Tokyo yesterday opened its first new permanent venue for the 2020 Olympics in a welcome public relations boost for the organizers after a series of setbacks.
The opening of the Musashino Forest Sport Plaza, which is to host badminton and modern pentathlon fencing, offers Tokyo organizers some respite after a disastrous rollout of plans for the 2020 Olympic stadium.
“We are making real progress in our preparations,” Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike told reporters at the venue’s opening ceremony. “We ... intend to build on this momentum and continue the hard work.”
The venue, which is to also host wheelchair basketball at the 2020 Paralympics, is the first of eight permanent venues to be completed.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe two years ago tore up the blueprints for the new national stadium amid public anger over its US$2 billion price tag in an embarrassing setback.
That decision deprived next year’s Rugby World Cup of its main venue.
Designs for the official Games mascot then had to be scrapped following accusations of plagiarism.
There was more bad news last month when Olympic organizers said that prolonged summer rain had brought high levels of bacteria to a venue earmarked for triathlon and open-water swimming.
While Tokyo has taken successful measures to slash costs, the International Olympic Committee has urged organizers to try to further reduce its US$12 billion budget, including finding ways to cut services at the athletes’ village.
Tokyo is to have 39 venues for the Olympics and Paralympics, including 23 existing sites and eight temporary facilities, in addition to the eight new permanent ones.
SWEEP THE LEG: Poirier, determined to best McGregor, after losing to him in 2014, used low calf kicks to throw ‘Notorious’ off his stand-up game, before dropping him American underdog Dustin Poirier yesterday shook up the world of mixed martial arts, beating up the legs of Irish superstar Conor McGregor before knocking him out at UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi. “I’m happy, but I’m not surprised. I put in the work,” Poirier said, after the referee stepped in after 2 minutes, 32 seconds of the second round to save McGregor from further damage, after he was dropped by a fierce combination of punches. The 32-year-old Poirier was ranked second in the flyweight division going into the fight, but still rated a heavy underdog by bookmakers to beat his fourth-ranked opponent,
World No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying yesterday eased past her Thai opponent to advance to the second round of the Toyota Thailand Open. The Taiwanese star toppled world No. 46 Supanida Katethong 21-16, 21-11 in 29 minutes at the Impact Arena in Bangkok. “I think I played OK today. I am feeling a little better than last week,” Tai said. Tomorrow, Tai faces Indonesia’s Gregoria Mariska Tunjung. The two have faced each other six times, with Tai beating the world No. 21 in all six matches. Tai on Sunday reached the final of the Yonex Thailand Open before losing decisively against Carolina Marin of Spain.
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Three new COVID-19 cases yesterday hit the Australian Open’s troubled buildup as a backlash grew against international tennis players flown in during a raging pandemic. Two of the new cases were players, state health officials said, taking the total infections to seven since more than 1,000 people arrived in largely COVID-19-free Australia on charter flights last week. The Victoria Department of Health and Human Services said that the two players and a third person associated with the tournament — a woman in her 20s, and two men in their 30s — had returned positive results. The year’s first Grand Slam, delayed three weeks,