The Tokyo Olympics, postponed and played out behind closed doors because of the Covid pandemic, concluded with an upbeat ceremony in Japan’s capital yesterday.
The Games took place without spectators and athletes were barred from venturing outside the Olympic village.
Their staging has faced local opposition and around 30 protestors jostled with police at the National Stadium before the closing ceremony.
However, other locals have braved heat and warnings to watch events from afar.
Fans took in outdoor events, such as triathlon and BMX, from overpasses and other vantage points despite temperatures that reached 35C, the hottest ever recorded at an Olympics.
The Games’ official sign-off, featuring ska bands, football freestylers, breakdancers and BMX riders, created more made-for-TV memories, culminating in athletes thanking the people of Japan by making a heart gesture with their hands.
A scaled-down parade of flagbearers, missing 62 of the competing nations, started proceedings in Tokyo before an air display team painted the French tricolore across the sky in Paris, the host city for 2024.
Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto, who appeared at seven Games as a speed skater and then a track cyclist, told the athletes: “There are no words to describe what you have achieved.
“You have accepted what seemed unimaginable, understood what had to be done, and through hard work and perseverance overcome unbelievable challenges.”
She added: “This has made you true Olympians.”
Athletes had daily swabs to test for coronavirus and wore face masks when not eating, training or competing. After they had finished competing, they had 48 hours to leave the athletes’ village.
The Games were postponed a year from their original 2020 date and, as the global pandemic raged, Japanese support wavered, with unfavourable opinion polls in the months before and even the country’s Emperor Naruhito expressing concerns about their staging.
The banning of spectators from most venues denied the Japanese public a chance to watch a summer Games close up for the first time since Tokyo 1964 and the climax of an eight-year wait after winning the hosting rights in Buenos Aires in 2013.
As ever, the Games produced a shower of stars. American swimmer Caeleb Dressel won five golds in the pool. Jamaican Elaine Thompson-Herah won another three on the track. Gymnast Daiki Hashimoto won two for the home nation in gymnastics.
But, equally inevitably, there were moments that no-one could have expected.
Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi and Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim deciding to share high-jump gold rather than contest the title.
Norwegian Lotte Miller consoling Belgian rival Claire Michel after she came in last in the triathlon.
Infantino Reveals How Nigeria Can Host FIFA Competitions
FIFA President, Gianni Infantino last Thursday, in Abuja, revealed how Nigeria can be made a destination for top Grade A football matches and FIFA competitions.
Infantino gave the insight when the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare took him on a tour of the renovated main bowl of the MoshoodAbiola National Stadium.
The FIFA boss, who was visibly happy with the re-grassed pitch at the stadium, said well-maintained stadia with good pitches were key to hosting grade A matches.
He said FIFA was ready to work more closely with Nigeria to develop the game and host more grade A matches in the country.
“We (FIFA) have to make sure when a country, when a government with the President, the minister and private persons are investing in football, in stadia, we work with them to give something back.
“It’s obvious that stadiums like this (MoshoodAbiola stadium) and others in Nigeria deserve the best quality games.
“They deserve top national team games, top club games and it’s not just about Nigerian football or African football, it’s about global football.
“We are working together to see what kind of new opportunities, competitions we can bring for men and women to fill this stadium and make the heart of the stadium beat for the fantastic spectacle that all of the Nigerian love, which is football,” he said.
Earlier, the minister said the Federal Government will continue to invest in sports development and facilities.
Tidesports source reports that the FIFA President, in the company of the minister, had earlier visited President Muhammadu Buhari at the Statehouse, as part of his engagement.
Why NFF Must Offset Rohr’s Salaries, Bonuses – Aikhomogbe
Former Nigerian goal keeper, Andrew Aikhomogbe has called on the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) to resolve every outstanding salaries and bonuses owed to the Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr before the next World Cup qualifiers against Central Africa Republic (CAR).
Aikhomogbe made this known on the backdrop of the football body’s recent deal with Baba Ijebu.
Although the financial details of the deal was not disclosed, Aikhomogbe in an interview with Newsmen from his base in Cairo, Egypt, stated that the NFF should use this platform to offset Rohr’s salaries and bonuses.
“It’s a big delight to know that the Nigeria Football Federation have signed a deal with Baba Ijebu and this will serve as an opportunity for them to use part of the money to pay Rohr’s salaries and bonuses.
“There is no better time to motivate him than now before Nigeria’s next 2022 World Cup qualifiers against the Central Africa Republic (CAR) on October,” he said.
Enyimba Players Vow To Support Finidi
Enyimba FC Goalkeeper, John Noble has stated that the players of the People’s Elephants will be key to the success of the newly appointed coach of the team, Finidi George.
Finidi, signed a two-year deal with Enyimba and oversaw his first full training session with the team on Thursday after a cameo appearance on Wednesday.
Speaking in a chat with Tidesports source, Noble gave his assessment of the coach in his first session under the manager and believes the former Super Eagles winger has what it takes to lead the team to the next level.
He added that the Enyimba players will be the ones to hand Finidi George his success at the club.
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