Tokyo daily COVID-19 cases top 3,000 for first time

By Sports Desk July 28, 2021

Tokyo recorded over 3,000 daily coronavirus cases for the first time, less than a week after the Olympic Games began.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government recorded 3,177 cases of COVID-19, a record number in a single day just 24 hours on from the 2,848 on Tuesday, which represented the previous high.

Japan's capital remains under a state of emergency while the Games take place. Wednesday marked the fifth day of the competition.

Another 16 Olympics-related cases were announced by Tokyo 2020 organisers on Wednesday, taking the total to 169.

Tokyo 2020 spokesperson Masa Takaya told a news conference: "As a city resident myself and as an organiser, my heart hurts that case numbers are rising." 

Last Wednesday, when football and softball competitions began for the Olympics, the city recorded 1,359 cases.

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  • Michael Johnson launches groundbreaking Grand Slam Track League Michael Johnson launches groundbreaking Grand Slam Track League

    Michael Johnson, the Olympic champion and former world record holder in the 200m and 400m, has unveiled his latest venture: a lucrative new athletics league called Grand Slam Track (GST). Aimed at revolutionizing the track and field landscape, GST promises to bring together the world's elite runners with a significant financial incentive, offering USD$100,000 as the top prize.

    Set to kick off in April 2025, the league will feature a prize fund of USD$12.6 million spread over four events annually. Two of these events will be hosted in the United States. Each year, 48 athletes will be contracted to the league, competing in two events per meet across the four meetings, dubbed "Slams."

    "We're revolutionizing the track landscape," said Johnson. "They deserve to be compensated. The structure of the sport in the past has not compensated those athletes to take that risk to go and compete against the best athletes in the sport."

    The league has already attracted top-tier talent, with American Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, the Olympic and World Champion, and world record holder in the 400m hurdles, being the first athlete to join. "I firmly believe that this is the step forward that track needs to take it to another level," McLaughlin-Levrone stated.

    Grand Slam Track will feature a unique format where each meet hosts 96 athletes, split into two categories: GST Racers and GST Challengers. The 48 core GST Racers, divided equally among six event groups for both men and women, will compete in all four Slams each year. They will receive an annual base compensation and can earn additional prize money. The GST Racing Committee, which selects these athletes, focuses on global championship titles, top rankings, global following, and existing rivalries.

    The other 48 athletes at each Slam, known as GST Challengers, will be selected based on recent performances and intriguing matchups. They will be paid appearance fees per event and are also eligible for full prize money. Both Racers and Challengers will compete in two events over three days during each Slam.

    The event categories are designed to showcase the versatility and skills of the world's best athletes, including short sprints (100m and 200m), short hurdles (100m hurdles for women or 110m hurdles for men, and 100m), long sprints (200m and 400m), long hurdles (400m hurdles and 400m), short distance (800m and 1500m), and long-distance (3000m and 5000m). Athletes' placements in each event are critical as their scores across two events will determine their final ranking for that Slam. The scoring system awards ten points for first place, eight points for second, six points for third, five points for fourth, four points for fifth, three points for sixth, two points for seventh, and one point for eighth place. In the event of a tie, the quickest combined time across the two events will decide the Slam winner.

    Johnson's Grand Slam Track is poised to create a significant shift in the track and field world, providing athletes with better financial rewards and a platform to showcase their talents against the best in the world. With substantial backing and a well-thought-out structure, GST is set to become a premier destination for elite runners globally, promising thrilling competitions and redefining the sport's financial landscape.

     

     

     

     

  • Novak Djokovic to compete at Paris Olympics Novak Djokovic to compete at Paris Olympics

    Novak Djokovic is set to compete in the Olympic Games after being named in Serbia's squad for the tennis tournament.

    The 24-time grand slam champion will target a gold medal for the first time, with his appearance in Paris set to be his fifth at the Olympics.

    Djokovic won a 2008 bronze medal in Beijing after losing to eventual winner Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals before beating James Blake for third place.

    He came fourth at London 2012 after suffering defeats to Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Porto in the final stages and lost early at Rio 2016 before narrowly missing out on a medal in Tokyo three years ago, with Alexander Zverev and Pablo Carreno Busta getting the better of him to end a historic bid for a Golden Slam.

    Djokovic, 37, said in April that winning an elusive gold medal was a priority for him this year, but there was some uncertainty over his participation after he withdrew from the French Open before his quarter-final match this month through injury.

    The Serbian suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee and underwent surgery but now looks to be on track to return to Roland-Garros for the Games, with Dusan Lajovic also selected for Serbia.

    "Team Serbia for Paris 2024 got new representatives," the Serbian Olympic Committee announced. 

    "Tennis players Novak Djokovic and Dusan Lajovic fulfilled the requirements, according to the ATP ranking, and confirmed their performance at the Olympic Games."

    Djokovic's involvement in the men's tournament comes as a boost for the Paris Games after some high-profile female players like Aryna Sabalenka, Ons Jabeur and Emma Raducanu announced they would not be participating.

    The Olympic tennis tournaments are scheduled to run from July 27 until August 4.

    It is not yet known whether Djokovic will be able to participate at Wimbledon, which takes place before the Olympics.

    Wimbledon begins on July 1 and Djokovic is a seven-time champion at the event, just one title behind the men's singles record held by Roger Federer. 

    Djokovic lost an epic final to Carlos Alcaraz at last year's Wimbledon.

  • Stephen Francis criticizes JAAA for men’s 4x400m relay qualification failure; offers suggestion to possibly beat June 30 deadline Stephen Francis criticizes JAAA for men’s 4x400m relay qualification failure; offers suggestion to possibly beat June 30 deadline

    Renowned athletics coach Stephen Francis has publicly criticized the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) for what he described as gross incompetence, which has placed the country on the cusp of failing to qualify for the men’s 4x400m relay at this summer’s Paris Olympic Games.

    Francis, known for his no-nonsense approach, did not mince words as he laid bare his frustrations with the governing body’s handling of the situation, as the country’s recent bid to make it into the top 16 in the world, again ended in disappointment.

    The team of Reheem Hayles, JeVaughn Powell, Kimar Farquharson and Tarees Rhoden, gallantly clocked 2:59.75 against a Barbados team, and an international quartet at the NACAC New Life Invitational in Bahamas on Sunday, but failed to run faster than the 2:59.12 seconds set by Zambia in March.

    That was Jamaica’s third attempt at qualification, following two failures at the World Athletics Relays, also held in the Bahamas, in May. Fourteen teams qualified from the World Relays with the next best two teams, based on times run during the qualifying window, being added.

    France (2:58.46) and Zambia, currently occupy those slots, with Jamaica now in a race against time to surpass one of the two before the close of the qualification window on June 30.

    Should the Jamaicans fail to do so, it would be the first time in decades that the country would be absent from the men’s 4x400m at any major championship.

    Francis believes all this could have been avoided had JAAA’s president Garth Gayle appointed competent individuals with immense knowledge of how to manage the situation accordingly.

    “Garth Gayle is a trying man, but he consistently gets letdown by the appointments he makes. Jamaica historically has treated senior athletics as an adjunct to junior athletics, so the same people are there, school principals and their technical committees, making these decisions on issues they know absolutely nothing about,” Francis told SportsMax.TV in an exclusive interview.

    “They know nothing about senior athletics. They might have some kind of resume in (managing) juniors, being a high school principal or a coach at a high school, so (the country suffers) as a result of these personnel, because they keep making stupid decisions when it comes to seniors,” he added.

    To drive home his point, Francis, a highly decorated coach, explained that the country’s teams to the World Athletics Relays were chosen based on early season times.

    “That is rubbish…unheard of, and only people who know nothing about senior athletics would ever even suggest that. (Those with proper knowledge) know that in April, nobody starts to run because people are more peaking for the summer, so what they should have done for the World relays is to run the teams you expect to run down in June. You make them aware early enough that, ‘we're going to select so try and get in shape because we need to qualify, we need to get to the final,” Francis reasoned.