 8.

On Sunday, a fully-vaccinated alternate on the US women's gymnastics team tested positive for COVID-19 while training for the Olympics in Japan, amid increasing concern over the safety of the Games.

Eighteen-year-old Kara Eaker, from Kansas City, traveled to Tokyo with three other alternates and the six main athletes who are expected to compete in the Games, including defending champion Simone Biles.   

The news of her positive test was initially reported by Japanese officials on Monday morning, however they refused to name the athlete. 

She has since been identified by her coach, Al Fong, while USA Gymnastics confirmed that one of its alternate athletes had been infected and was quarantining in a local hotel. 

According to WHO-TV reporter, who spoke with Kara's coach, the teenager will go through 8-14 days of isolation, which began on Sunday.    

The gymnast is the latest in a growing line of Olympic athletes who have tested positive for COVID-19, with the increase in cases adding fresh fuel to the backlash over organisers' decision to push ahead with the Games, despite Japan going through a fifth wave of infections. 

On Sunday, it was announced that six British Olympic athletes and two team staff are also self-isolating in Tokyo after being identified as close contacts of a passenger who subsequently tested positive for coronavirus on their plane to Japan. 

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