Softball-2020 Games begin as Japan, Australia take the field
Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Softball - Women - Opening Round - Australia v Japan - Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium - Fukushima, Japan - July 21, 2021. Players during national anthems. (Photo: Reuters)
Japanese pitcher Yukiko Ueno began the pandemic-postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday (July 21) by firing a fastball off the plate to start a softball game against Australia amid a sea of empty blue and orange seats ringing the field.
Two more softball games as well as the first six women's soccer matches are scheduled for later Wednesday. The opening ceremony is Friday.
* England beat Pakistan by three wickets, and with two balls to spare, in a thrilling third T20 international at Old Trafford on Tuesday to win the series 2-1. The white-ball match was the last home T20 for Eoin Morgan's England side before the World Cup in the United Arab Emirates and Oman in October.
* Arsenal have cancelled their pre-season tour to the United States after a number of positive COVID-19 cases at the club, Sky Sports reported on Tuesday. Arsenal were set to travel to the US this week to participate in the Florida Cup alongside Everton, Serie A champions Inter Milan and Colombian side Millonarios.
* Greece on Tuesday unveiled a plan to tap European Union and private funds for a revamp of its biggest sports complex, the Olympic Athletic Centre of Athens (OAKA), which hosted the 2004 Olympic Games.
* Everton have signed Andros Townsend on a two-year deal after the winger's contract at fellow Premier League club Crystal Palace ended, the Merseyside outfit announced on Tuesday. A veteran of nearly 250 Premier League appearances with Tottenham Hotspur, Queens Park Rangers and Newcastle United, former England international Townsend spent five seasons with Palace and is Everton's first signing under Rafa Benitez.
* South Africa’s rugby sevens team, whose Olympic preparations have been hard hit by COVID-19, were able to train on Tuesday for the first time since arriving in Japan one week ago, SA Rugby said in a statement. The Springbok Sevens are among the gold medal favourites but were forced into isolation on arrival in Japan because a passenger on the same plane tested positive.
* This year's Junior Ryder Cup scheduled to be held in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin the week of the men's competition in the same US state, has been cancelled due to ongoing travel issues for the European squad, organisers said on Tuesday. The competition between teams of six boys and six girls from the US and Europe, all aged 18 years and under, will return in Italy in 2023, the PGA of America and Ryder Cup Europe said in a joint statement.
* Netherlands international Sherida Spitse has had to withdraw from the Olympic Games after suffering a knee injury during training on Monday in a major setback to Dutch hopes of gold in the women's football tournament. The 31-year-old midfielder, who has a record 188 caps for the national team, is an integral part of the Dutch side, who are European champions and were Women’s World Cup runners-up in 2019, and are among the medal favourites in Japan.
* Brentford have signed Nigeria international Frank Onyeka from Danish side Midtjylland on a five-year contract, the newly promoted Premier League club said on Monday. The 23-year-old midfielder is Brentford's first signing as a Premier League side and has spent his entire professional career at Midtjylland, where he made his senior debut in 2017.
* Liverpool midfielder Marko Grujic has sealed a permanent move to Porto after spending last season on loan at the Portuguese side, the Premier League club said on Tuesday. Financial details were not disclosed but British media reported the fee for the Serbia international was about 10.5 million pounds (US$14.32 million).
* Ukrainian Ihor Hlavan, who won a bronze medal in the 50km walk at the 2013 world championships, will miss the Tokyo Olympics after his doping ban was extended, the Ukrainian athletics federation said on Tuesday.
* Czech beach volleyball trainer Simon Nausch has tested positive for COVID-19, the Czech Olympic team said on Tuesday. Nausch is the third member of the Czech delegation to be confirmed with the virus. On Monday, beach volleyball player Ondrej Perusic recorded a positive test.
* Former Asian champions Jeonbuk Motors said they have signed the K League's Young Player of the Year Song Min-kyu from rivals Pohang Steelers. The 21-year-old will link up with his new club after completing his commitments with the Republic of Korea at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
* The International Olympic Committee has amended its 'Faster, Higher, Stronger' motto to include the word 'Together', its President Thomas Bach said on Tuesday, highlighting the need for solidarity during difficult times such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
* The sport of ski mountaineering has been included in the programme for the 2026 Winter Olympics in Italy's Milan and Cortina D'Ampezzo following approval by the International Olympic Committee on Tuesday. The sport, which combines ascents and descents of mountain trails on or while carrying skis, will have five events at the Olympics.