Tokyo 2020 chiefs ban overseas fans from Olympics this year

By Sports Desk March 20, 2021

Tokyo 2020 organisers have announced spectators will not be allowed to travel from overseas to watch the Olympic Games this year.

The measure has been taken as part of an effort to reduce the risks of COVID-19 spreading at the delayed Games.

The Games will run from July 23 to August 8, having been set back by a year due to the global health crisis.

Also affected will be the Paralympics, which runs from August 24 to September 5, with travelling spectators also barred from attending.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) have been advised of Tokyo's decision and are said by Games chiefs to "respect and accept this conclusion".

In a statement issued on Twitter, Tokyo 2020 said: "Today, on March 20, we reported to the IOC and IPC that we would not accept overseas spectators to Japan in order to realise a safe and secure event.

"We will continue to do our utmost to make this summer's event a safe and secure event so that it will be a light of hope for people all over the world."

In a further statement, Tokyo 2020 organisers said tickets purchased by those planning to travel from abroad would be refunded.

They said the coronavirus situation within and beyond Japan "remains very challenging" and pointed to travel across borders being "severely restricted", meaning entry to Japan could not be guaranteed.

"In order to give clarity to ticket holders living overseas and to enable them to adjust their travel plans at this stage, the parties on the Japanese side have come to the conclusion that they will not be able to enter into Japan at the time of the Olympic and Paralympic Games," said the Tokyo 2020 statement.

"This conclusion will further contribute to ensure safe and secure Games for all participants and the Japanese public."

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    Whatever data Mark Horton is supplying his PGA Tour clients these days, it seems to be paying off.

    The English statistician counts both Sam Burns and Billy Horschel among those coming to him for guidance in their golf games. And each registered Tour wins in consecutive weeks last month, as Burns captured the Charles Schwab Challenge before Horschel cruised to victory at the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday.

    "Hortsy (Horton) is unbelievable," Horschel said after his win. "He's been on my team since 2014. First year he comes on the team we win the FedExCup. He's very English and he's very blunt, and we had a conversation before he joined my team about my record on the PGA Tour and things I didn't do well.

    "My short game wasn't very good and I had stone hands. And this week I showed him finally that I have a short game that can live up to the golf course and save me at times."

    Horschel's game at the Memorial wasn't just good, it was unprecedented. His +13.58 Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green was the most at an event in his PGA Tour career and best since the 2018 Wyndham Championship (+10.74, tied for 11th). It broke his long-time career record of +13.07, set a decade ago at the 2012 Sanderson Farms Championship.

    He was the fourth Memorial winner since 2003 to rank first in both Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green as well as Greens in Regulation (53), joining Patrick Cantlay (2021), Jason Dufner (2017) and Tiger Woods (2012). He also finished the week ranked second in Proximity to the Hole, his third time on Tour ranking in the top-two and more than four feet closer than his previous average in eight previous starts at the Memorial.

    Credit to Horschel for his performance. And in the meantime, Horton will keep crunching the numbers.

    "He just tells me where I need to be on holes, where guys are making bogeys, where the birdies are coming from, the perfect way for me to plot my way around the golf course," Horschel explained. "That's what I love to do. I love to put my ball here, put the ball there. And he backs me up with that data that's he's been giving me for the last eight years."

    SCHAUFFELE FINALLY CONVERTS

    Xander Schauffele knew the record. The numbers don't lie.

    0-4 lifetime. Oh for four. Goose egg.

    That was Schauffele's career record on the PGA Tour when holding a 54-hole lead or co-lead. The now six-time Tour winner was still waiting to successfully convert a third-round position atop the leaderboard into a victory, and the Travelers Championship was one more opportunity to do it.

    "In the past when I had a 54-hole lead or close to the lead, my Sundays felt really fast," he said. "And I'd be sitting back in the hotel or at a house on Sunday [afterward] thinking, 'What happened today?'"

    This time, he said, Schauffele wanted to stay in the present and focus on the task at hand, which was each and every shot. They would all be critical to stave off Cantlay, who trailed him by only a stroke entering the final round, with more players not far behind.

    "I told [my caddie] to hold me accountable on the first hole walking up there," Schauffele said. "And he did a really great job, and both of us were pretty much dialled in from the first hole."

    That they were. Schauffele finished the week hitting 63 greens in regulation, leading the field and tying his most hit during an event on Tour in his career. He also hit 63 earlier this season at the WM Phoenix Open, where he tied for third, and hit 60 twice at both the 2020 Sentry Tournament of Championship (T2) and CIMB Classic (T3).

    That precision helped Schauffele finish with a Strokes Gained: Total of +16.39, the most at an event in his career. His previous best total was +15.31, set in 2020 at The CJ CUP.

    Schauffele trailed Sahith Theegala by one stroke as he approached the last, but the tournament leader closed with a double-bogey before Schauffele hit his approach to 3 feet, setting up the winning birdie. It marked his first individual PGA Tour title since the 2019 Sentry Tournament of Champions.

    "It's been a year where my stats have been very solid, just haven't really put in four good rounds of golf," Schauffele said afterward. "I think subconsciously or without myself even really knowing I was getting a little impatient. And this week I was just trying to be self-aware as possible to just stay as patient as possible. I had to just realise that I put the work in and if I can just sort of do what I've been doing and just focus a little bit more throughout the day that it will pay off in a big way, and fortunately it did."

    MCILROY DIALS IT IN

    When Rory McIlroy looked ahead to the final-round forecast at the RBC Canadian Open, a simple glance at the wind direction told him all he’d need to know about his chances for victory.

    "Seeing that southerly wind again, I knew I needed to go out and shoot 5-or-6-under par to have a chance to win," he said.

    Simple enough. McIlroy posted an eight-under 62 to edge Tony Finau by two strokes for his 21st PGA Tour victory.

    "You needed to keep your foot down, you needed to keep your foot on the pedal," McIlroy said of his mindset. "I got off to a faster start today than I have done the previous few days."

    McIlroy has feasted in final rounds this year, joining Finau as one of only two players on Tour with four final rounds of six-under or better this year. Prior to his eight-under 62 in Canada, he also posted a pair of six-under 66s at The Players Championship and The CJ CUP to go along with an epic eight-under 64 at The Masters.

    It marked his third final round of 62 or better en route to a PGA Tour win, something no other winner has done more than once since 1983. He also shot a final-round 61 to win the 2019 RBC Canadian Open, as well as a 62 at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    The Northern Irishman was buoyed by an incredible approach shot performance, as he averaged just over 3 feet to the hole from 100 to 125 yards out, 14 feet closer than the field average in the final round.

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    Rafael Nadal faced make-or-break tests on Thursday to determine whether he would have to abandon his Wimbledon campaign.

    The 22-time grand slam winner aggravated an abdominal injury during his five-set victory over Taylor Fritz in the quarter-finals, admitting he had been in pain on court.

    It did not prevent Nadal lasting the distance in a stirring battle lasting four hours and 21 minutes, taking the decider on a tie-break.

    But Nadal risks having to pull out of Friday's semi-final against Australian Nick Kyrgios if his body is judged to have taken too much of a battering.

    Family members appealed to Nadal to give up the ghost against Fritz, but the 36-year-old played on and pulled off a typically gutsy victory.

    He confirmed after the match: "Tomorrow I'm going to have some more tests. But [it is] difficult to know. It's obvious that I am a player who had a lot of things in my tennis career, so I am used to have things and I am used to hold pain and to play with problems.

    "Knowing that, when I feel something like I felt, that is because something is not going the proper way in abdominal. But let's see. I had these feelings for a couple of days."

    Nadal said it was undoubtedly "the worst day" for his abdomen since he first felt a strain, which had required strapping before he played Fritz.

    He said there had "been an important increase of pain and limitation", but Italian player Fabio Fognini appeared to question Nadal's injury status when he posted a message in an Instagram story, reacting to a report pointing out the Spaniard's problem.

    The message read: "For sure... Guys stop believe in what you read PLEASE."

    But Fognini later denied that meant he was questioning Nadal's injury, accusing journalists of twisting his words.

    He wrote: "It's time to stop writing and reporting everything that you want in the wrong way. With that I wish Rafa and his entire team a lot of good luck in this Wimbledon final."

    Former Spain goalkeeper Santiago Canizares, who now works in the sports media, also weighed in, writing on Twitter: "If there is anyone to believe in this society, it is @RafaelNadal. For many reasons that I am too lazy to cite.

    "There are those who doubt his injury yesterday, but one fact does not bear debate: his serve was 30 per cent less than his usual speed ... Usual almost 200 km/h. Yesterday 150/160 km/h"

    That did not quite stack up across the entire match, but Nadal's average serve speeds (107mph for first serve, 95mph for second serve) were his slowest of the tournament so far.

    Nadal has already won the Australian Open and French Open titles this year, defying a long-time foot problem. Should he play on and win Wimbledon, he would go to the US Open in August with a chance of achieving the first men's singles calendar Grand Slam clean sweep since Rod Laver achieved the feat in 1969.

    The winner of the semi-final between Nadal and Kyrgios, should it go ahead as planned, will face the winner of Novak Djokovic's match against Cameron Norrie in the title match.

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    Rafael Nadal says he does not know if he will be able to play in his semi-final against Nick Kyrgios after aggravating an abdominal injury during his five-set victory over Taylor Fritz.

    Nadal, 36, has been vocal about his struggles physically during the tournament, but had been determined to push through the pain in an effort to keep his chances at the calendar slam alive, having already won this year's Australian Open and French Open.

    During his quarter-final win against Fritz, family members were imploring Nadal to retire from the match as his clear discomfort appeared to be getting the better of him at times.

    He admitted in his post-match media appearance that his condition worsened during the match, saying he will prioritise his health if he has to make a tough decision.

    "I don't know [if I will be able to play] – I am going to have some more tests, but it is difficult to know," he said.

    "I had these feelings for a couple of days, but without a doubt, today was the worst day. There has been an important increase of pain and limitation.

    "I am worried. I don't have a decision. I need to know different opinions and I need to check everything the proper way.

    "There is something more important than winning Wimbledon, and that is health."

    The winner between Nadal and Kyrgios will face the winner of Novak Djokovic's semi-final against Cameron Norrie in the decider.

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