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Tokyo Olympics: Spectators from abroad to be barred from games this summer, says IOC

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By AP

This photo shows the Olympic rings installed at the Japan Olympic Museum in Tokyo on Friday, March 19, 2021.


This photo shows the Olympic rings installed at the Japan Olympic Museum in Tokyo on Friday, March 19, 2021.

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AP Photo/Hiro Komae

Spectators from abroad will be barred from the Tokyo Olympics when they open in four months, the IOC and local organizers said Saturday.

The decision was announced after an online meeting of the International Olympic Committee, the Japanese government, the Tokyo government, the International Paralympic Committee, and local organizers.

The move was expected and rumored for several months. Officials said the risk was too great to admit ticket holders from overseas during a pandemic, an idea strongly opposed by the Japanese public. Japan has attributed about 8,800 deaths to COVID-19 and has controlled the virus better than most countries.

“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,” the Tokyo organizing committee said in a statement.

About 1 million tickets are reported to have been sold to fans from outside Japan. Organizers have promised refunds, but this will be determined by so-called Authorized Ticket Resellers that handle sales outside Japan. These dealers charge fees of up to 20% above the ticket price. It is not clear if the fees will be refunded.

“We could wait until the very last moment to decide, except for the spectators,” said Seiko Hashimoto, the president of the organizing committee. “They have to secure accommodations and flights. So we have to decide early otherwise we will cause a lot of inconvenience from them. I know this is a very tough issue.”

IOC President Thomas Bach called it a “difficult decision.”

“We have to take decisions that may need sacrifice from everybody,” he said.

The financial burden of lost ticket sales falls on Japan. The local organizing committee budget called from $800 million income from ticket sales, the third largest income source in the privately finance budget. Any shortfall in the budget will have to be made up by Japanese government entities.

Overall, Japan is officially spending $15.4 billion to organize the Olympics. Several government audits say the actual cost may be twice that much. All but $6.7 billion is public money.

About 4.45 million tickets were sold to Japan residents. Organizers are expected next month to announce the capacity at venues, which will be filled by local residents.

The ban on fans from abroad comes just days before the Olympic torch relay starts Thursday from Fukushima prefecture in northeastern Japan. It will last for 121 days, crisscross Japan with 10,000 runners, and is to end on July 23 at the opening ceremony at the National Stadium in Tokyo.

The relay will be a test for the Olympics and Paralympics, which will involve 15,400 athletes entering Japan. They will be tested before leaving home, tested upon arrival in Japan, and tested frequently while they reside in a secure “bubble” in the Athletes Village alongside Tokyo Bay.

Athletes will not be required to be vaccinated to enter Japan, but many will be.

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Portugal doesn’t have a big tradition of winter sports but there are some chasing the Olympic dream

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Portugal doesn't have a big tradition of winter sports but there are some chasing the Olympic dream

Portugal doesn’t have a big tradition of winter sports, but the country has at least two athletes aiming to reach the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022, even if their preparation is on wheels.

25-year-old José Cabeça’s has achieved what no one had ever done before: a performance at a world championship that allows him to represent Portugal in a cross-country skiing event in Beijing.

Not bad for someone who learnt to ski in just one year in order to fulfil his Olympic dream.

“People ask – how is it possible that in one year he goes from not being able to ski to be in a position to make it to the Olympics and become the first Portuguese to qualify through the world championships?” says Cabeça.

“There’s a lot of hard work for several years, obviously not in skiing. Triathlon has played a key role. I’ve managed to learn, little by little and all by myself. I don’t have a skiing coach. I’ve learnt with other athletes and by watching videos.”

Cabeça started his cross-country skiing adventure about a year and a half ago in France, where he lived for two and a half months to “be able to train”, because “it is impossible in Portugal”.

A few months later, in February this year, he reached the high point of his early career in the sport, with a score at the Nordic World Ski Championships in Germany, that opened a spot for Portugal at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

From roller to ice speed skating

Diogo Marreiros is a silver medalist in the 10km roller speed skating world championships. He switched to ice to fulfil his Olympic dream.

Currently, he trains almost every day in Lagos on one of the two tracks suitable for this sport in the region and he’s positive about the challenge of training conditions for winter sports in Portugal.

“At this time of year, ice speed skaters travel to warm countries and keep their form with lots of cycling and roller skating. Being far is not a big problem as all the skaters are currently away from the ice,” says Marreiros.

Marreiros first put skates on at the age of four and won his first European Championship medal at 16.

The 29-year-old skater has accumulated medals on wheels ever since, including European vice-champion and the world vice-champion 10km Pontos.

Over the last four years, he has been preparing over the winter season in Germany and the Netherlands, where he has been improving his “technique and physical shape,” allowing him to “qualify for the world cups” scheduled for the end of the year.

He’s even launched a crowdfunding campaign to fund his preparation on ice and train in the Netherlands.

His ranking in the world cups taking place over four weekends in a row in Poland, Norway, Canada and the United States from 14 November to 14 December will determine if he will be in China in February.

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Nyman offers a masterclass on closing day of Antalya Grand Slam

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By Richard Good
 & International Judo Federation

Nyman offers a masterclass on closing day of Antalya Grand Slam

On the final day of the Antalya Grand Slam, it was the turn of the heavyweights to put on their show. And Sweden’s Marc Nyman offered a masterclass in newaza, or floor-based judo, taking the -90kg title with a golden score wazari against Hungary’s Krisztian Toth.

Dr Laszlo Toth, the president of the Hungarian Judo Association, handed out the medals.

The 2018 World Champion Shori Hamada offered her own demonstration of precision newaza throughout the day and she claimed her third Grand Slam gold medal with victory over Poland’s Beata Pacut in the -78kg final.

Skander Hachicha, the president of the Tunisian Judo Federation, made the presentations.

Hershko digs deep for first-ever Grand Slam gold

Azerbaijan’s Zelim Kotsoiev won a tactical final against Aaron Wolf of Japan to take his first-ever Grand Slam Gold in the -100kg category.

IJF Events Director, Dr Lisa Allan presented the medals.

Israel’s Raz Hershko won her first-ever Grand Slam in an exciting finale to the +78kg contest against China’s Xu Shiyan. With Hershko a wazari up, Xu scored on the buzzer to take the match to a golden score. But Hershko dug deep with a second wazari to claim the gold.

Ki-Young Jeon, the IJF referee supervisor, gave out the medals.

“Wow, it was crazy. I didn’t know what to do with myself,” said Hershko afterwards. “I was so excited so the first thing I did was scream and shout like crazy because I said ‘wow I won this fight’. It was so dramatic and it was my win, it was my first win and it was a big win and I’m so happy.”

Remarkable ippon secures gold for Bashaev

And in the +100kg contest, Russia’s Tamerlan Bashaev was on top form throughout the day, storming through the preliminaries to set up a final against World and Olympic Silver Medallist Harasawa Hisayoshi. It was Bashaev who took the contest, with a remarkable ippon.

Florin Daniel Lascau, the acting IJF refereeing director, presented him with his medal.

“I think it’s a part of judo,” Bashaev said afterwards. “Because when we fight, when I win against my opponent it’s like I destroyed his dream, so I can’t be like, oh I’m the best.”

The home athletes also enjoyed some fine successes throughout the three days of the tournament, contributing to an incredible festival of judo in Antalya, Turkey.

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Judo Grand Slam: Georgia, Canada & Mongolia on Top at Tbilisi 2021

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The final day of the 2021 Tbilisi Grand Slam came to a climactic conclusion. Three countries actually won two gold medals: Mongolia (third place), Canada (second place) and Georgia (first place), while 22 have medallists and 36 placed athletes in the final block. The host country can be satisfied with this result. In a very tough and competitive context, to be among those at the top of the standings was almost guaranteed for Georgia, but the first place was anything but certain.

Georgian Throws a Giant in over 100kg Final

Georgian powerhouse Gela Zaalishvili gave the home nation so much to cheer for, throwing big for one Ippon after another, all through his preliminary contests. In the over 100 kilo-final, he stunned onlookers by launching the Brazilian World and Olympic medallist Rafael Silva through the air! The young Georgian had unstoppable raw power. Some of which he saved to celebrate with his coach.

“I’m always ready to fight for my country, for my homeland. I think this is the right way to live, I put in big effort, I always train hard, and always try to win,” explains Zaalishvili. “This gives me psychological strength, and belief in myself. This gives me big power.”

Final

SILVA, Rafael (BRA) vs. ZAALISHVILI, Gela (GEO)

Bronze Medal Contests

INANEISHVILI, Saba (GEO) vs. ERDOGAN, Cemal (TUR)

SARNACKI, Maciej (POL) vs. GRANDA, Andy (CUB)

Final Results

1. ZAALISHVILI, Gela (GEO)

2. SILVA, Rafael (BRA)

3. GRANDA, Andy (CUB)

3. INANEISHVILI, Saba (GEO)

5. ERDOGAN, Cemal (TUR)

5. SARNACKI, Maciej (POL)

7. HEGYI, Stephan (AUT)

7. YUSUPOV, Alisher (UZB)

Putting in the groundwork at the under 90kg Final

At the under 90kg event, veteran groundwork specialist Marcus Nyman won in typical style, a hold-down secured him his first Grand Slam Gold in 5 years. Nyman’s greater height disturbed Mungai, his Italian opponent, who had some difficulties getting close to him, but what is maybe even more dangerous with the Swede is his skill in ne-waza. An expert sequence finally caught Mungai with a strong immobilisation for ippon and Nyman’s third victory in a grand slam. The President of the International Judo Federation Mr Marius Vizer presented the medals.

Final

MUNGAI, Nicholas (ITA) vs. NYMAN, Marcus (SWE)

Bronze Medal Contests

BOBONOV, Davlat (UZB) vs. KOCHMAN, Li (ISR)

JANDREEV, Shermukhammad (UZB) vs. GANTULGA, Altanbagana (MGL)

Final Results

1. NYMAN, Marcus (SWE)

2. MUNGAI, Nicholas (ITA)

3. BOBONOV, Davlat (UZB)

3. GANTULGA, Altanbagana (MGL)

5. JANDREEV, Shermukhammad (UZB)

5. KOCHMAN, Li (ISR)

7. BOZBAYEV, Islam (KAZ)

7. BROWN, Colton (USA)

Woman of the Day

Our woman of the day was China’s Xu Shiyan – a big Ura Nage was the highlight of the over 78kg final, giving her a first-ever Grand Slam Gold. She was awarded her medal by IJF Sport Director, Mr Armen Bagdasarov.

“Because of love. I think because I’m a young athlete I need to prepare more for all competitions, especially for the IJF World Tour and the Olympics,” Shiyan says. “But now i’m young, I love judo, so i’m very passionate”

Final

NUNES, Rochele (POR) vs. XU, Shiyan (CHN)

Bronze Medal Contests

HERSHKO, Raz (ISR) vs. SOUZA, Beatriz (BRA)

ALTHEMAN, Maria Suelen (BRA) vs. WANG, Yan (CHN)

Final Results

1. XU, Shiyan (CHN)

2. NUNES, Rochele (POR)

3. ALTHEMAN, Maria Suelen(BRA)

3. SOUZA, Beatriz (BRA)

5. HERSHKO, Raz (ISR)

5. WANG, Yan (CHN)

7. KALANINA, Yelyzaveta (UKR)

7. SLUTSKAYA, Maryna (BLR)

Canada Clinches under 100kg title

In the under 100kg category, Canada’s Shady Elnahas climbed to the top of the podium. He defeated home favourite Sulamanidze in the final, catching the Georgian with a last-minute Kouchi gari, and holding out for the win! Mr Mikhail Kaveleshvili, MP and Chairperson of the Sports & Youth Issues Committee handed Shady his long-awaited gold medal.

Double Dutch in the under 78kg Final

Meanwhile, the under-78kg final was an all dutch affair. As is usually the case when two athletes from the same country meet in the final block, both struggled to take the upper hand, until a sequence on the floor that looked like any other but allowed Natascha Ausma to force a submission with a clinical strangle, but in true Judo Fashion immediately check on her friend and opponent – Karen Stevenson. Mr Sergey Soloveychik, Vice President of the IJF and President of the European Judo Union, awarded the medals.

Final

AUSMA, Natascha (NED) vs. STEVENSON, Karen (NED)

Bronze Medal Contests

GRAF, Bernadette (AUT) vs. LANIR, Inbar (ISR)

MA, Zhenzhao (CHN) vs. BABINTSEVA, Aleksandra (RUS)

Final Results

1. AUSMA, Natascha (NED)

2. STEVENSON, Karen (NED)

3. LANIR, Inbar (ISR)

3. MA, Zhenzhao (CHN)

5. BABINTSEVA, Aleksandra (RUS)

5. GRAF, Bernadette (AUT)

7. BROLIH, Patricija (SLO)

7. SHMELEVA, Antonina (RUS)

Plenty more to come

The Georgian Judo juggernaut kept rolling on day 3 – so many dynamic fighters, putting on an epic Judo show. Young up and comers shone through much of the day, defeating household names and Champions. The competition came to a fitting end with Georgia on top of the podium, once again.

Mr Florin Daniel Lascau, IJF Sport Director & Acting Referee Director presented the coveted medal to the Georgian victor, who shared the moment with his teammate beside him on the podium. Concluding yet another gripping tournament for the International Judo Federation.

Join us on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, in Antalya, for a new grand slam in less than a week to continue to follow the adventure of the Olympic qualification races.

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