Djokovic Launches Olympic Quest On First Day Of Medal Action In Tokyo
Muhammad Rameez 2 months ago Sat 24th July 2021 | 09:00 AM
Tokyo, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 24th Jul, 2021 ) :Novak Djokovic launches his quest for Olympic tennis glory on day one of the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Games on Saturday as Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar goes for one of 11 gold medals on offer.
Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka lit the Olympic cauldron in Friday's opening ceremony at an eerily empty stadium after the coronavirus forced organisers to ban spectators at all but a handful of venues.
"Today is a moment of hope," Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said at the low-key opening ceremony, which unfolded in front of fewer than 1,000 VIPs and several thousand athletes.
"Yes, it is very different from what all of us had imagined. But let us cherish this moment because finally we are all here together." But the virus cast a fresh shadow when German Olympic chiefs announced cyclist Simon Geschke had tested positive for coronavirus, forcing him out of the men's road race.
And Covid-19 claimed the opening game of the Olympic beach volleyball tournament, with Czech pair Marketa Nausch Slukova and Barbora Hermannova forced to withdraw.
- Golden Grand Slam - Djokovic had cast doubt over whether he would participate because of the strict virus protocols and lack of crowds, but the possibility of the Golden Slam -- winning all four majors and the Olympics in the same year -- proved impossible to resist.
Osaka, who plays in the singles on Sunday, has not played since her shock French Open pull-out over mental health concerns in late May but the 23-year-old said she was "excited to play" after taking time out.
The demanding 234-kilometre (145-mile) route climaxes at the Fuji International Speedway racing circuit, with riders facing five climbs around Mount Fuji, the highest point in Japan at an altitude of 3,776 metres (12,388 feet).
Slovenia's Pogacar, who this month won his second successive Tour de France, headlines a star-studded peloton that includes 2016 champion Greg Van Avermaet and his Belgian team-mates Remco Evenepoel and Wout van Aert.
Medals are also up for grabs in archery, fencing, judo, taekwondo and weightlifting.
Swimming begins with heats in the men's 400m individual medley, where Japan's Daiya Seto is the favourite, before Sweden's reigning champion Sarah Sjostrom, still recovering from a fractured right elbow, lines up in the women's 100m butterfly.