Olympics Live Updates: Opening Ceremony’s Creative Director Fired Over Holocaust Joke

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Current time in Tokyo: July 22, 2:26 p.m.

Kentaro Kobayashi
Credit...©Tokyo 2020, via Associated Press

TOKYO — Just a day before the opening ceremony of the delayed Tokyo Summer Olympics, organizers of the Games dismissed Kentaro Kobayashi, the creative director of the ceremony, after video footage emerged of him making fun of the Holocaust in a comedic act in the 1990s.

At a press briefing on Thursday, Seiko Hashimoto, sounding beleaguered after a run of scandals that have plagued the Games and the creative staff of the opening ceremony in particular, said she had learned on Wednesday about the routine, in which Mr. Kobayashi joked about “massacring Jews” in a skit while miming the act of cutting up human figures made of paper. The organizing committee, she said, decided to dismiss him “immediately.”

In a statement, Mr. Kobayashi said that he had regretted the routine after he made it and “started aiming to create comedies that don’t hurt others.”

“I understand that my choice of words was wrong, and regret it,” his statement said. “I apologize to those who felt displeasure.”

The organizing committee, in an official statement, said Mr. Kobayashi had “made a mockery of a painful historic fact in the past” and apologized “for having caused troubles and concerns to many stakeholders, and residents of Tokyo and Japan.”

The swift decision to dismiss Mr. Kobayashi was in contrast to the resignation earlier this week of Keigo Oyamada, a composer who had written music for the opening ceremony, after excerpts from interviews he had given in the 1990s confessing to severe bullying and abuse of disabled classmates surfaced on social media.

Mr. Oyamada at first apologized, and it appeared he would keep his job before a widespread campaign on social media prompted him to resign. “We should have dismissed Mr. Oyamada sooner,” said Ms. Hashimoto.

Mr. Kobayashi is the second creative director of the opening ceremony to step down. In March, Hiroshi Sasaki resigned after a magazine revealed that he had compared a popular comedian and plus-size fashion designer to a pig when proposing her participation in the ceremony. Mr. Sasaki’s resignation came just weeks after Yoshiro Mori, the former president of the Tokyo organizing committee, also resigned after making sexist comments about women.

On Twitter, some people questioned why Mr. Kobayashi was being fired for an old routine, but others said his dismissal was not sufficient. “Kentaro Kobayashi’s dismissal after the discovery of the Holocaust skit in the past is a quick measure,” wrote one poster. “But are they going to perform what this guy directed at tomorrow’s opening ceremony? Is the problem solved just because he was dismissed?”

Asked if she regretted going forward with the Games amid the unfurling scandals and rising coronavirus cases in the Olympic Village, Ms. Hashimoto acknowledged that the Tokyo organizers are “facing every single possible problem.” But, she said, “we want you to remember Tokyo for overcoming a lot of issues and having success.”

Hikari Hida and Makiko Inoue contributed reporting

The U.S. women’s soccer team after its 3-0 loss to Sweden on Wednesday.
Credit...Doug Mills/The New York Times

TOKYO — The U.S. women’s soccer team arrived at the Olympics full of confidence, riding a two-year unbeaten streak. It woke up Thursday morning wondering how everything had gone so wrong in its opening game, a 3-0 defeat against Sweden.

“I don’t even know how many goals we have given up this whole year,” U.S. midfielder Megan Rapinoe said. (The answer is one, in 12 matches.)

“I don’t remember the last time we gave up a goal,” she added. “So to give up three is not great.”

What happens now? The good news for the United States, as several veteran players pointed out on Wednesday night, is that all is not lost. The team will move on quickly to its next two group-stage games, against New Zealand on Saturday and Australia on Tuesday.

Better efforts in those will ensure a place among the eight teams that advance to the medal round, a knockout stage where fitness, experience and talent can make even a disturbing stumble a distant memory.

Trouble could lurk after that: The runner-up in the Americans’ group would play the winner of the group that includes the Netherlands (which hung 10 goals on Zambia on Wednesday) or Brazil (and the former United States coach Pia Sundhage). But those are worries for next week.

“We put ourselves in a big hole,” U.S. Coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “But we are the only ones who can get ourselves out of it.”

For the moment, the U.S. players, speaking with either sage wisdom or wishful thinking, are preaching patience.

“We weren’t going to breeze through six games no matter what,” forward Christen Press said. “So here we are.”

Rapinoe, after watching Wednesday’s implosion, seemed to speak to her team, its fans and everyone else preaching doom when she said, “You want to put a mirror in front of everyone and say: ‘Relax. We’re good.’”

By next week, everyone will find out if she is right.

Monica Abbott celebrated with teammates during the U.S. win.
Credit...Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

TOKYO — Behind the powerful left arm of Monica Abbott, the top-ranked United States softball team sneaked by third-ranked Canada, 1-0, on Thursday at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium.

Abbott tossed a complete-game shutout, allowing just one hit, walking three and striking out nine. The day before, her fellow American ace Cat Osterman tossed six scoreless innings and struck out nine while surrendering just one hit to Italy. Abbott came in for the final inning to secure the 2-0 win.

So in two games, Osterman, 38, and Abbott, 35 — who both played in the last Olympic softball tournament, in 2008 — have combined to allow just two hits, give up three walks and strike out a whopping 21 batters.

Pumping 70-mile-an-hour fastballs, Abbott vexed Canada’s offense all game on Thursday. And when she did cough up a hit in the sixth inning, her teammates came to the rescue.

With a runner on first base, Canada’s starting pitcher, Sara Groenewegen, smacked a double into the right-center field gap. But center fielder Haylie McCleney chased down the ball and fired it to second baseman Ali Aguilar, who relayed it to catcher Aubree Munro in time to nab a sliding Joey Lye at home.

The defensive play preserved Abbott’s gem, and Ken Eriksen, the team’s head coach, stuck with her for the final inning.

On offense, the U.S. threatened with base runners throughout the game but struggled again to convert its chances. Its lone run came in the fifth inning, when McCleney reached on a one-out single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Janie Reed.

Facing Jenna Caira, Amanda Chidester slapped a ball to right field for a single that scored McCleney. Standing at first base, Chidester pumped her arms and shouted toward her teammates.

No softball games are scheduled for Friday as the tournament shifts to Yokohama Baseball Stadium, closer to Tokyo. The U.S. will next play on Saturday, facing Mexico. After each team plays five games, the top two teams in the six-team field advance to the gold medal game.

Canada and the United States faced off on Thursday after each won their first game of the tournament.
Credit...Jorge Silva/Reuters

TOKYO — It’s Thursday at the Olympic Games, or as it is officially known, “Day Negative 1.” (The opening ceremony is on Friday.)

The fire hose of sports that will start spewing on Saturday is still but a trickle, but there are several events of note.

The Tokyo morning features three more softball games. The United States beat Canada, 1-0, as pitcher Monica Abbott tossed a complete-game shutout. Mexico-Japan and Australia-Italy matchups follow.

Then in the Tokyo afternoon and evening, soccer resumes, this time the men instead of the women. The United States did not qualify for the men’s tournament, which is made up mostly of younger professionals.

The highlights of the eight games are Mexico-France in Tokyo at 5 p.m. (4 a.m. Eastern on Thursday) and Brazil-Germany in Yokohama at 8:30 p.m. (7:30 a.m. Eastern on Thursday). In the 2016 Games in Rio, Brazil beat Germany in the gold medal game in a penalty shootout.

Here’s how to watch in the United States:

All times are Eastern.

U.S. and Canada at 8 p.m. on Wednesday on NBC Sports Network.

Japan against Mexico at 11 p.m., on NBCSN.

Italy against Australia at 2 a.m. Thursday on NBCSN.

Mexico against France at 4 a.m. on USA Network.

Brazil against Germany at 7:30 a.m. on USA Network.

The opening ceremony is scheduled for Friday night in Tokyo. But the time difference with Tokyo means it will be Friday morning in the United States.

NBC will have a live morning broadcast of the ceremony, starting at 6:55 a.m. Eastern time. Savannah Guthrie, the anchor for “Today,” and NBC Sports’ Mike Tirico will host the ceremony.

Similar to years past, the network will air a packaged prime-time version of the ceremony at 7:30 p.m. Eastern on Friday.

In addition to NBC, Olympic events will be shown on the Golf Channel, NBC Olympics, NBC Sports Network, Telemundo and USA Network. Events will also be streamed on NBCOlympics.com, NBCSports.com and Peacock, the network’s streaming platform.

After the opening ceremony, the Tokyo Games will stretch across 16 days, culminating in the closing ceremony on Aug. 8.

Outside the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo. The decision to hold events without spectators has proved divisive.
Credit...Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

More athletes were in action on Thursday in Tokyo, the second full day of Olympic competition before Friday’s opening ceremony, with softball games in the morning and men’s soccer kicking off later in the day.

Off the field, organizers are still struggling to reassure residents that the thousands of arriving athletes won’t worsen the spread of Covid-19 in Tokyo. And a new rash of cases has sidelined more players and teams, including Mexico’s entire baseball squad, which is now in quarantine back home and waiting for clearance to travel.

While only two sports — soccer and softball — have officially started play, there are already signs that players will take advantage of rules that allow for more activism and protests before the start of a game. On Wednesday, members of four women’s soccer teams took a knee before their matches.

The U.S. women’s soccer team began the tournament the way it had ended the 2016 games in Rio: by losing to Sweden.

Back then, the quarterfinal loss cost them a chance at the gold medal. This time, the 3-0 defeat on Wednesday ended the team’s streak of 44 straight games without a loss. The U.S., which has won four gold medals, was one of the favorites to win it all, coming off a title in the 2019 World Cup.

The U.S. side now has two days to regroup before its next match, on Saturday against New Zealand. That and Tuesday’s match with Australia are likely must-wins if the U.S. women want to collect enough points to qualify for the next round, where they could face powerhouses like Britain, Brazil and the Netherlands.

Having delayed these games by a year because of the pandemic, Tokyo organizers made some major concessions for the event to happen this year, including barring spectators, which has proved divisive. But the steps have done little to assuage the concerns of people across Japan, where numbers of cases are rising.

Athletes who have tested positive for the coronavirus

Scientists say that positive tests are expected with daily testing programs, even among the vaccinated. Little information on severity has been released, though public reports suggest that cases among athletes have generally been mild or asymptomatic. Some athletes who have tested positive have not been publicly identified.

July 21

Candy Jacobs

Netherlands

Skateboarding

Netherlands

Pavel Sirucek

Czech Republic

Table tennis

Czech Republic

July 20

Kara Eaker

United States

Gymnastics

United States

July 19

Ondrej Perusic

Czech Republic

Beach volleyball

Czech Republic

Katie Lou Samuelson

United States

Three-on-three basketball

United States

July 18

Coco Gauff

United States

Tennis

United States

Kamohelo Mahlatsi

South Africa

Soccer

South Africa

Thabiso Monyane

South Africa

Soccer

South Africa

Among athletes, officials and others working at the Games, 91 people have tested positive for the coronavirus as of Thursday, including 10 athletes, according to New York Times reporting. That tally does not include those who tested positive before arrival in Japan. Two players on Mexico’s baseball team tested positive before the team’s scheduled departure to Tokyo, forcing the team into quarantine in Mexico City. Several players, including some from the U.S., will miss the Games after positive tests.

Just two weeks ago, the English men’s soccer team grabbed headlines when its players knelt to highlight racism before games in the Euro 2020 tournament. While the team lost the championship to Italy, it helped highlight causes that were important to the players and drew the ire of some politicians in England.

At the Olympics, organizers relaxed rules, allowing players to protest before games, although not during play or at the awarding of medals. So far, the women’s soccer teams from Chile, the United States, Sweden and Britain have taken a knee.

Viewers should prepare for more protests on Friday at the opening ceremony and over the coming weeks of events, according to Tommie Smith, who famously raised a fist to highlight the oppression of Black Americans when he was awarded the gold medal for the 200 meters in track and field in Mexico City in 1968.

Read the New York Times interview with him on what to expect.

The 2020 games haven’t even officially started, and we are already talking about the host for 2032: Brisbane. It’s the third-largest city in Australia, located on the country’s east coast near the surfing meccas of the Gold Coast. It’s the third time Australia will host the games.

The decision to name Brisbane as the 2032 host probably didn’t come as a surprise to one person: John Coates. He’s one of the vice presidents for the International Olympic Committee, which wrote the new rules for selecting a host. He also happens to head the Australian Olympic Committee, the group that pitched the bid.

Read Tariq Panja’s profile on Coates and how he led the charge to bring the Games back to Australia.

Ona Carbonell competing in Gwangju, South Korea, at the world championships in 2019. 
Credit...Clive Rose/Getty Images

The Spanish artistic swimmer Ona Carbonell is expressing her “disappointment and disillusionment” that it is not practical to bring her son to Japan for the Tokyo Olympics while she is breastfeeding him.

Carbonell said in an Instagram video this week that she would not take her son, Kai, who is nearly a year old, to the Games. She said she had to choose between her family and her Olympic goals in artistic swimming, the sport formerly known as synchronized swimming.

“A few weeks ago, some female athletes started posting about this on social media,” she said in Spanish in the video as she breastfed her son. “The subject was to choose between family and breastfeeding or to participate in the Olympic Games.”

“We were told this was not compatible,” she said.

At the end of June, the Tokyo organizing committee loosened a restriction on bringing infants who are nursing to the Games. But the conditions imposed still made it difficult for mothers, Carbonell said, because children would have to stay in a hotel outside of the Olympic confines and under strict quarantine.

“They wouldn’t be allowed to leave the hotel room during the 20-ish days I’d be in Tokyo,” Carbonell said. “For me to go and breastfeed Kai whenever he needs it during the day I would have to leave the Olympic villa, the team’s bubble, and go to their hotel, risking my team’s health.”

Carbonell, 31, is competing in her third Olympics. She won a silver medal in the duet competition and a bronze medal in the team competition in London in 2012, and placed fourth in the duet competition in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

In a message accompanying the Instagram video, she said that while she had received “countless expressions of support and encouragement to go to Tokyo with Kai,” she “wanted to express my disappointment and disillusionment that I will finally have to travel without him.”

The International Olympic Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment about her video.

Correction: July 21, 2021

An earlier version of this story described Carbonell’s statements incorrectly. She said restrictions made it impractical to bring her son to Tokyo during the Olympics. She did not say that she had been told that he was not allowed to come at all.

Credit...Jorge Silva/Reuters

After a 13-year absence, softball has returned to the Olympic stage, with one frustrating difference: The games are being played on baseball fields rather than ones for softball.

Fans and players alike expressed disappointment across social media this week. Among the main differences is that a softball field is smaller than a baseball field, usually with an infield entirely composed of dirt. Baseball diamonds are made of a mix of dirt and grass or artificial turf.

Others, however, are less bothered.

“I don’t care what the field looks like, we’re happy it’s back & we’ve been waiting a very long time,” Danielle O’Toole Trejo, who plays for Mexico’s national team and is also a player in the Athletes Unlimited pro league in the U.S., wrote on Twitter. “Our play WILL NOT change. We’re GOOD enough to adapt.”

In both the 2004 Athens Games and the 2008 Beijing Games, the host cities built softball fields as part of their Olympics infrastructure.

Still, Jennie Finch, a former U.S. pitcher and Olympic gold and silver medalist, said playing on baseball fields is normal, adding that she played on baseball fields many times throughout her career.

For softball, the moment is big: It first became an Olympic sport in 1996, and it appeared in each Summer Games through 2008, after which it was dropped.

It has a growing global footprint, and in the U.S., it is a competitive collegiate sport without a major league home. Last August, softball was the inaugural sport in Athletes Unlimited, but even that season was only six weeks long.

“Our sport needs this,” Finch said in an interview this week. “It’s crucial for our sport globally to be in the Olympic Games and have our presence and have the platform to showcase how great of a game it is.”

Sweden celebrated its third goal against the United States.
Credit...Doug Mills/The New York Times

CHOFU, Japan — Five years. That is how long it had waited for this game.

Five years since the United States women’s soccer team’s hopes for an Olympic gold medal at the 2016 Rio Games were dashed by Sweden. Five years since a defeat that forced the Americans to look in the mirror and ask hard questions about their age, dominance and future.

Five years of waiting, only to end up right back in the same place.

The United States opened the Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday exactly where it ended the Rio Games five years earlier: reeling from a humbling, embarrassing defeat to Sweden.

Back then, it was a loss on penalties in the quarterfinals. This time, it was not nearly as close: Sweden dominated the United States, 3-0. Back then, Sweden had bunkered down and frustrated the Americans. On Wednesday, it simply dominated from one side of the field to the other.

“Did we expect this result tonight? No,” U.S. forward Megan Rapinoe said. “It’s frustrating, and it’s frustrating that it’s Sweden.”

“I don’t remember the last time we gave up a goal,” she added. “So to give up three is not great.”

Defender Kelley O’Hara acknowledged before the game that she and her teammates had been pining for another shot at the Swedes at the Games. “It’s what we’ve waited now five years for, to be back here,” she said.

They just never expected it to go like this.

Striker Stina Blackstenius delivered a goal in each half for Sweden, a glancing header in the 25th minute and a point-blank finish in the 54th that felt like a just reward for a dominant performance at the tip of a Sweden attack that had the Americans on their heels almost as soon as the game began.

The United States tried everything to turn the tide. Positional tweaks to try to aid a midfield that was routinely overrun. Substitutions to refashion a largely toothless attack. Reinforcements to bolster a defense that was first stretched and then cut apart.

Even the most reliable of veterans brought on to help seemed to have little effect. Carli Lloyd and Julie Ertz — in her first appearance in months — came on at halftime, but Sweden soon doubled its lead. Rapinoe was inserted to offer a bit of menace on the wing, but it never materialized.

Tommie Smith, center, and John Carlos raised their gloved hands in protest at the 1968 Olympics. 
Credit...Associated Press

When the American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists on the medal stand at the Mexico City Games in 1968 to protest the oppression of Black Americans, they gave voice to generations of the athletes eager to speak their minds, even as the International Olympic Committee and athletic federations try to curtail what they consider political demonstrations.

While the U.S.O.P.C. said in December that it will no longer penalize athletes who protest, the I.O.C. reaffirmed that protests during Olympic events or the medal stand are prohibited. That rule will be tested when the Tokyo Games open on Friday, Smith said in a recent interview, because athletes everywhere have been awakened in the year since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Women’s soccer players for Britain, Chile, Sweden and the United States knelt before their games on Wednesday, which fell under a relaxed I.O.C. rule that allows for demonstrations before the start of competition.

In a wide-ranging discussion following the release of “With Drawn Arms,” a documentary about his life, Smith said it was fruitless for the I.O.C. to try to muzzle athletes.

“It’s a rational thought that there’s going to be some type of change,” he said. “I think within the next three weeks, we’re going to see some change in something. I don’t know from who. That’s why the future is so important.”

Advertisers have spent more than $1 billion to run spots on NBC and its streaming platform.
Credit...Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

The Olympics have long been an almost ideal forum for companies promoting themselves, with plenty of opportunities to nestle ads among the pageantry and the feel-good stories about athletes overcoming adversity.

But now, as 11,000 competitors from more than 200 countries convene in Tokyo while the coronavirus pandemic lingers, Olympic advertisers are worried about the more than $1 billion they have spent to run ads on NBC and its Peacock streaming platform.

Calls to cancel the more than $15.4 billion extravaganza have intensified as more athletes test positive for Covid-19. The event is also deeply unpopular with Japanese citizens and many public health experts, who fear it will become a superspreader event.

The Olympics are already damaged goods,” said Jules Boykoff, a former Olympic soccer player for the United States and an expert in sports politics at Pacific University in Oregon. “If this situation in Japan goes south fast, then we could see some whipsaw changes in the way that deals are cut and the willingness of multinational companies to get involved.”

Panasonic, a top sponsor, will not send its chief executive to the opening ceremony, which is scheduled for Friday. Neither will Toyota, one of Japan’s most influential companies, which also said it had abandoned its plans to run Olympics-themed commercials in Japan.

In the United States, marketing plans are mostly moving ahead.

For NBCUniversal, which has paid billions of dollars for the exclusive rights to broadcast the Olympics in the United States through 2032, the event is a crucial source of revenue. There are more than 140 sponsors for NBC’s coverage on television, on Peacock and online, an increase over the 100 that signed on for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

“Not being there with an audience of this size and scale for some of our blue-chip advertisers is not an option,” said Jeremy Carey, the managing director of the sports marketing agency Optimum Sports.

Chris Brandt, the chief marketing officer of Chipotle, said that the situation was “not ideal” but that the company still planned to run a campaign featuring profiles of Olympic athletes.

Television has attracted the bulk of the ad spending, but the amount brought in by digital and streaming ads is expected to rise. Several forecasts predict that TV ratings for the Olympics will lag those for the Games in Rio and London, while the streaming audience will grow sharply.

Ad agency executives said companies were checking in for updates on the Covid outbreak in Japan and might fine-tune their marketing messages accordingly.

“Everyone is a little bit cautious,” said David Droga, the founder of the Droga5 ad agency, which worked on an Olympics campaign for Facebook that showcases skateboarders. “People are quite fragile at the moment. Advertisers don’t want to be too saccharine or too clever but are trying to find that right tone.”

Lucy Bronze of Britain took a knee before a match with Chile in Sapporo.
Credit...Masashi Hara/Getty Images

Britain’s women’s soccer team became the first athletes to take advantage of the loosening of the International Olympic Committee’s decades-long prohibition against expressions of protest.

Just before kicking off their 2-0 win over Chile, players on Team GB dropped to one knee in a protest to promote racial justice in a manner that has become common places on soccer fields in the United Kingdom and elsewhere over the past year. Chile’s players joined the demonstration as well, and players from the United States and Sweden also knelt before Sweden’s 3-0 win later Wednesday.

Such an action would have led to severe sanctions had the rules not been changed in the lead up to the Tokyo Olympics.

The gesture, which spread across the sporting scene after the killing of George Floyd 14 months ago, is likely to be repeated throughout the games as athletes across the spectrum have pushed for greater rights of expression. Those calls led to the organizer of the Olympics to water down Rule 50 of its charter that banned any “demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda.”

Still, for some athlete groups the I.O.C.’s change of stance has not gone far enough. Athletes will not, for example, be able to express their protests on the medal podium. The I.O.C.’s rules also allow individual sports federations to retain the ban. FIFA, soccer governing body, has said it has no problems with player protests at the Games. The same goes for track and field. However, swimming’s leaders have said they will not countenance any form of protest on the pool deck which, according to the president of its governing body, should remain “a sanctity for sport and nothing else,” where there should be “respect for the greater whole, not the individual.”

The hodgepodge of regulations raises the possibility of some athletes being sanctioned for gestures that others will have made.

“There is not really a ‘one size fits all’ solution,” I.O.C. President Thomas Bach said before the Games.

Nippon Budokan in Chiyoda ward in Tokyo on Sunday.
Credit...Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

The discovery of isolated cases, even in vaccinated athletes at the Olympics in Tokyo, is entirely expected, scientists say, and not necessarily a cause for alarm.

“This isn’t really that much of a surprise,” said Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization at the University of Saskatchewan.

Still, these cases do raise thorny questions about how to design testing programs — and respond to test results — at this phase of the pandemic, in which the patchy rollout of vaccines means that some people and communities are well protected from the virus while others remain at risk.

As Dr. Rasmussen put it: “When does a positive test really indicate that there’s a problem?”

Covid-19 tests, which were once profoundly limited, are now widely available in most of the developed world, making it possible for organizations — including private employers, schools, professional sports leagues and the Olympics organizers — to routinely screen people for the virus.

Vaccination is not required for Olympic participants, and officials are relying heavily on testing to keep the virus at bay in Tokyo. Those headed to the Games must submit two negative tests taken on separate days within 96 hours of leaving for Japan regardless of vaccination status, according to the Olympic playbooks, or manuals.

At least one of the two tests must be taken within 72 hours of departure. Participants are again tested upon arrival at the airport.

Athletes, coaches and officials are also required to take daily antigen tests, which are less sensitive than P.C.R. tests but are generally quicker and cheaper. (Olympic staff and volunteers may be tested less frequently, depending on their level of interaction with athletes and officials.) If a test comes back unclear or positive, a P.C.R. test is administered.

“Each layer of filtering is a reduction in the risk for everybody else,” Brian McCloskey, the chair of the Independent Expert Panel of the International Olympic Committee, told reporters this week, adding that the number of confirmed infections so far are “lower than we expected.”

Questions about transmission remain unsettled. Vaccinated people with asymptomatic or breakthrough infections may still be able to pass the virus on to others, but it is not yet clear how often that happens. Until that science is more definitive, or until vaccination rates rise, it is best to err on the side of safety and regular testing, many experts said.

But when you look that hard for infections — especially in a group of people who have recently flown in from all over the globe and have had varying levels of access to vaccines — you’re all but destined to find some.

Kang Can Young, a member of South Korea’s formidable national archery team, practices in her home country in April.
Credit...Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

For South Korean archers, winning Olympic gold medals feels almost like a given — they have claimed 23 of the 34 golds awarded in the sport since 1984.

It’s getting to the Games that’s tough.

Just ask Chang Hye-jin, who won two gold medals at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, or Ku Bon-chan, who pulled off the same feat on the men’s side. Neither champion made the cut this year.

Or ask Kim Je-deok, 17, who this spring successfully navigated the crucible of South Korea’s national team selection tournament, which gathers the country’s top 200 archers to vie for six tickets — for three men and three women — to the world’s biggest sporting event, with no regard for rankings or past performance.

“Once-in-a-lifetime luck came to me,” said Kim, who recently overcame a shoulder injury that would have kept him out of the Olympics if the event hadn’t been postponed by a year.

The South Korean archers fired thousands of arrows each over several rounds of grueling competition spread out over eight anxious months. For those who prevailed, the hard part might now be over.

The South Korean archery team has won gold medals at every Summer Olympics since 1984. The women’s team has been particularly dominant, winning gold eight straight times since the team event made its debut in 1988 in Seoul. At the 2016 Games, the men’s and women’s teams swept the gold medals in the team and individual events.

The team is famous in the archery world for the depth and detail of its preparations. National coaches employ wind machines and pump artificial noise (crowd sounds, camera shutters) through speakers to simulate adverse environmental conditions athletes might encounter in competitions.

“Our goal is zero-defect training,” said Jang Young-sool, the vice president of the Korea Archery Association.

Annastacia Palaszczuk, the premier of the Australian state of Queensland, during a news conference Wednesday in Tokyo.
Credit...Franck Robichon/EPA, via Shutterstock

The male Australian Olympic official who secured the 2032 games for his country rebuked a leading female politician and insisted that she attend the opening ceremony in Tokyo, prompting disbelief and outrage in Australia.

The awkward exchange occurred in front of television cameras on Wednesday night at a news conference after Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, was confirmed as the host of the 2032 Games.

John Coates, the president of the Australian Olympic Committee, told Annastacia Palaszczuk, the premier of Queensland, that she could not spend her time “hiding” in her room.

Palaszczuk, 51, had traveled to Japan to secure the bid and drawn criticism at home, because most Australians are unable to leave or return to the country because of coronavirus border restrictions. She had previously promised not to attend any Tokyo Olympics events.

Coates, 71, took issue with that, telling her at the news conference: “You are going to the opening ceremony. I am still the deputy chair of the candidature leadership group. So far as I understand, there will be an opening and a closing ceremony in 2032.”

He extended his insistence to other Queensland politicians who had come with Palaszczuk, and said: “All of you are going to get along there and understand the traditional parts of that, what’s involved in an opening ceremony, so none of you are staying behind and hiding in your rooms, all right?”

Palaszczuk declined to say why she would not attend the ceremony. Coates, a vice president of the International Olympic Committee, pressed her, saying, “You’ve never been to an opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, have you?”

After Palaszczuk shook her head, Coates continued to insist: “You don’t know the protocols.” Because Olympic opening ceremonies are a major responsibility for organizers and cost $75 million to $100 million to put on, Coates said, “it’s my very strong recommendation” that Palaszczuk and other officials attend.

In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Thursday morning, Palaszczuk downplayed the exchange, saying that Brisbane was “now a part of the I.O.C. family, and I’m just going to do what John Coates said.”

She added that Brisbane would not have been selected as 2032 host “if we didn’t have John Coates.” But when asked directly whether she would attend Friday’s opening ceremony, she said she did not want to offend the I.O.C. or the Japanese government, and said, “I’ll let them sort that out.”

Asked in an interview on Thursday morning whether he had “overruled” Palaszczuk, Coates chuckled and said: “Yes, I did do that.”

The exchange drew outrage in Australia, with online commentators labeling Coates’s behavior “appalling” and “arrogant” and asserting that he would not have made the same comments to a male premier.

Leigh Russell, a former chief executive of Swimming Australia, wrote on Twitter: “This is disgusting. And yet another example of how women are treated in sport.”

“What a condescending, patronizing man,” Jane Caro, a feminist commentator, tweeted. “How dare he tick off the Premier of Queensland publicly as if she was a naughty schoolgirl?”

The Australian Olympic Committee did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

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