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Tokyo goes to the polls as pandemic-shadowed Olympics loom

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(Last Updated On: July 4, 2021)

Tokyo residents went to the polls on Sunday to pick members of its metropolitan assembly just 19 days before the Olympic Games begin, as surveys showed Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was likely to win the vote, Reuters reported.

The capital’s election, in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, will have little impact on the long-planned Games, but is important as a bellwether for a lower house election that needs to be held by October.

Suga’s term as party president will expire at the end of September, and a strong showing by his party in the Tokyo poll could help him clinch another term, analysts say. The head of the LDP is virtually assured of being prime minister, given the party’s large majority in parliament, Reuters reported.

“I voted for a candidate who is not LDP, partially because I am against holding the Olympics, though it would be too late to change now,” said a 60-year-old female office worker, who asked not to be identified.

“But my main interest was to pick the candidate who has more pragmatic policy, including environmental actions, rather than the coronavirus or the Olympics,” she said.

Polls close at 8 p.m. (1100 GMT)

A recent survey by the Yomiuri Shimbun daily showed 23% of respondents saying they would vote for LDP candidates, versus 17% for the Tokyo Citizens First party and 8% for the Japanese Communist Party.

The Tokyo Citizens First party wants the Olympics held without spectators and the Japanese Communist Party wants them cancelled. Suga has said he intended to hold the Games but would not hesitate to bar spectators if deemed necessary.

Tokyo Citizens First is now the largest party in the metropolitan assembly with 46 of its 127 seats, followed by the LDP with 25. The regional party formed by Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike won a landslide victory in the last election in 2017.

The Tokyo Olympics, postponed for a year over the virus outbreaks, begins on July 23.

The election also comes during a resurgence of the pandemic in Japan, with Tokyo reporting 716 new COVID-19 infections on Saturday, its highest in more than five weeks.

“My focus on this election was the pandemic measures,” a 26-year-old freelance actor, who is deaf, wrote in a note to a reporter outside the polling station. He also asked not to be named.

“I picked the candidate who would take actions to save infected people, as I am afraid of losing my job and my income if I get infected,” he said, declining the name the party. “I don’t care about political parties.”

Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

Afghanistan’s Yavari falls out in first round of shooting event

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(Last Updated On: July 25, 2021)

The Afghanistan National Olympic Committee said Sunday Mahdi Yavari, scored 601.4 points in the first round of the 10 meter rifle shooting event at the Olympics but failed to make it through to the next round.

Shooters from China, United States, Slovakia, Turkey, Russia, Hungary and China advanced to the final eight.

A new Olympic record was however set by the Chinese contestant who scored 632.7 points. The previous record was set by Italy with 630.2 points in 2016.

This was the first time however that Afghanistan has taken part in the shooting event.

The Tokyo Olympics opened on Friday afternoon with a ceremony reflecting a Games like no other, walking a fine line between celebrating the feats of the world’s best athletes while acknowledging the global hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Games run until August 8.

About 11,000 athletes from 204 national Olympic committees are expected, including a team of refugee athletes. Afghanistan is represented by five athletes and another three Afghans are part of the refugee team.

Meanwhile, Dr Ehsanullah Bayat, Chairman of Afghan Wireless Communication Company, Ariana Television Network, Ariana News and Bayat Power, attended the opening ceremony in Tokyo as a special guest.

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Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

Slimmed-down opening ceremony reflects pandemic-hit Tokyo Games

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(Last Updated On: July 23, 2021)

The Tokyo Olympics opened on Friday afternoon with a ceremony reflecting a Games like no other, walking a fine line between celebrating the feats of the world’s best athletes while acknowledging the global hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reported.

Postponed for a year, organisers were forced to take the unprecedented step of holding the Games without fans as the pandemic continues to take lives around the world.

Even the opening ceremony, normally a star-studded display teeming with celebrities, was attended by fewer than 1,000 people.

Regardless, it marks a coming together of the world, with an audience of hundreds of millions around the globe and at various stages of the pandemic expected to tune into together to watch the start of the greatest show in sport.

When Tokyo was picked as Games host in 2013, crowds screamed themselves hoarse with joy but in 2020 the coronavirus struck, with lockdowns forcing the unprecedented postponement only four months before the Games were supposed to open, while scandals and problems plagued preparations.

The opening took place without the usual mass choreography, huge props and the cornucopia of dancers, actors and lights associated with past celebrations.

A vastly smaller number of athletes also marched in the teams’ parade, with many planning to fly in just before their competitions and leave shortly after to avoid infections.

Only 15 global leaders are in attendance, along with Japanese Emperor Naruhito, who will formally open the Games as his grandfather Hirohito did in 1964, and U.S. First Lady Jill Biden.

The Games run until August 8.

About 11,000 athletes from 204 national Olympic committees are expected, including a team of refugee athletes. Afghanistan is represented by five athletes and another three Afghans are part of the refugee team.

Meanwhile, Dr Ehsanullah Bayat, Chairman of Afghan Wireless Communication Company, Ariana Television Network, Ariana News and Bayat Power, attended the opening ceremony in Tokyo as a special guest.

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Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

All athletes in refugee team to join opening ceremony

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(Last Updated On: July 23, 2021)

All 29 athletes in the Olympic refugee team will march behind the Olympic flag at the Tokyo Games opening ceremony on Friday, an organiser said, to represent the more than 82 million displaced people across the globe.

The International Olympic Committee unveiled its first refugee team at the Rio 2016 Olympics to raise awareness of the issue as hundreds of thousands of people poured into Europe from the Middle East and elsewhere escaping conflict and poverty.

“The Olympic refugee team is representing 82.5 million forcibly displaced people and refugees around the world,” James Macleod, the IOC’s director of Olympic solidarity, told a virtual news conference.

“There is a feeling of hope that they can shine a spotlight on this issue.”

For the Tokyo Games, the team comprised of people from countries including Syria, South Sudan, Eritrea, Afghanistan and Iran is almost three times as big as the inaugural team at the Rio.

All of the athletes arrived in Tokyo by late Thursday after a delay in some of their trips following a positive COVID-19 test of a team official at a training camp in Qatar.

The athletes will march into the stadium during the opening ceremony in second place behind ancient Games founders Greece and will compete in 12 sports.

“Everyone is excited, but they are, like any other elite-level athletes, trying to concentrate on the Games,” Macleod said.

Six of them competed at Rio, but for the rest, it will be their first Games.

“What we don’t do with the refugee Olympic team is to project medals and results,” Macleod said.”We want the athletes not to have that pressure, we want them to be able to enjoy the participation here.”

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