UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has reiterated his opposition to FIFA's biennial World Cup plans as he believes the proposal will fail as "it's simply a bad idea".

FIFA, led by chief of global football development Arsene Wenger, has been promoting the idea for the World Cup to shift format and take place every two years.

FIFA reported to its member associations at their global summit on 20 December that the changes would make football $4.4billion richer over the first four-year cycle.

That figure would then climb to $6.6billion, according to FIFA president Gianni Infantino, if each confederation also switches its regional competition to become biennial, while FIFA claimed its members were largely in support of the plans.

But UEFA, along with South America's CONMEBOL, continue in their staunch opposition to the proposed alterations to world football's showpiece event.

"Europe and South America are against [the plan] and those are the only [continents with] World Cup winners in history," Ceferin told reporters at the Expo 2020 Dubai Fair on Thursday.

"The problem is that the World Cup has to be every four years to be interesting.

"Second, if it would be every two years, it would cannibalise women's football because it would be at the same year as the women's football [World Cup', other sports, the Olympic Games - many mistakes.

"It's simply a bad idea and it will not happen because it is a bad idea, not because we are opposing it."

Ceferin's comments come after the two governing bodies clashed ahead of FIFA holding its global summit with national associations earlier in December.

FIFA published results from a study that claimed the majority of football fans would like to see more frequent World Cups. UEFA, however, said an independent survey called proposals "alarming" just hours before.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is also part of a  growing list of opposition, which includes Kylian Mbappe and Robert Lewandowski after the pair raised concerns earlier in the week, all of whom fear the impact of the changes on the world's sporting calendar.

"Why are the Olympic Games every four years? Because it's an event that you have to look forward [to], that you have to wait [for], and you have to enjoy it," Ceferin added.

The International Olympic Committee says it has spoken to Peng Shuai for a second time and will hold a "personal meeting" in January with the Chinese tennis star amid continuing concerns for her safety.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the Olympic body repeated a previous message that it was taking a "quiet diplomacy" route and speaking to Chinese sport bodies about what it described as "the difficult situation she is in".

Peng made allegations in November of sexual assault against Zhang Gaoli, the ex-vice premier and member of the Chinese Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee. The two-time doubles grand slam winner posted the allegations on social media site Weibo, though her post has since been removed and her whereabouts since have been unclear.

The WTA, which runs the main women's tennis tour, suspended its upcoming tournaments in China on Wednesday owing to its ongoing worries about Peng's wellbeing.

An email allegedly sent by Peng was received recently by WTA chairman Steve Simon, with the message saying the sexual assault allegations were false and that the tennis star was safely at home. Simon said that email only heightened his worries over Peng's safety.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach was pictured in conversation by video link with Peng last month, and now the IOC says there was further contact on Wednesday with the 35-year-old former French Open and Wimbledon doubles winner.

The IOC said: "We share the same concern as many other people and organisations about the well-being and safety of Peng Shuai. This is why, just yesterday, an IOC team held another video call with her. We have offered her wide-ranging support, will stay in regular touch with her, and have already agreed on a personal meeting in January.

"There are different ways to achieve her well-being and safety. We have taken a very human and person-centred approach to her situation. Since she is a three-time Olympian, the IOC is addressing these concerns directly with Chinese sports organisations.

"We are using 'quiet diplomacy' which, given the circumstances and based on the experience of governments and other organisations, is indicated to be the most promising way to proceed effectively in such humanitarian matters.

"The IOC's efforts led to a half-hour videoconference with Peng Shuai on 21 November, during which she explained her situation and appeared to be safe and well, given the difficult situation she is in. This was reconfirmed in yesterday's call. Our human and person-centred approach means that we continue to be concerned about her personal situation and will continue to support her."

Beijing, China's capital, is due to host the Winter Olympics in February. There could be a heightened focus on Peng should the situation not be satisfactorily resolved by then.

There has been no suggestion of the Games being in any doubt due to the global concern over Peng, but the women's tennis tour will not be visiting China for the foreseeable future, barring a change in circumstances.

WTA chairman Simon said on Wednesday: "In good conscience, I don't see how I can ask our athletes to compete there when Peng Shuai is not allowed to communicate freely and has seemingly been pressured to contradict her allegation of sexual assault."

China has called for people to stop "deliberately and maliciously hyping up" the Peng Shuai saga.

Two-time grand slam doubles champion was reported to have been missing since making sexual assault allegations against Zhang Gaol, the ex-vice premier and member of the Chinese Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee, more than three weeks ago.

The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) welcomed pictures that showed Peng on a video call with International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach, but say the images do not alleviate its concerns about her wellbeing.

According to the IOC, Peng said she is "safe and well" in the call on Sunday and the 35-year-old spoke to president Bach for half an hour.

Despite footage released by Chinese state-run media on Saturday purporting to show Peng in a restaurant with friends, followed by images of her at a youth tournament on Sunday, concerns have continued to be raised regarding her safety.

Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic are among many fellow players to have issued a plea for answers over Peng's whereabouts.

Human rights group Amnesty International stated the IOC is "entering dangerous waters" by taking part in a call with Peng and "should be extremely careful not to participate in any whitewash of possible human rights violations."

There was a firm message from China's foreign ministry on Tuesday, declared the issue is "not a diplomatic matter".

"I believe you have all seen that she recently attended some public events and had a video call [with IOC president Bach]," spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters.

"I think some people should stop deliberately and maliciously hyping [the issue] up, let alone politicise this issue."

 

 

The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) has welcomed pictures that show Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai on a video call with International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach, but say they do not alleviate its concerns about her well-being.

The 35-year-old had been widely considered to have been missing since making sexual assault allegations against Zhang Gaol, the ex-vice premier and member of the Chinese Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee, more than three weeks ago.

According to the IOC, Peng said she is "safe and well" in the call with president Bach on Sunday.

The IOC said in a statement that Peng had spoken to president Bach for 30 minutes.

"She explained that she is safe and well, living at her home in Beijing, but would like to have her privacy respected at this time," the statement added.

"That is why she prefers to spend her time with friends and family right now. Nevertheless, she will continue to be involved in tennis, the sport she loves so much."

In response, a WTA spokesperson said: "It was good to see Peng Shuai in recent videos, but they don't alleviate or address the WTA's concern about her well-being and ability to communicate without censorship or coercion.

"This video does not change our call for a full, fair and transparent investigation, without censorship, into her allegation of sexual assault, which is the issue that gave rise to our initial concern."

Despite footage released by Chinese state-run media on Saturday purporting to show Peng in a restaurant with friends, followed by images of her at a youth tournament on Sunday, concerns have continued to be raised regarding her safety.

Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic are among those to have called for answers on Peng's whereabouts.

Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai said she is "safe and well" in a video call with International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach on Sunday, the governing body said.

Peng had been widely considered to have been missing since making sexual assault allegations against Zhang Gaoli, the ex-vice premier and member of the Chinese Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee, more than three weeks ago.

Despite footage released by Chinese state-run media on Saturday purporting to show Peng in a restaurant with friends, followed by images of the 35-year-old at a youth tournament on Sunday, concerns have been raised regarding her safety.

However, with the likes of Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic calling for answers on Peng's whereabouts, the former world number 14 has now spoken publicly for the first time since November 2.

In a statement released on Sunday, the IOC said Peng had spoken to president Bach for 30 minutes.

The announcement added: "She explained that she is safe and well, living at her home in Beijing, but would like to have her privacy respected at this time.

"That is why she prefers to spend her time with friends and family right now. Nevertheless, she will continue to be involved in tennis, the sport she loves so much."

The statement included an image of the video call between Bach and Peng, who was smiling to the camera.

IOC member Li Lingwei and IOC Athletes Commission chair Emma Terho were also on the call, with the latter adding: "I was relieved to see that Peng Shuai was doing fine, which was our main concern. 

"She appeared to be relaxed. I offered her our support and to stay in touch at any time of her convenience, which she obviously appreciated."

Prior to Sunday's latest development, the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) called for more information about Peng.

"I am glad to see the videos released by China state-run media that appear to show Peng Shuai at a restaurant in Beijing," said WTA chairman and chief executive officer Steve Simon in response to the restaurant footage.

"While it is positive to see her, it remains unclear if she is free and able to make decisions and take actions on her own, without coercion or external interference. 

"This video alone is insufficient. As I have stated from the beginning, I remain concerned about Peng Shuai's health and safety and that the allegation of sexual assault is being censored and swept under the rug. 

"I have been clear about what needs to happen and our relationship with China is at a crossroads."

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) wants discussions to be held over FIFA's plan to stage the men's World Cup every two years instead of four. 

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has been travelling across the globe in a bid to drum up support for making the World Cup a biennial competition. 

The proposal, which is set to be voted on in December, has been met with criticism from federations at a continental and national level, as well as players' and supporters' unions. 

The IOC suggested it is simply a money-spinning exercise for FIFA and said it shared concerns raised about the impact on other sports, gender equality and player welfare. 

An IOC statement read: "A number of international federations (IFs) of other sports, national football federations, clubs, players, players associations and coaches have expressed strong reservations and concerns regarding the plans to generate more revenue for FIFA, mainly for the following reasons: 

"The increased frequency and timing for the World Cup would create a clash with other major international sports. This includes tennis, cycling, golf, gymnastics, swimming, athletics, Formula 1 and many others. This would undermine the diversity and development of sports other than football. 

"The increase in men's events in the calendar would create challenges for the further promotion of women's football. 

"The plans ... would create a further massive strain on the physical and mental health of the players." 

The release continued: "The IOC shares these concerns and supports the calls of stakeholders of football, international sports federations and major event organisers for a wider consultation, including with athletes' representatives, which has obviously not taken place." 

The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) is to investigate allegations that two Belarus coaches tried to force sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya to board a flight home from the Tokyo Olympics.

Tsimanouskaya claimed Artur Shimak and Yury Maisevich took her to the airport against her will after she criticised the coaches on social media.

The 24-year-old finished fourth in her 100 metres heat, before being pulled out of the Games by Belarusian officials.

Due to also compete in the 200m, she claimed a Belarusian coach entered her for the 4x400m relay despite her never having raced in the event before.

Tsimanouskaya said she did not feel safe returning to her homeland amid a crackdown on anti-government dissent following mass protests that erupted last year over a disputed election.

She flew to Warsaw rather than Belarus after being granted a humanitarian visa by Poland. 

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) revoked Shimak and Maisevichas' accreditation in August after launching an investigation into the saga.

The IOC and World Athletics on Thursday revealed that the AIU will look into the matter.

World Athletics and the IOC stated: "Further to the incident involving Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and the decision taken by the IOC to cancel and remove the accreditations of the two coaches, Messrs A. Shimak and Y. Maisevich, as a provisional measure during the Games, the IOC and World Athletics have jointly agreed to continue the investigation and to open a formal procedure vis-à-vis the two aforementioned coaches. 

"To this effect, and given that the Olympic Games have now concluded, it has been decided that the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) – the independent body created by World Athletics to manage all integrity issues (both doping-related and non-doping-related) for the sport of athletics – will conduct the procedure, with the full collaboration and support of the IOC. 

"The AIU will publish the outcome of its investigation when this has been finalised."

 

Former hurdles star Edwin Moses questioned the Games going ahead in Tokyo but insisted time will tell as to whether the decision was correct.

Prior to the delayed Games, there was scepticism towards the safety of holding such an event amid a global pandemic, but Tokyo 2020 was completed without major incident.

Moses, a two-time Olympic gold medallist, agreed with the concern throughout Japan – and across the world – as he discussed the unusual competitive conditions.

"I was always very concerned," the former United States athlete told Stats Perform.

"I always wondered whether it was the right decision to expose the Japanese people to tens and thousands of people coming in. I guess we’ll see what the fallout is.

"I would have been compelled to go if I was 25 years old. [The] conditions are not normal for athletes. I can't imagine competing under them."

Paris awaits in 2024 before Los Angeles and Brisbane follow as the next hosts.

But Moses, who set the world record four times in 400 metre hurdles, was unsure as to whether the Olympic model has been too restrictive for a competition that prides itself on inclusivity.

"[It] was talked about trying to move the Olympics to different countries," the 65-year-old continued. "I think the set up and model now means that it will never be somewhere like Africa. They can't afford it.

"I think they're behind the eight ball in terms of moving it around. Right now they've restricted themselves to American, [Asian] and European countries. [The] model is not sustainable to diversify delivery."

Asked whether they can alter this issue and make the model more inclusive, Moses responded: "I don't know. I'm not sure if it was in somewhere like South Africa for example.

"People would want that amount of money spent on it. They've been trying but [I am] not sure theyve found a reasonable solution."

One leading light for the delayed games, however, is the conversations that have opened on mental health.

Simone Biles, who would later take to social media to further inform her audience as to her mental health struggles, made the headlines when she courageously withdrew from artistic gymnastic events before emphatically returning to secure bronze on the beam.

IOC president Thomas Bach praised the athletes for offering "hope" as one of the "most precious gifts" during Sunday's closing ceremony and Moses offered insight into the mental health aspects of being an athlete.

"It's intense," Moses added. "People have no idea what it takes. And in today's world with the commercialism, Simone Biles was expected to win five medals.

"I think it was a combo of physical and mental. Her internal GPS system disconnected from her motor system and she could have been in danger."

Moses, who credited athletes for removing the stigma of mental health by opening up on the topic, concluded: "At a certain level competition is competition and if you are not ready for it it's okay.

"The problem is big athletes are pulling out of events now. Athletes will have had deaths in the family, people ill, all kinds of situations."

IOC president Thomas Bach hailed the athletes of Tokyo 2020 for offering the world "the most precious of gifts" in the form of "hope" before bringing the Games to a close on Sunday.

There was plenty of scepticism throughout Japan, and indeed across the globe, about the practicality of hosting an Olympics in the midst of a pandemic.

Bach and the Olympics organisers remained steadfast in their belief the Games – delayed by a year due to the proliferation of COVID-19 – should go ahead, though, and Tokyo 2020 has played out without major incident over the past two weeks.

Speaking at Sunday's closing ceremony, Bach reiterated the message of solidarity he heeded when opening the 32nd Olympiad a little over two weeks ago.

"Dear athletes, over the last 16 days you have amazed us with your sporting achievements, with your excellence, with your joy and with your tears. You created the magic of these Olympic games Tokyo 2020," he said.

"You were faster, you went higher, you were stronger, because we all stood together in solidarity. 

"You were competing fiercely with each other for Olympic glory and at the same time you were living peacefully together under one roof at the Olympic village. This is a powerful message of solidarity and peace. 

"You inspired us with this unifying power of sport, this is even more remarkable given the many challenges you had to face because of the pandemic. In these difficult times you gave to the world the most precious of gifts. Hope. 

"For the first time since the pandemic began the entire world came together, sport returned to centre stage, billions of people around the globe were united by emotion, sharing moments of joy and inspiration. This gives us hope, this gives us faith in the future, the Olympic games Tokyo 2020 are the Olympic games of hope, solidarity and peace. 

"You the best athletes of the world could only make your Olympic dream come true because Japan prepared the stage for you to shine. You the Japanese people can be extremely proud of what you have achieved. On behalf of all the athletes we say thank you Tokyo, thank you Japan.

"And now I have to mark the end of this most challenging Olympic journey. I declare the Games of the 32nd Olympiad closed."

Seiko Hashimoto, president of the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, added: "The athletic events of the past 17 days have inspired us, given us courage, and shown us hopes for the future.

"I would like to express my feelings of gratitude and respect to all the athletes, and to everyone else who overcame so many difficulties to so thoroughly prepare for these Games and deliver their absolute best performances."

Rory McIlroy has praised fellow Olympians Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka for sparking fresh discussion around mental health in sport.

American Biles, a four-time Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast, pulled out of the individual all-around final and the women's team final this week to focus on her mental wellbeing.

Japan's Osaka withdrew from this year's French Open tennis and opted not to play at Wimbledon after speaking of battles with depression and anxiety, although she has taken part in the Olympics.

Four-time golf major winner McIlroy, who is representing Ireland in his first Olympics, has previously opened up about his own struggles.

And the 32-year-old said he was fully behind Biles, Osaka and other athletes for ensuring discussions around the subject are "not taboo anymore".

"I live in the United States and anything that came on the TV about the Olympics it was Simone Biles. I mean it was the Simone Biles Olympics, right?" McIlroy said.

"To have the weight of 300-whatever million [people in the USA] on her shoulders is massive.

"Just as I thought Naomi Osaka was right to do what she did at the French Open and take that time off and get herself in the right place, I 100 per cent agree with what Simone is doing as well.

"You have to put yourself in the best position physically and mentally to be at your best and if you don't feel like you are at that, or you are in that position then you are going to have to make those decisions.

"I'm certainly very impressed, especially with those two women to do what they did and put themselves first.

"I'm glad that at least the conversation has started. There's been a few athletes that have really spoken: Michael Phelps, Kevin Love, Naomi Osaka, Simone Biles. The conversation, it's not taboo anymore."

McIlroy believes an athlete suffering from mental health issues should not be viewed any differently from one suffering from a physical injury.

"People can talk about it. Just as someone has a knee injury, or an elbow injury, if you don't feel right 100 per cent mentally that's an injury too," he said.

"I think in sports there's still this notion of powering through it, digging in and you're not a competitor unless you get through these things. I think that's probably part of it.

"But then when you hear the most decorated Olympian ever talk about his struggles and then probably the greatest gymnast ever talk about her struggles, you know then it encourages more people who have felt that way to come out and share how they're feeling."

McIlroy has been a little out of sorts heading into the Olympics, a tie for 59th at the Irish Open preceded a missed cut at the Scottish Open while he shared 46th at the Open Championship.

However, the world number 13 now has more coping mechanisms to handle the mental strain of competing at the highest level and fluctuations in form and performance.

He saud: "I certainly have a few more tools in my mental toolbox to maybe deal with things than I had a few years ago. Again, it's just trying to put yourself in an environment in which you can thrive. That's the bottom line.

"Someone like Naomi Osaka was trying to put herself in that environment in the French Open and I think the whole sports world was behind that decision. It obviously didn't play out the way she wanted it to, but it certainly started a great conversation."

Defending double Olympic champion Andy Murray revealed how his daughter provided him with inspiration after his early exit at Wimbledon.

A heavy third-round defeat by Denis Shapovalov had left the Scot questioning whether his hard work in training was worth it after years of injury woe as he tried to regain his spot at tennis' top table.

The two-time Wimbledon winner, who has four young children, now feels prepared and revitalised to compete in his fourth Games off the back of his young daughter's accidental wisdom.

Murray told reporters: "When I got home, the day after my match, my daughter said to me: 'Daddy, you're home because you lost another tennis match?'

"I said: 'Yeah, I did. But what do you do when you lose at something?' And she said: 'You try and try again?' I was like: 'Yeah, that's what I want to do.'

"I want to keep playing because I enjoy it and I still think I can play at a good level. 

"There have been difficult moments obviously in the last few months and the last year with the injuries and stuff, but right now this is the healthiest I've been for the longest period in the last year."

Murray will be part of a six-man squad in Japan, including doubles partner and two-time grand slam doubles winner Joe Salisbury, as he looks to defend his Rio 2016 and London 2012 golds.

As the only player to win back-to-back singles titles in Olympic history, Murray still intends to compete at the top-level of tennis for as long as he is able to do so.

"It can be hard and after tough losses like that at Wimbledon - you question a lot of things," the Team GB athlete added to BBC Sport.

"I do still feel like I am capable of playing high-level tennis and when that isn't the case I will stop playing. But right now I don't believe that is the case."

Yet the Games in Japan provides a completely different challenge in 2021 as all athletes remain acutely aware of the coronavirus concerns that surround sport all over the world.

The 34-year-old's Team GB team-mate Johanna Konta is one of many players to miss out due to circumstances linked to the virus.

Murray, who was drawn against ninth seed and Wimbledon quarter-finalist Felix Auger-Aliassime on Thursday, is familiar with the devastating impact a positive result can have after having to miss a major due to COVID-19.

"It happened to me before the Australian Open and I was gutted," he said.

"Thankfully I was able to compete in another grand slam a few months later, but if you've been preparing for something for five years and something like that to happens to you, it would be brutal.

"So there is an anxiousness, but from what I've seen everyone is taking the protocols seriously, so hopefully there won't be too many issues."

Murray will be hoping for few issues on the court too, though he and Salisbury have been drawn in a difficult tie against second-seeded pair Pierre Hugues-Herbert and Nicolas Mahut.

Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony director Kentaro Kobayashi has been sacked after footage of him making light of the Holocaust emerged.

On the eve of the Games being formally opened in Japan's capital, the man behind the ceremony admitted he had made comments in 1998 that were "trying to get people's attention shallowly because I couldn't make people laugh as I expected".

Kobayashi was a comedian at the time and his comments came in a skit.

He said on Thursday, according to the Yomiuri newspaper: "I understand that my stupid choice of words at that time was wrong, and I regret it. I apologise to those who feel uncomfortable. I am sorry."

The International Olympic Committee confirmed his dismissal, stating: "Tokyo 2020 Olympic opening ceremony creative team member Kentaro Kobayashi was dismissed from his post after a joke he had made in the past about a painful historical event was brought to light. Following this, the Tokyo 2020 organising committee relieved Mr Kobayashi of his role as a member of the team.

"In the short time remaining before the opening ceremony, we offer our deepest apologies for any offence and anguish this matter may have caused to the many people involved in the Olympic Games, as well as to the citizens of Japan and the world."

The Nazi-led Holocaust saw around six million Jews murdered during the Second World War.

His dismissal raises questions about how the ceremony will now go ahead. It was already set to proceed in front of a near-empty stadium, with fans being barred from attending Olympic events in Tokyo due to COVID-19 concerns.

Seiko Hashimoto, president of the organising committee, told a news conference:  "How we're going to handle the ceremony is currently being discussed."

Asked whether the resignation could overshadow the Olympics, Hashimoto said: "Because of COVID, society united. How are we going to bring solidarity to society? We have to review the message to deliver to the world.

"Yes, we are facing a lot of challenges right now. Maybe that's the reason why these negative incidents will impact the messages we want to deliver to the world. The value of Tokyo 2020 is still exciting and we want to send our messages to the world."

Speaking before the damaging footage emerged, IOC president Thomas Bach said the opening ceremony would be "a moment of joy and relief, joy in particular for the athletes".

He said the relief would come "because the road to this opening ceremony was not the easiest one".

Bach added: "There is a saying that if you feel this kind of relief, there are stones falling from your heart, so if you hear some stones falling then maybe they are coming from my heart."

Double Olympic gold medallist Andy Murray feels Tokyo 2020 can provide a "beacon of hope" after the disruption that continues to be caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Murray is set to take part in his fourth Games as he looks to defend the singles title he won at London 2012 and then successfully retained four years later in Rio. 

Delayed by a year due to the global pandemic and due to be played out in front of no spectators in Japan, Murray is excited to compete as he bids to build momentum following his injury problems.  

"Going to a second Olympics as defending champion is exciting and I am looking forward to the challenge. The Games are the biggest competition in the world and as athletes we train hard for moments like this," the Team GB tennis star wrote on the official Olympics website. 

"Tokyo 2020 in 2021 is unique, falling during the pandemic and we have seen incredible resilience from athletes, fans and all those involved in making this happen. 

"In so many ways, right now it's more important than ever that people around the world get to reconnect to the raw emotion of sport, watch incredible performances and celebrate the achievement of athletes coming from around the world.

"It's going to be amazing to be playing in Tokyo and my own experiences are why I think the Games have never been more relevant. For those that are still experiencing the worst of the pandemic and others that have lost so much over the last year, this Games can be a beacon of hope."

Murray is part of six-strong tennis squad, which includes men's doubles partner Joe Salisbury – an Olympic debutant and recent French Open mixed doubles winner – and Neal Skupski, that will compete for Team GB.

Current British number one Dan Evans is the other men's player in the squad, while Heather Watson and Johanna Konta appear at their third and second respective Games to make up the team.

While Murray will chase doubles glory with Salisbury, the 34-year-old is not taking his eyes off individual success either.

"On a personal level, the Tokyo Games are significant. My goal is to try and win a medal. Ideally a gold one for my country," the two-time Wimbledon champion added.

"I know first-hand the impact that playing sport for a career has on your body. I know how difficult and frustrating that journey can be. I know the heartbreak of missing a major tournament and the journey of recovery."

The long-standing Olympic motto of 'faster, higher, stronger' has been updated at the Tokyo Games, it was revealed on Tuesday.

The founder of the modern Games, Pierre de Coubertin, backed the original motto in 1894 and 127 years later it has been refreshed.

Now it reads 'faster, higher, stronger - together', with International Olympic Committee members said to have unanimously agreed to the update.

IOC president Thomas Bach said: "We want to put a strong focus on solidarity. That’s what the word 'together' means – solidarity.”

Bach explained: "Solidarity fuels our mission to make the world a better place through sport. We can only go faster, we can only aim higher, we can only become stronger by standing together – in solidarity.”

IOC spokesman Mark Adams added: "The idea is that you are unable to go faster, to go higher, to be stronger without a team around you.

"It's not just about individual excellence. It's about the team around you, whether it is a medical team, a coach, your family, your entourage.

"The idea to update the motto is to really understand that if you want to go faster, go by yourself. If you want to go far, go together.

"The IOC is keen to stress the value of solidarity - it is key. If you really want to do something, you have to work with other people to achieve that."

Olympics chief Thomas Bach revealed he masked his concerns about Tokyo 2020 going ahead because of fears the Games might "fall to pieces".

Bach is president of the International Olympic Committee, which he said "had to show a way out of this crisis" in order for the global event to go ahead amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking on Tuesday in Tokyo, Bach said the IOC had experienced daily concerns about the Olympics being able to proceed but had to present a positive message to stakeholders including sporting federations, sponsors, the Japanese government and broadcasters.

Had the IOC been open about worries for the Games, which were delayed by a year due to the global health crisis, Bach said it could have triggered a chain of events that would have seen the Olympics collapse.

Instead, the Games get under way this week, with the opening ceremony due to take place on Friday.

Bach said: "Over the past 15 months, we had to take daily decisions on very uncertain grounds. We had doubts every day. We deliberated and we discussed. There were sleepless nights. Like everyone else in the world, we did not know, I did not know, what the future would hold."

Bach appeared to scoff at any suggestion of the IOC deciding to "blindly force ahead at any price" and spoke of the "extreme stress test of the coronavirus crisis".

"Imagine for a moment what it would have meant if the leader of the Olympic movement, the IOC, would have added to the already many doubts surrounding the Olympic Games, if we would have poured fuel onto this fire," Bach said.

"How could we have convinced the athletes to continue to prepare for the Olympic Games by adding to their uncertainty?

"How could we have convinced all the other stakeholders to remain committed to the Olympic Games if we would have even deepened their already serious doubts.

"Our doubts could have become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The Olympic Games could have fallen to pieces. This is why, we had to keep these doubts to ourselves. This today I can admit and say it, it also weighed on us, it weighed on me.

"But in order to arrive at this day today, we had to give confidence. We had to show a way out of this crisis. We had to provide stability. We had to build trust. We had to give hope."

The IOC announced updated COVID-19 case figures for the Games on Tuesday, with 40 confirmed cases involving residents of Japan and 31 affecting those from overseas.

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