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18 test matches are supposed to be held in Tokyo Olympics. Pixabay

TOKYO – Local organizers on Friday announced a series of 18 test events set to begin in March and run into May. The Tokyo Olympics are set to open on July 23, 2021, after being postponed eight months ago because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The announcement in an online news conference came the same day that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government reported a one-day record of 570 new coronavirus infections in the capital. Although Japan has handled the pandemic better than most countries, cases have been surging recently with about 2,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in a country of 125 million.


Officials said at least four of the test events will involve athletes from abroad, including tests in swimming, gymnastics, diving, and volleyball.

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A track and field meet on May 9 at the new National Stadium is listed as a test event. It is not clear if athletes from abroad will participate. Hidemasa Nakamura, the games delivery officer, said none of the test events will allow fans from abroad, although some events will permit an unspecified number of fans from Japan.

“No, we will not have spectators from abroad,” Nakamura said. Several of the events will not even involve athletes, testing “operations” only as a way to cut back on spending.

Japan has held sports events recently with fans. The final game of the Japan Series of professional baseball this week drew about 19,000 fans in a 38,000-seat stadium in Fukuoka. And a few thousand fans were allowed to attend an international gymnastics event earlier this month in Tokyo.


Tokyo Olympics were scheduled to start in July 2020 but got delayed due to covid19. Pixabay

“As for the number of spectators, we have to take the guidelines of the Japanese government into consideration,” said Yasuo Mori, who works with Nakamura on game delivery. The announcement by the Tokyo organizing committee is the latest in a campaign over the last several months to convince a global audience, sponsors, and the Japanese public that the Olympics and Paralympics will take place despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Organizers are to announce a “toolbox” of preliminary countermeasures next month against COVID-19, although they are likely to be vague and subject to many changes going into next year.

WATCH POLITICAL DOCUMENTARY TRANSPARENCY: PARDARSHITA.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, who was in Tokyo this month to talk up the games, acknowledged much of the planning hinges around the availability of vaccines and rapid testing.

He said they were not a “silver bullet” but certainly would be a help along with social distancing, masks, and near-quarantine conditions in the Athletes Village. Bach said athletes would not be required to take a vaccine. He said young Olympic athletes were not a priority ahead of millions of health care workers, the elderly, and other vulnerable populations.

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Bach suggested the IOC would cover some of the cost of the vaccine, but he gave no details as the cost continues to climb because of the postponement. Tokyo says it is officially spending $12.6 billion to organize the Olympics, although a government audit last year said it was probably twice that much.

Games officials say a full complement of 11,000 Olympic athletes and 4,400 Paralympic athletes will be allowed into Japan, accompanied by tens of thousands of officials, judges, VIPs, sponsors, media, and broadcasters. (IANS)


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Indian wrestler Ravi Kumar (57kg) and Deepak Punia (86kg) enjoyed fruitful outings at the Tokyo Olympic Games as they secured semifinal berths in their respective weight categories at the Makuhari Messe on Wednesday.

On the opening day of the wrestling competition, Ravi Kumar defeated Bulgaria's Georgi Vangelov 14-4 on technical superiority to reach the last-four in the men's 57kg category, while compatriot Deepak Punia overcame China's Zushen Lin 6-3 on points to advance to the semifinals.

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Earlier, Ravi Kumar had won his opening-round bout by technical superiority against Colombia's Oscar Tigreros to secure a quarterfinal spot. Competing in the Round-of-16 bout against the Colombian wrestler, the 23-year-old Ravi Kumar, who is making his Olympic debut, showed no nerves as he dominated the bout to win by technical superiority (13-2).

Ravi Kumar landed attack after attack and went 13-2 up, winning the bout by technical superiority with minutes to spare. In wrestling, building up a 10-point lead over the opponent results in a victory by technical superiority.

India's 86kg freestyle wrestler Deepak Punia showed no signs of the niggle that had forced him to pull out of the Poland Open Ranking Series in Warsaw in June, as he defeated Nigeria's Ekerekeme Agiomor on technical superiority to secure a quarterfinal berth.

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Punia, who had also suffered an elbow injury just before the Games, was slow at the start but came into his own as the bout progressed, inflicting takedowns at regular intervals to earn points.

The Indian wrestler eased into a 4-1 lead at the break and extended his lead comfortably in the second period.

Punia, the silver medallist from the 2019 world wrestling championships, then set up a clash with China's Lin Zushen in the quarterfinals and defeated him 6-3.

(IANS/HP)