Tokyo Olympics: China wins three gold medals as GB women beat Japan in football

Eleven gold medals are available to be won on the first day of the delayed games

China's Yang Qian won the first gold medal of the Tokyo Olympics in the women's 10-metre rifle competition on Saturday as the delayed games launched in a stadium with no fans.

Qian set an Olympic record of 251.8 to triumph over Russia's Anastasiia Galashina and Switzerland's Nina Christen, who took home silver and bronze respectively.

On a day with 11 gold medals up for grabs, Ecuador's Richard Carapaz triumphed in the men's cycling road race, with Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar taking bronze.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi led tributes to his country's silver medal winner Chanu Saikhom Mirabai, who came second to China's Hou Zhihui in the 49kg weightlifting.

China picked up their third medal in fencing, with Sun Yiwen defeating Romania's Ana Maria Popescu in the final.

In the football, Team GB women beat hosts Japan 1-0 in a group stage match, with Ellen White scoring the only goal of the game.

The games were declared open in an eerily empty stadium on Friday after defying a year-long pandemic delay and lingering coronavirus threats that will make them perhaps the most unusual Games in history.

Japan's Emperor Naruhito made the announcement against the backdrop of thousands of vacant seats at Tokyo's 68,000-capacity Olympic Stadium, after Covid-19 forced organisers to ban spectators at all but a handful of venues.

"I declare open the Games of Tokyo," said the monarch, wearing a white surgical mask.

The stripped-down ceremony, simplified to reduce risks from coronavirus, unfolded in front of fewer than 1,000 VIPs and several thousand athletes.

In one visual highlight, nearly 2,000 synchronised drones formed a revolving globe over the stadium, to a cover version of John Lennon's "Imagine".

A reduced parade of about 5,700 athletes, far lower than the usual numbers, filed into the stadium, not all of them socially distanced but all wearing masks.

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach acknowledged the Games would be "very different from what all of us had imagined."

But "today is a moment of hope", he said in an address.

The 16-day Games, with 339 gold medals across 33 sports, have a surreal air after the pandemic compelled organisers to make this the first Games with virtually no spectators.

Athletes are tested daily but they are performing on the biggest stage under the constant risk that a positive test could wreck their Olympic dreams.

Updated: July 24th 2021, 12:51 PM
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