Gulf Today

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.

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