Japan women win Olympics opener; ticket buyers’ passwords stolen
TOKYO: The Japanese women’s sotball team got the Tokyo 2020 Olympics off to a winning start for the hosts on Wednesday, kicking off a pandemic-postponed Games that the World Health Organization says can be “a celebration of hope” even as COVID-19 cases surge.
Olympics and Japanese officials have forged ahead with the sports spectacle despite opposition in the country to hosting huge numbers of athletes, staff and media — more than 11,000 in the athletes’ village alone — dozens of whom have already tested positive for COVID-19.
On the other hand, the passwords and usernames of Olympics and Paralympics’ ticketbuyers and volunteers have been stolen and shared on the internet, Kyodo News reported on Wednesday, citing government officials.
Games organisers are investigating the mater, it added.
WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the Games should go ahead to demonstrate to the world what can be achieved with the right plan and measures.
“May the rays of hope from this land illuminate a new dawn for a healthy, safer and fairer world,” he said, holding alot an Olympic Games torch as he addressed International Olympic Commitee members in the Japanese capital. “It is my sincere hope the Tokyo Games succeed.”
Spectators have been barred and restrictions have been imposed in and around Tokyo, where COVID-19 infections have jumped and are projected to spike further, in an effort to minimise health risks among residents and visitors.
Japanese people, only a third of whom have had at least one dose of the vaccine, have been concerned the Olympics could become a super-spreader event.
In a recent poll in the Asahi newspaper, 68% of respondents expressed doubt about the ability of Olympic organisers to control coronavirus infections, with 55% saying they opposed the Games going ahead.
The Games’ official opening ceremony on Friday is expected to be a scaled-down, sobering performance, according to Marco Balich, a senior adviser to the Tokyo ceremonies executive producer.
As with the opening ceremony, the women’s sotball match between gold-medal contender Japan and Australia was held without spectators, amid buzzing cicadas and polite applause from a few hundred staff at a stadium in Fukushima, which was devastated by the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster.
Players standing along the benches under the scorching sun - 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) by midgame - shouted at the hiters all morning, giving the game a Litle League feel.