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Tokyo Day 4 Highlights: Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka and Upsets in Tokyo


Simone Biles and her teammates cheering on Jordan Chiles during her balance beam routine.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

TOKYO — Simone Biles unexpectedly pulled out of the women’s team gymnastics competition after losing her bearings in the air mid-vault. Amid the shake-up, a stronger Russian squad beat the Americans to the gold medal; the United States was second.

The U.S. met Japan in the last Olympic softball final, in 2008, and Japan won. Softball was then dropped from the Games, and on its return the same two teams met. Japan won again, 2-0.

The U.S. women’s basketball team began its Olympics with a closer-than-expected win over Nigeria, 81-72. A’ja Wilson led all scorers with 19 points.

The American Lydia Jacoby won gold in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke, while her more heralded teammate Lilly King finished third. Tom Dean and Duncan Scott went one-two for Britain in the 200 freestyle.

Naomi Osaka lit the cauldron at the opening ceremony, but was eliminated in the third round of the tennis tournament, 6-1, 6-4, by Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic.

The American men’s rugby team took a 21-7 halftime lead against Britain in the quarterfinals but couldn’t hang on and lost, 26-21.

Carissa Moore of the United States and Italo Ferreira of Brazil won the first Olympic surfing gold medals.

Flora Duffy won the first gold medal ever for Bermuda, in the women’s triathlon.

The U.S. women’s soccer team, which lost to Sweden and beat New Zealand, split the difference and drew against Australia. The team advanced to the quarterfinals.

Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
Credit…Alexandra Garcia/The New York Times
Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times
Credit…James Hill for The New York Times
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

The United States had won the most medals through Tuesday, with 25, although Japan had won the most gold meals, 10.

Simone Biles on Tuesday.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

In the biggest upset for the United States at the Tokyo Games, Simone Biles withdrew from the gymnastics team competition after bailing out of a vault halfway through and stumbling on the landing on Tuesday, handing Russia’s squad a path to the gold medal and ending American domination of the event for more than a decade.

Biles, Team U.S.A.’s star, said she pulled out of the event because she wasn’t in the right place mentally to perform the difficult and often dangerous skills she is known for, after feeling so much pressure to be successful. She had been struggling with the stress of being the greatest gymnast in history, she said, and outside expectations were just too hard to combat.

Before the event on Tuesday, she said she began “fighting all of those demons,” and couldn’t hold them back.

“At the end of the day, I have to do what was right for me,” she said, adding, “It just sucks that it happened at the Olympic Games.”

She said she was not certain whether she would compete again at the Tokyo Games, starting with the all-around final on Thursday, an individual competition.

Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Russia finished with a total score of 169.528, more than 3 points ahead of the United States, which won silver, at 166.096. Britain won the bronze medal with a score of 164.096.

The Russian team had surprised the Americans in qualifying on Sunday, raising the pressure even higher for the U.S. team to maintain its unchallenged success in the sport. The Americans were aware of their impressive winning streak, which included Biles and the team known as “the Final Five” at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games and Gabby Douglas and “the Fierce Five” at the 2012 London Games.

The last time the United States lost a team final in the Olympics or world championships was back in 2010, to Russia. Since then, the United States has been far ahead of the world in the sport, winning world championships and Olympics by at least 4 points, a wide margin in a sport where competitors are often divided by less than a single point. At the Rio Games, the Americans crushed the Russians by more than 8 points.

The U.S. team in Tokyo did what it could to preserve its legacy of success. But without Biles, the greatest gymnast in history, the Americans simply could not keep up with the Russians. They appeared to have a chance at gold going into the final event, the floor exercise, though, and were only eight-tenths out of first. An untimely fall by Jordan Chiles, who landed on her rear end on one of her tumbling passes, gave Chiles a score of just 11.7 points, putting the Russians securely in the lead, for good.

Artistic Gymnastics: Women’s Team All-Around Final

Members of the Japanese women’s softball team celebrated their victory after their gold medal match with the United States.
Credit…James Hill for The New York Times

YOKOHAMA, Japan — After a 13-year wait, of course it came down to this: the world’s softball powers, the United States and Japan, facing off for the gold medal on Tuesday. The last time the sport and these teams were in this position, Japan and Yukiko Ueno stunned the previously invincible United States and its stars Cat Osterman and Monica Abbott.

Given the chance to avenge that defeat, the top-ranked United States lost to its rival again.

Pitching in her third Olympics, Ueno, 39, vexed the United States once more. And with a few well-placed hits and a lucky bounce, Japan defeated the United States, 2-0, at Yokohama Baseball Stadium.

The loss was the only one suffered by the U.S. team at the Tokyo Games, where softball, dropped from the permanent Olympics program more than a decade ago, was returning for the first time since 2008.

On Monday, Japan rested Ueno and lost to the United States in the teams’ final game of round-robin play, a contest that essentially did not matter: Both teams were by far the best of the tournament, and they had already claimed spots in the gold medal game. A day later, with their best pitcher on the mound, Japan won with six scoreless innings from Ueno.

The game was the final Olympic appearance for Osterman, 38, and Abbott, 35, two veterans who also lost to Ueno and Japan in the 2008 final.

At the time, the United States had never failed to win an Olympic gold medal in softball, dating to the sport’s introduction at the Games in 1996. So when the sport returned to the Tokyo Games, there was little doubt that the United States and Japan would arrive back at this very position again, for the third time in Olympic softball history, fighting for the top prize.

Osterman, who entered Tuesday without having allowed a run in nearly 13 innings this tournament, started the game for the United States. She coughed up an infield single in the first inning — a comebacker she couldn’t field cleanly — and a double in the second. But she escaped without any damage, getting help from right fielder Michelle Moultrie and her running catch at the wall to end the second.

When Osterman walked Mana Atsumi to lead off the third inning, United States Coach Ken Erickson emerged from the dugout to bring in Ally Carda. After allowing another base runner, Carda pitched out of trouble.

Credit…James Hill for The New York Times

An inning later, though, Japan capitalized. Yamato Fujita singled, moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt and then advanced to third on a groundout. She gave Japan a 1-0 lead when Mana Atsumi chopped a ground ball and slid headfirst into first base to beat the throw.

Japan doubled its lead in the fifth inning, on a run-scoring single by Fujita after Abbott had entered the game in relief, and given the way Ueno was pitching, two runs felt like enough. At first base, Fujita pumped her first while the Japan dugout bounced in delight.

When Ueno surrendered a single to lead off the sixth inning, Miu Goto came on in relief and used a fortuitous ricochet to erase a threat by the United States. With runners on first and second, Amanda Chidester lined a ball at Japan’s third baseman Yu Yamamoto. It bounced off her left wrist and directly to the shortstop Atsumi, who then flipped the ball to second to complete the double play. Her mouth agape, Chidester stared in disbelief.

An inning later, Ueno returned to the mound to complete her work, once again stunning the United States.

Earlier in the day, Canada sneaked by Mexico, 3-2, to win the bronze medal, its first medal in Olympic softball.

Naomi Osaka’s loss to Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic on Tuesday ended her run at the Tokyo Games.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Naomi Osaka, the Japanese superstar who lit the cauldron during the Olympic opening ceremony, was eliminated in the third round of the women’s singles tennis tournament on Tuesday in straight sets.

Osaka lost, 6-1, 6-4, to Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic in barely over one hour in a stunning upset of the host country’s biggest sports celebrity. The defeat ended Osaka’s run at the Tokyo Games.


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Osaka breezed through her first two matches, the first competition she has faced since dropping out of the French Open in June to deal with mental health issues.

On Tuesday, however, Osaka struggled from the outset. For long stretches of the first set, Osaka battled to keep the ball in play. She committed 20 errors in the set, 14 of them unforced, and while she did not double-fault, she also could not rely on her serve to take control of the match the way she usually does.

The loss stunned the handful of people in attendance at Ariake Tennis Park, where a phalanx of Japanese photographers lined the court. Osaka, the No. 2 player in the world, was a favorite to win the tournament on home soil, especially after Ashleigh Barty, the world No. 1, was eliminated in the first round and other top players lost in Round 2.

Osaka, who dropped out of the French Open over a dispute with tournament officials about whether she should have to attend mandatory news conferences following her matches, made a brief visit to the players lounge after the match, then left the grounds before returning later to speak with the press.

Because Osaka lit the Olympic cauldron late Friday night in the climax of the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Games, her opening match was moved from Saturday morning to Sunday. As a result, Osaka was playing for a third consecutive day.

Osaka said the pressure of being the face of the event probably played a role in the loss but did not want to use it as an excuse.

“I should be used to it by now, but the scale of everything is a bit hard because of the break that I took,” she said. “I’m glad I did not lose in the first round, at least.”

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Osaka battled to find her rhythm in the second set, which was much tighter than the first. She nearly matched Vondrousova on points and even managed to break Vondrousova’s serve, but the young Czech played with a cool beyond her 22 years, given the magnitude of the moment. She neutralized Osaka’s power with a series of spins and slices that never allowed Osaka to get comfortable.

“This is one of the biggest matches of my career,” Vondrousova said. “Naomi is the greatest now. She was also the face of the Olympics, so it was also tough for her to play like this.”

Vondrousova said she benefited from the timing and location of the match. She and Osaka played second on center court, and with a roof in place on Tuesday, they did not have to worry about weather delays.

When it was over, she and Osaka had a brief exchange at the net, with Osaka telling her “good match” and Vondrousova thanking her for the compliment.

“I am really sorry but I am so happy with my game today,” Vondrousova said. “She has a lot of pressure playing in Japan and at the Olympics. I knew she was going to fight to the end. The end was very tight. It could have gone both ways. It’s so much pressure I can’t imagine.”

Olympic tennis has been a tough nut to crack for even some of the game’s greatest players, requiring six match wins in just eight days. Roger Federer has never won the gold medal.

Osaka arrived after causing upheaval in the tennis world, and intensified the discussion around athletes and mental health, when she withdrew from the French Open and skipped Wimbledon as well after her refusal to endure what she called the stress of mandatory news conferences at tennis events, especially at Grand Slam tournaments.

She revealed that she has struggled with depression since 2018, and said she is uncomfortable in the sometimes adversarial public setting of news conferences. She quit the French Open after organizers threatened to disqualify her if she did not meet her press obligations.

To the public, it was unclear for a while when Osaka would play again, even with the Olympics coming. Few knew that she had been asked in March to light the Olympic flame, and that skipping the tournament was extremely unlikely given the magnitude of that honor.

So in mid-June, she announced that she would skip Wimbledon, which is contested on grass, but would return to competition at the Tokyo Games.

Born in Japan, she chose to represent the country in international competition in 2019. Osaka’s mother is Japanese and her father is Haitian. She was raised largely in the United States. The Olympic tournament is also played on a hard court, the surface on which Osaka has had the most success.

On Friday night, she joined a short list of illustrious Olympic flame lighters, including Muhammad Ali and Wayne Gretzky. Two days later she was still absorbing the experience and adjusting to life as the face of Olympic stardom.

“I feel a little bit out of my body right now,” Osaka said on Sunday, minutes after winning her first-round match.

Osaka will now likely head to North America for the hard-court swing of the professional tennis tour that climaxes with the United States Open in late summer. She is the defending U.S. Open champion and will be looking for her fifth Grand Slam singles title.

Despite her loss on Tuesday, Osaka said: “All in all, really happy with my first Olympic experience.”

Italo Ferreira won the first surfing gold medal at the Olympics.
Credit…Francisco Seco/Associated Press

ICHINOMIYA, Japan — Surprisingly bold conditions created by a tropical storm turned the inaugural Olympic surfing contest into an unpredictable and sometimes spectacular affair of churning white water.

And through the foam rode Carissa Moore of the United States and Italo Ferreira of Brazil, two of the top surfers of the day, now the first to win Olympic gold medals in the sport.

Ferreira, one of Brazil’s army of surfing superstars, beat Japan’s Kanoa Igarashi, a Japanese American born and raised in Southern California.

In the first minute of the men’s final, Ferreira, 27, was swallowed by a wave. The first thing that popped to the surface was half of his broken board. A fresh board was given to him on the beach, and Ferreira was soon riding to a pair of scores that gave him a lead he never relinquished.

Igarashi, 23, had already knocked out one Brazilian superstar, Gabriel Medina, in the semifinal. With a 360-degree air with just seven minutes left in the 30-minute heat, Igarashi earned 9.33 points, one of the highest-scoring waves of the Games.

“The ride was probably about seven seconds long, but it felt like 70 minutes long,” Igarashi said immediately afterward. “I felt every single little moment. I felt my heartbeat, I felt my hair in the wind, I felt being in the air. And I had thoughts while I was in the air. It was kind of surreal, but as soon as I landed it I knew it was one of the biggest moments of my career.”

It ensured him at least a silver medal.

Owen Wright of Australia beat Medina in the men’s bronze medal match. Amuro Tsuzuki of Japan, who grew up riding waves on the surrounding coast, beat Caroline Marks of the United States to win bronze for the women.

Credit…Lisi Niesner/Reuters

Moore, 28, the four-time world champion born and raised in Hawaii, met underdog Bianca Buitendag of South Africa in the day’s last heat for the gold medal.

Moore stamped her career with three victories in little more than six hours. The final buzzer brought tears to her eyes, and she blew a kiss to supporters on the beach in the fading daylight.

Buitendag, 27, had arrived through a string of upsets, beating seven-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore in the third round and 19-year-old American Caroline Marks in the semifinal. But her ride ended without suspense against Moore, and her consolation was a silver medal that few could have expected.

The sudden decision to squeeze so much surfing into one day was made on Monday night, as the storm churned off the east coast of central Japan, sending swells toward Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach. Surfing’s unique schedule, or lack of one, originally had the contest ending no sooner than Wednesday, but it was determined that the wildest waves were coming a day early.

Moore didn’t seem to mind. After winning her semifinal heat, she said she was happy to keep the momentum going. “There’s nothing to hold back anymore,” she said, before winning her third heat of the day.

A 0-0 tie with Australia on a cool night delivered the United States to the quarterfinals of the Olympic tournament.
Credit…Shinji Akagi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

KASHIMA, Japan — In three games at the Tokyo Olympic soccer tournament, the United States scored pretty goals and poacher’s goals and, somehow, five offside goals.

On Tuesday the team scored no goals, and got exactly the result it needed. A 0-0 tie with Australia on a cool night delivered the United States — a medal favorite whose generational dominance was called into question last week — to the quarterfinals of the Olympic tournament. They will face the Netherlands in a rematch of the 2019 World Cup final, when the U.S. won, 2-0, to clinch their second consecutive World Cup trophy.

For a United States team that was humbled in an opening loss to Sweden and then gathered itself and a bit of confidence with six goals (and four offside ones that didn’t count) in a victory against New Zealand on Saturday, a tie against a physical and potentially dangerous Australia team felt like a job well done.

When it ended, Coach Vlatko Andonovski turned and high-fived his assistants as if he had won, and the players huddled with friends on the Australian team.

The Matildas, as Australia’s team is known, will do the waiting now: They finished third in the group, and will most likely face a group winner, too.

Lydia Jacoby is the first Alaskan to compete and win gold in Olympic swimming.
Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

TOKYO — As expected, an American woman was edging ahead in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke on Tuesday morning.

But the American was not named Lilly King, the defending Olympic champion and world-record holder. Instead, in the race of her life, Lydia Jacoby, a 17-year-old Alaskan, tapped the wall first and then gazed toward the scoreboard at the Tokyo Aquatics Center. It took her a nanosecond to register the result.

“Insane,” she said.

Swimming has delivered surprises at the Tokyo Games, and Jacoby’s gold medal performance ranked among the most shocking so far. The first Alaskan to compete in Olympic swimming, she trains with her local club, the Seward Tsunami Swim Club, which is not to be confused with the usual powerhouse programs from California and Texas.

On Tuesday, against the very best in the world, Jacoby proved that geography did not seem to matter that much at all.

“I think that me coming from a small club and a state with such a small population just shows everyone that you can do it no matter where you’re from,” said Jacoby, who will be a senior in high school this fall.

Classmates and friends cheered her on from afar at watch parties in Seward — and went bonkers when she chased down Tatjana Schoenmaker of South Africa in the closing meters. (The videos went viral within minutes.)

King, 24, claimed the bronze — an anticlimactic result for one of the sport’s most outspoken personalities. Despite having aimed to become the first woman to win two gold medals in the event, she said she was pleased with her race.

“And so excited for Lydia,” said King, who had not lost a race in the 100-meter breaststroke since 2015. “I love to see the future of American breaststroke coming up like this and to have somebody to go at it head-to-head when we’re in the country.”

Another relative upset played out in the men’s 100-meter backstroke, an event that Americans had won at every Olympics since 1996. But Ryan Murphy, the defending Olympic champion, got off to a slow start and finished third behind a pair of Russians, Evgeny Rylov and Kliment Kolesnikov.

Murphy said he was not disappointed.

“That was my best swim of the year, so it’s nice to be able to do that in the pressure-packed final,” he said, adding: “Shoot for the stars, land on the moon. That’s kind of what it is. Winning an Olympic gold means you’re the best in the world. Being third in the world is no slouch.”

King had made waves at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro for engaging in a personal rivalry with Yuliya Efimova of Russia, a six-time world champion. Ahead of Rio, Efimova had served a 16-month suspension for doping, then was allowed to compete despite failing another drug test.

King was highly critical of that decision. After outswimming Efimova in the Olympic final, King splashed water in Efimova’s lane. (King later said it was unintentional.)

Yet in the run-up to the Tokyo Games, King continued to be outspoken about cheating, expressing concern about spotty drug-testing protocols during the pandemic.

On Tuesday, there was no apparent controversy — only good vibes. King was finishing up her interviews in the media area when Jacoby arrived.

“Off to you, kiddo,” King told her. “No international incidents today.”

Swimming: Women’s 100m Breaststroke Final

Naomi Osaka, who became the face of the Olympics after lighting the cauldron during the opening ceremony, was eliminated in the third round of the women’s singles tournament.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

There are favorites, and there are underdogs. And the favorites usually win, of course.

But with more than 300 gold medals to be awarded at these Olympics, the laws of chance say that sometimes the favorites will stumble. It has happened before. The Russian ice hockey team in 1980. The wrestler Aleksandr Karelin in 2000. The American softball team in 2008.

In just the first few days of the Tokyo Olympics, some big names are joining the list.

After Simone Biles abruptly withdrew from the team competition Tuesday night, the U.S. took home the silver medal in an event they had long dominated and were favored to win. Russia won gold, and Britain claimed bronze.

Osaka became the face of the Games when she lit the cauldron at the opening ceremony. A gold medal in tennis would seem to have been the logical end to her story. Yet Osaka lost Tuesday to the 42nd-ranked player in the world, Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, in a third-round trouncing, 6-1, 6-4. It took less than an hour.

Barty, the Australian tennis player who is the world No. 1, was eliminated in the first round after she fell in straight sets to Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain, 6-4, 6-3.

The United States men’s basketball team had a couple of stumbles in exhibitions leading to the Games but was still a big favorite going in. It lost its opening game to France.

The World Cup-winning U.S. women’s soccer team showed little of its customary swagger in a 3-0 capitulation to Sweden. It also played Australia to a scoreless draw, although that was good enough for the U.S. to advance to the knockout round. On the men’s side, the pretournament favorite Spain opened with a draw against Egypt.

Japan beat the U.S., 2-0, on Tuesday in a replay of the last time these two rival teams faced off for the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Games, when Japan won and softball was then dropped from the Olympics. The win marks Japan’s second consecutive Olympic gold in the event.

China rarely loses in diving, and even less often in synchronized diving. Yet the men’s team lost to Britain in the synchronized platform event.

Another bad day for China, as Japan ended China’s dominance in table tennis with a gold medal in mixed doubles.

China won all four gold medals at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games and the team of Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen was a heavy favorite this time. But Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito defeated them.

Granted, it was foretold, as her emerging rival, Ariarne Titmus of Australia, had posted better times than her recently in the 400-meter freestyle. But it was still stunning to see Ledecky, one of the most dominant distance swimmers in a generation, out-touched at the wall to be relegated to the silver medal.

There’s a long way to go, and many more favorites. The U.S. women’s basketball team. The Serbian three-on-three basketball team. The Russian synchronized swimmers. Believe it or not, the Sinkovic brothers of Croatia in the pair rowing event.

Here’s a not very daring forecast: They might not all win.

The men’s 4x100 freestyle relay team during the medal ceremony on Monday.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

TOKYO — American athletes may terrify competitors on their way to winning Olympic medals.

And they may be terrifying, or at least mystifying, them on the medal podium with their big, protruding, white pleated masks specially designed for the occasion.

Social media wags have likened them to something the villain Bane in the Batman movies might wear, or Hannibal Lecter.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times
Credit…Jack Taylor/Getty Images

The masks were designed and provided by Nike, although its logo is not on them (“USA” is). They were meant to invoke origami in the spirit of the Tokyo Games.

The unique origami-inspired pleated design allows for optimal air flow and air volume within the lightweight, mesh mask,” a company statement said.

Although thickly woven, they are not N95s, the kind of masks that filter airborne particles at high efficiency, the statement said.

Called the Nike Venturer, the mask is labeled as “coming soon” on Nike’s website and retails for $60.

Supply your own medal.

Ryan Murphy, center, won bronze in the 100-meter backstroke on Tuesday.
Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

In a stunning upset, Ryan Murphy of the United States settled for bronze in the men’s 100-meter backstroke. American men had not lost in the event since 1992, and Murphy was the defending Olympic champion. The Russians Evgeny Rylov and Kliment Kolesnikov finished first and second.

British swimmers dominated the men’s 200-meter freestyle as Tom Dean won gold and Duncan Scott won silver. Kieran Smith of the United States, the bronze medalist in the 400-meter freestyle, got off to a slow start and could not recover, finishing sixth. He had entered the final with the second-fastest time in the semifinals.

The women’s 100-meter backstroke was a scorcher. Kaylee McKeown of Australia won gold in an Olympic record of 57.47 seconds. Kylie Masse of Canada took silver, and Regan Smith of the United States, who had set an Olympic record in the semifinals, won bronze.

Madison Hughes, left, of the United States and teammate Matai Leuta react after the U.S. team lost to Britain in their men’s rugby sevens quarterfinal on Tuesday.
Credit…Shuji Kajiyama/Associated Press

CHOFU, Japan — Rugby sevens is an unforgiving game. One mistake can alter the outcome of an entire match, which lasts just 14 minutes. That’s what befell the American side in their quarterfinal match against Britain on Tuesday.

American hooker Steve Tomasin was given a yellow card for intentionally knocking the ball forward to stop play, sending him to the sideline for two minutes and leaving the American side short handed. Eleven seconds after Tomasin was sent off, the British scored their second try to cut the American lead to 21-14. They never looked back, winning 26-21.

The British will play in the medal round on Wednesday while the Americans will play consolation matches for fifth place.

The U.S. team was ranked second in the world before the pandemic and out to redeem their performance in the Rio Games, when they missed advancing by just one point. By beating Kenya and Ireland in the so-called group of death, they qualified for the quarterfinals, an achievement in itself.

The Americans came out flying against Britain, scoring three tries within five minutes, including two that came after they converted British miscues. But the British side converted a try at the end of the first half to narrow the American lead. The Americans never scored again.

“We started really well, we took control of the game, we had an opportunity,” American coach Mike Friday said. “We’re hugely gutted. Sevens is brutal. Little moments, little referee calls either go your way or don’t go your way and that’s the difference between being in the medal rounds tomorrow.”

Sevens, the faster, more wide-open cousin of 15-man rugby union, is more about speed and finding open space. Playing a man down on a vast field gives the opponent a huge advantage, and the British didn’t waste the opportunity.

Regardless of the result in the consolations on Wednesday, the Americans are likely to go home disappointed. Rugby enthusiasts, always looking for a way to attract players when there are so many other sports to take up, hoped that winning a medal in Tokyo would inspire a new generation of players to take up the game.

While the American men’s sevens team has made progress in recent years, it fell short in Tokyo of bringing home the ultimate arbiter of sports success.

“We’ve gone from being no-hopers in 2014 to participating in 2016 to being contenders in 2020,” Friday said. “But for a decision or two, we might be in the medal rounds. The books won’t show that. They’ll show we went out in the quarterfinals.

“In America,” he added, “that sporting landscape is about medals and winning.”

Flora Duffy of Bermuda won the triathlon by more than a minute.
Credit…Hannah Mckay/Reuters

In a sport where transitions are everything, Flora Duffy is the best of the best.

Duffy, 33, one of two athletes representing Bermuda, took home gold in the women’s triathlon event, completing the 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike ride and 10-kilometer run in 1 hour 55 minutes 36 seconds. She crossed the finish line by herself, more than a minute before Georgia Taylor-Brown of Britain and Katie Zaferes of the United States finished, and greeted her competitors with open arms.

It was the first gold medal for Bermuda at the Olympic Games, and only the second medal in the country’s history. A bronze medal went to the boxer Clarence Hill at the 1976 Games in Montreal.

Taylor-Brown fell to fifth place after the bicycle portion because of a flat tire and lost about 15 seconds on the lead group. She told the BBC that “the first lap of the run was panic mode.”

Duffy was two seconds behind Zaferes coming out of the swim transition, and once off their bikes, Duffy and Zaferes were neck and neck. But it was Duffy’s fluidity through the run that saw her across the finish line first.

Duffy is the only person to win three triathlon world titles in the same year, capturing the World Triathlon championship race, the Xterra world championships and the ITU Cross world championships in 2016. She came in eighth place in the 2016 Olympic Games. In 2018 she collected the gold medal in the Commonwealth Games.

Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

In an interview earlier this year, Duffy said heat, humidity and water temperature would be the biggest variables. And her prediction proved correct, as athletes battled 80-degree temperatures and 90 percent humidity and wet conditions — the race was delayed by 15 minutes because of heavy rains.

Duffy, who lives and trains in Boulder, Colo., began competing in triathlon when she was 7. Her weekly training regimen includes six swims, six bike rides and four to six runs.

Congratulations came in from around the tiny island nation.

“You’ve worked so hard and you’ve made an entire island proud,” tweeted the premier of Bermuda, David Burt.

On Monday, Kristian Blummenfelt of Norway took home gold in the men’s triathlon. Blummenfelt, who was in fifth place after the swim and bicycle portions, finished in 1:45:04.

The Dutch delegation said it was unhappy about the quarantine conditions for those who tested positive for the coronavirus, two officials said during a news conference on Tuesday. They said they would raise their concerns with the International Olympic Committee, as well as the Dutch ambassador in Japan.

Six members of the Dutch delegation, including at least two athletes, tested positive for the coronavirus, they said.

“They’ve lost their Olympic dream, and then they’re being put in terrible circumstances,” Maurits Hendriks, the technical director for the Dutch Olympic Committee, said, adding that those quarantined “weren’t allowed to see a moment of daylight.” He called their rooms “little boxes.”

A part of the Dutch delegation left the Netherlands for Tokyo on July 17 on a KLM flight, according to the Dutch broadcaster NOS. Several coronavirus measures were in place then, according to the officials, but people tested positive regardless.

“So you ask yourself, where do you get infected? It could be before leaving, while at the airport, in the airplane, but also at arrival in Japan,” Mr. Hendriks said.

Mr. Hendriks told the NOS that he had asked Olympic organizers for months about what the protocols would be in this situation. “We would’ve wanted to know this beforehand, so we could’ve done something about it,” he said.

According to the Olympic playbooks, athletes with positive P.C.R. tests are to be isolated at designated facilities, though the location and length of isolation vary depending on the severity of the case. Japan’s health authorities require a 10-day quarantine at facilities outside the Olympic Village, and multiple negative P.C.R. tests before discharge, an I.O.C. official said in an email.

An Olympic staff member handing out masks to swimmers as they exit the pool at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

As the world’s top athletes compete in near-empty Olympic venues cordoned off from the public, the coronavirus is racing through the rest of Tokyo: The city recorded a record number of new infections on Tuesday, suggesting that the measures that have kept the pandemic in check in Japan over the last year are beginning to lose their effectiveness just as the Summer Games have begun.

Tokyo officials said that 2,848 people had tested positive for the virus, the highest daily count since the pandemic began. The test positivity rate was 14.5 percent, according to government data, suggesting that many cases may be going undiagnosed.

Tokyo entered its fourth state of emergency this month as the city prepared to host the Olympics, which were delayed for a year because of the pandemic. Unlike some other countries, Japan has never entered a hard lockdown, instead relying on softer measures like mask-wearing and asking restaurants and bars to close early. But experts fear that those steps are becoming less effective as the more contagious Delta variant accounts for a larger proportion of new cases.

Japan’s vaccination program got off to a slow start, and three-quarters of the population has not been fully inoculated against Covid-19, according to New York Times data. At the same time, the public’s tolerance for even the soft limits placed on their daily lives has sharply diminished and life in Tokyo has, in many respects, returned to its prepandemic rhythms. That has raised concern among Japan’s medical community that stricter measures may be required to curb this and future outbreaks.

The Olympics has been a source of anxiety for many in the country, who feared that it could become a superspreader event. But so far there is little evidence that the surge in cases is linked to the Games. Olympic organizers have barred spectators from nearly all venues and instituted other measures, including frequent testing.

As of Tuesday, 160 people connected to the Games, including 21 athletes, had tested positive for the coronavirus, according to Olympic organizers and Times reporting. Although several athletes have had to withdraw from competition because of positive tests — including golfers Bryson DeChambeau of the United States and Jon Rahm of Spain — the Games have so far avoided a spike in infections that many had feared.



Athletes who have tested positive for the coronavirus

Scientists say that positive tests are expected with daily testing programs, even among the vaccinated. Little information on severity has been released, though public reports suggest that cases among athletes have generally been mild or asymptomatic. Some athletes who have tested positive have not been publicly identified.


July 23

Jelle Geens

Triathlon

Belgium

Simon Geschke

Road cycling

Germany

Frederico Morais

Surfing

Portugal

July 22

Taylor Crabb

Beach volleyball

United States

Reshmie Oogink

Taekwondo

Netherlands

Michal Schlegel

Road cycling

Czech Republic

Marketa Slukova

Beach volleyball

Czech Republic

July 21

Fernanda Aguirre

Taekwondo

Chile

Ilya Borodin

Russian Olympic Committee

Swimming

Russian Olympic Committee

Amber Hill

Shooting

Britain

Candy Jacobs

Skateboarding

Netherlands

Pavel Sirucek

Table tennis

Czech Republic

July 20

Sammy Solis

Baseball

Mexico

Sonja Vasic

Basketball

Serbia

Hector Velazquez

Baseball

Mexico

July 19

Kara Eaker

Gymnastics

United States

Ondrej Perusic

Beach volleyball

Czech Republic

Katie Lou Samuelson

Three-on-three basketball

United States

July 18

Coco Gauff

Tennis

United States

Kamohelo Mahlatsi

Soccer

South Africa

Thabiso Monyane

Soccer

South Africa

July 16

Dan Craven

Road cycling

Namibia

Alex de Minaur

Tennis

Australia

July 14

Dan Evans

Tennis

Britain

July 13

Johanna Konta

Tennis

Britain

July 3

Milos Vasic

Rowing

Serbia


After Fiji won the rugby sevens competition at the 2016 Rio Games, its first Olympic medal of any kind, it decided to feature the winning team on the seven-dollar note.
Credit…Juergen Hasenkopf/Alamy Stock

How does a small country in the South Pacific celebrate a first-ever Olympic gold medal?

It prints a seven-dollar bill, of course.

After Fiji, population 900,000, won the rugby sevens competition at the 2016 Rio Games, its first Olympic medal of any kind, it was decided that some celebratory currency would be in order.

Bruce Southwick, a Fijian photographer and cinematographer, was approached by the country’s reserve bank for permission to use some of his photos of the team on a new five-dollar bill. But given that the sport was rugby sevens, with seven players per team playing seven-minute halves, Southwick suggested, “Why don’t we make a seven-dollar note?”

The bank liked the idea, and two million seven-dollar notes were printed. The front features Southwick’s photo of the team captain, Osea Kolinisau, and the back is the full team after it won the gold.

Credit…Juergen Hasenkopf/Alamy Stock

The bills, each worth about $3.40, are legal tender and can be used to buy anything from Fiji kokoda, a ceviche that is the national dish, to a flowered bula shirt.

While they do occasionally turn up in change at supermarkets, many of the bills have been hoarded, and they are often considered good luck.

It is hard to overestimate rugby’s importance to Fiji. “Sevens is the only thing we are world beaters in, apart from beaches and relaxation,” said Southwick, who was a cinematographer on “Sevens from Heaven,” a documentary about the team.

“It’s something that has always gripped the nation. In Fiji, everybody from grandmas down to little babies are obsessed by the game.”

Fiji has advanced to the semifinals at the Tokyo Games.

And if they repeat as gold medalists? Maybe it will be time for a 14-dollar note.



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