It’s Saturday, July 31 in Tokyo. There are eight days left in the Olympics, and this weekend is jam-packed with events. Here’s what’s happening in the Japanese capital, both in the sports world and on its periphery.
Japan’s surprising success: We’re a week into the Tokyo Olympics, and Japan already has 17 gold medals — a new record for the country. Only China, with 19, has more.
Those wins have helped fan some excitement in Tokyo. Ahead of the Games, polls showed a majority of residents disapproved of the government’s decision to trudge ahead with a major sporting event in the middle of a coronavirus state of emergency. But TV ratings in Japan show people are tuning in to watch, and there’s excitement in the air. On the streets of Tokyo, many are trying to revel in their nation’s success while still abiding by the public health measures the government has in place.
The pandemic looms: Japan’s sporting success does not mean all is well in the capital. Covid-19 cases continues to surge, with authorities saying on Friday they had identified another 3,300 infections. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga extended the state of emergency for the Tokyo metropolitan area and Okinawa, and expanded a state of emergency to four other prefectures — Saitama, Chiba, Osaka and Kanagawa — until August 31.
The Japan Medical Association, the country’s largest association of doctors, is warning that unless more is done to stop the spread of Covid-19, the country’s medical system could “collapse.”
“We have to take all the measures to avoid the explosion of infection and medical system goes under strain,” added Toshio Nakagawa, the head of the association, on Thursday.
A busy start to the weekend: Saturday began with Great Britain taking gold in the first-ever Olympic triathlon mixed team relay.
Swimming’s penultimate events kicked off shortly after, American star Caeleb Dressel winning the men’s 100 meter butterfly. His compatriot Katie Ledecky won the 800 meter freestyle, her final event of this Olympics. It was her second gold medal and last event for Tokyo 2020. The British won the final event of the day, the mixed 4×100 meter medley relay.
Other major events to watch out for:
- It’s a big day for tennis. World no.1 Novak Djokovic will play for bronze in the men’s singles after his shock semifinal defeat to Germany’s Alexander Zverev. The women’s gold medal match comes later in the day, with the Czech Republic’s Marketa Vondrousova taking on Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic. It all ends with an interesting match-up in the mixed doubles bronze medal match, in which the men’s and women’s no.1 — Ashleigh Barty of Australia and Serbia’s Djokovic — take the court against each other. Barty is playing with John Peers and Djokovic with Nina Stojanovic.
- The gold medal match for women’s rugby takes place at 6 p.m. Tokyo time. Matches throughout the day will determine who plays for the top prize.
- The finals for men’s discus, the 4×400 meter mixed relay, and the women’s 100 meter race happen tonight.