Current time in Tokyo: July 30, 9:59 a.m.
TOKYO — It never quite feels like the Olympics until track and field starts. The meet begins Friday morning in Tokyo with preliminary heats in the women’s 100 meters, and continues all day until a lone final, the men’s 10,000, in the evening.
After a loss, a win and a draw, the U.S. women’s soccer team faces a do-or-die quarterfinal against an impressive Netherlands team that outscored its opponents by 21-8 in the preliminary round. Expect goals in this one, too. It’s at 8 p.m. Tokyo time, 7 a.m. Eastern.
The marquee events of any rowing regatta are the eights, and the men’s and women’s races will be contested on Friday morning (Thursday evening in the United States). On the women’s side, the U.S. team will be going for a fourth straight Olympic gold, but they may be underdogs to New Zealand.
Four more swimming finals begin at 10:41 a.m. in Tokyo, 9:41 p.m. Eastern on Thursday. Michael Andrew of the United States is a strong contender for gold in the 200-meter individual medley. Lilly King of the United States will be swimming for a gold medal in the 200 women’s breaststroke. She won an individual gold and a relay gold at the 2016 Games.
And it’s time to bounce. The women’s trampoline competition gets underway.
TOKYO — Athletes in track and field spent the first half of the year taking aim at — and shattering — a smorgasbord of world records. No one should be surprised to see more of those records fall in the coming days, when runners and jumpers take center stage at the Games. Despite the absence of fans, the Olympic Stadium has not been short on drama.
In these uncertain times, reaching the starting line could be considered an achievement. But many of the athletes have come to Tokyo with ambitious goals.
There are 10 consecutive days of track and field, beginning on Friday in Tokyo (Thursday evening in the U.S.) with the first rounds of the men’s 400-meter hurdles, the women’s 800 and 100 meters and more before concluding with the men’s 10,000-meter final. The competition runs through Aug. 8, when the men’s marathon will punctuate the festivities in Sapporo, about 500 miles north of Tokyo, where organizers expect cooler weather.
Allyson Felix, 35, the grande dame of U.S. track and field and a six-time gold medalist, is set to compete next week in the 400 meters in her fifth and final Olympics.
In the women’s 100 meters, Sha’Carri Richardson, the American star whose positive marijuana test cost her a spot in the Tokyo Olympics, would have been a favorite. But though Richardson will be absent, the event remains a draw with sprinters like Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica, 34, who is already a two-time Olympic champion in the event.
Here’s our complete guide to track and field at the Games, including a breakdown of the rules of competition, a list of the sport’s star Olympians, and the more intriguing events to watch for.
Here are some highlights of U.S. broadcast coverage on Thursday evening and overnight. All times are Eastern.
GYMNASTICS Sunisa Lee, an 18-year-old Hmong American who is known primarily as an uneven bars specialist, chases gold in the women’s all-around final, airing at 8 p.m. on NBC Primetime.
BEACH VOLLEYBALL April Ross and Alix Klineman, an American power duo in beach volleyball, take on the Netherlands at 8 p.m. on CNBC.
ROWING The men’s and women’s eights will compete for gold at 9 p.m. on CNBC.
RUGBY Ilona Maher, who has been creating TikTok videos that take followers inside the Olympic Village, and the U.S. sevens team will play Australia at 9:30 p.m. on CNBC.
SWIMMING Caeleb Dressel kicks off the night at 9:30 p.m. on NBC Primetime in a semifinal of the 100-meter butterfly, in which he holds both the world and Olympic records. But there are also medals on the line, with Lilly King and Annie Lazor from Team U.S.A. competing in the 200-meter breaststroke final at 9:40 p.m. on NBC, followed by finals in the men’s 200-meter backstroke, the women’s 100-meter freestyle and the men’s 200-meter individual medley.
BMX RACING CNBC will cover the men’s and women’s finals at Ariake Urban Sports Park starting at 10:40 p.m.
TENNIS Coverage of the semifinals in men’s singles and mixed doubles, and the gold medal match for men’s doubles begins at 11 p.m. on the Olympic Channel.
BASKETBALL Sue Bird, Tina Charles and Diana Taurasi take on Japan at 12:40 a.m. on USA Network.
TOKYO — For years, Sunisa Lee, a teenager from Minnesota who became the Olympic all-around gymnastics champion on Thursday night, wasn’t training just for herself.
Lee, a Hmong American, went to the gym every day for all the first-generation Americans who wanted to achieve success when their parents had come to the United States with nothing. And she trained through grueling practices and painful injuries for her father, John, who sustained a spinal cord injury in 2019 and now uses a wheelchair.
Lee, 18, came into the Olympics wanting to win a gold medal for her father, who is her biggest fan, and for all the Hmong Americans who she feels are unseen in the United States. But she had publicly stated that her goal was to win silver in the all-around because her teammate Simone Biles, the four-time Olympic medalist, had been considered a lock to win that title.
But after a lifetime of chasing Biles in the all-around because Biles hasn’t lost that marquee event since 2013, Lee took advantage of her shot to do so in Tokyo. Biles, considered the best gymnast of all time, withdrew from the team event and the all-around because of mental stress, leaving Lee in position to win it all.
“I didn’t even think I’d ever get here,” Lee said. “It doesn’t even feel like I’m in real life.”
On Thursday, Lee hit routine after routine, often as if she were at practice, not at the most important competition of her life. She even nailed the floor exercise in her last rotation of the night, with new choreography and elements that had been changed by her coach, Jess Graba, that morning.
The change worked. Lee had her best floor exercise score of these Olympics.
Rebeca Andrade of Brazil won silver and Angelina Melnikova of Russia won the bronze.
As Sunisa Lee won gold in the women’s all-around gymnastics final on Thursday, cheers erupted halfway around the world, where her family and friends — including her father in a Team Suni shirt — were celebrating her victory at a watch party in the St. Paul suburb of Oakdale, Minn.
In March, Olympic organizers announced that overseas spectators would be barred from the Games. Then just weeks before the Games were set to open, organizers announced that even domestic spectators would be prohibited from attending most of the events.
That left athletes to compete in extraordinarily daunting and unusual circumstances: at largely empty venues, devoid of raucous fans and family members, the familiar faces who know more intimately than most all that it took to arrive at that moment.
“These are the people I do it all for,” Lee tweeted after the competition, sharing a video of her family’s watch party. “I LOVE YOU ALL!” Gov. Tim Walz of Minnesota was among the Olympics fans watching Lee’s win. On Thursday, he issued a state proclamation designating Friday, July 30 as Sunisa Lee Day.
Athletes’ closest supporters have gotten creative and found ways to celebrate, holding watch parties that commence at dawn or go late into the night to follow events live.
And at least one athlete didn’t have to wait long to share her excitement. The U.S. swimmer Brooke Forde’s father, Pat Forde, is a writer at Sports Illustrated and is covering his ninth Olympics.
Simone Biles wasn’t entered, but someone still had to win the women’s gymnastics all-around. And it was Sunisa Lee.
The U.S. picked up two freestyle golds in swimming: Caeleb Dressel won the 100 meters and Bobby Finke won the 800. China surprised the field in the women’s 4×200 relay.
The U.S. women’s rugby sevens team began play with two wins: 28-14 over China and 17-7 over Japan to clinch advancement.
Sam Kendricks, the American pole vault world champion, is out of the Games after testing positive for Covid.
What a small and simple word.
What transformative power it possesses.
Simone Biles used it to ultimate effect at the Tokyo Olympics this week.
“Today it’s like, you know what, no,” she said, explaining to reporters her decision to withdraw from the team gymnastics competition to protect her mental and physical health.
It was a “no” that shook the Olympics and put the sports world on notice. It also showed that athlete empowerment, a hallmark for this era in sports, continues to develop and grow. Athletes are more than ready to stand up now, not only for social justice but also for themselves.
Biles is the greatest, most decorated gymnast of all time. She won four gold medals in Rio five years ago and was expected to take home at least three more in Tokyo. But by saying “no,” bowing out this week, and standing up for her well-being in a sports world that commodifies athletes and prizes winning at all costs, she surpasses all of those achievements in importance.
Biles has thrown a wrench in the system. What that “no” says is really this: Enough is enough.
This was an act of individual resistance, putting up a firm wall between herself and the glaring burden of competition.
The sports director for Germany’s cycling program has been stripped of his duties and sent home one day after he repeatedly shouted a racial slur during a televised time trial at the Olympics, the country’s Olympic sports federation said on Thursday.
Watching from the sidelines as a German cyclist trailed two competitors from Algeria and Eritrea in a men’s time trial on Wednesday, the director, Patrick Moster, could be heard on camera yelling, “Get the camel drivers,” according to an English translation by the news website Deutsche Welle.
The episode came one day after a Greek broadcaster had cut ties with a commentator for a racist comment about South Korean table tennis athletes, further undermining the themes of inclusion and good will that are an emphasis for organizers of the Games.
Mr. Moster apologized for his derogatory reference to the two cyclists from African countries, which have large Muslim populations. They were Azzedine Lagab of Algeria and Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier of Eritrea.
“In the heat of the moment and with the overall burden that we have here at the moment, my choice of words was not appropriate,” he told D.P.A., a German news agency. “I am so sorry, I can only sincerely apologize. I didn’t want to discredit anyone. We have many friends with North African roots. As I said, I’m sorry.”
Mr. Moster’s exhortation drew widespread condemnation in Germany, from figures including Alfons Hörmann, the president of the country’s Olympic sports federation.
Mr. Hörmann said that the federation had accepted Mr. Moster’s apology as sincere but that his comments had breached Olympic values. He said that “fair play, respect and tolerance” were “nonnegotiable.”
The Union Cycliste Internationale, the world cycling association, announced on Thursday that its disciplinary commission had decided to provisionally suspend Mr. Moster, saying that his remarks had been contrary to basic rules of decency.
At the start of the games, a South Korean broadcaster apologized for airing “inappropriate” photos next to countries in the opening ceremony. The images drew criticism from viewers, who said they were offensive or had perpetuated stereotypes.