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Novak Djokovic Launches Olympic Quest on First Day of Medal Action

Novak Djokovic launches his quest for Olympic tennis glory on day one of many pandemic-delayed Tokyo Games on Saturday as Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar goes for certainly one of 11 gold medals on supply.

Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka lit the Olympic cauldron in Friday’s opening ceremony at an eerily empty stadium after the coronavirus pressured organisers to ban spectators in any respect however a handful of venues.

Games chiefs will likely be determined to shift the main focus to the sporting motion from the pandemic, which pressured a one-year postponement and has dominated the build-up to the beginning of the occasion.

“Today is a second of hope,” Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) stated on the low-key opening ceremony, which unfolded in entrance of fewer than 1,000 VIPs and several other thousand athletes.

“Yes, it is vitally totally different from what all of us had imagined. But allow us to cherish this second as a result of lastly we’re all right here collectively.”

But the virus solid a recent shadow when German Olympic chiefs introduced bicycle owner Simon Geschke had examined optimistic for coronavirus, forcing him out of the boys’s street race.

And Covid-19 claimed the opening sport of the Olympic seashore volleyball match, with Czech pair Marketa Nausch Slukova and Barbora Hermannova pressured to withdraw.

More than 20 sports activities from archery to weightlifting begin on Saturday.

Golden Grand Slam

Djokovic had solid doubt over whether or not he would take part due to the strict virus protocols and lack of crowds, however the potential of the Golden Slam — successful all 4 majors and the Olympics in the identical 12 months — proved inconceivable to withstand.

“Without the important thing ingredient of any sports activities occasions, the crowds, the followers, that vitality, it’s totally different, however it’s nonetheless the Olympic Games,” stated the world primary.

Djokovic will face Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien within the opening spherical of a match lacking half the boys’s high 10 gamers, together with  2008 Olympic champion Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

The favorite and 2008 bronze medallist is hoping to emulate Steffi Graf’s 1988 feat of successful the Golden Slam after already snapping up the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon this 12 months.

Women’s world primary Ashleigh Barty will make her Olympic debut for Australia alongside buddy and compatriot Storm Sanders within the doubles.

Osaka, who performs within the singles on Sunday, has not performed since her shock French Open pull-out over psychological well being issues in late May however the 23-year-old stated she was “excited to play” after taking outing.

Pogacar eyes gold

The first gold medal in Tokyo will come within the girls’s 10-metre air rifle, which began earlier than the street race cyclists set off from Musashinonomori Park.

The demanding 234-kilometre (145-mile) route climaxes on the Fuji International Speedway racing circuit, with riders going through 5 climbs round Mount Fuji, the best level in Japan at an altitude of three,776 metres (12,388 toes).

Slovenia’s Pogacar, who this month received his second successive Tour de France, headlines a star-studded peloton that features 2016 champion Greg Van Avermaet and his Belgian team-mates Remco Evenepoel and Wout van Aert.

Medals are additionally up for grabs in archery, fencing, judo, taekwondo and weightlifting.

Swimming begins with heats within the males’s 400m particular person medley, the place Japan’s Daiya Seto is the favorite, earlier than Sweden’s reigning champion Sarah Sjostrom, nonetheless recovering from a fractured proper elbow, traces up within the girls’s 100m butterfly.

Britain’s Olympic and world champion Adam Peaty is the one to observe within the males’s 100m breaststroke, whereas Hungarian nice Katinka Hosszu begins her fifth Games within the girls’s 400m medley.

The US girls’s soccer group will look to bounce again from a humbling 3-Zero loss to Sweden once they tackle New Zealand within the second spherical of group video games.

Three-on-three basketball, performed with a single hoop, makes its debut on the Olympics, which options 4 new sports activities — karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and browsing.

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