Barbadian Olympic bronze medallist, Obadele Thompson, has revealed that he was overcome with a sense of relief after crossing the line third at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

The historic bronze medal was the first for the sprinter and first for Barbados as an independent nation, but the sprinter had battled through his fair share of disappointment prior to securing the breakthrough.

Before that, Thompson had finished outside of the medals at the previous four major games (3 World Championships and 1 Olympics) and even before that fourth at the World Junior Championships in 1994.

Finally, though, his hard work did off in Sydney.

“Crossing third was a huge relief.  I had placed fourth at so many other championships.  I came fourth at the World Youth Championships, fourth in 1996, in the 200, when Michael Johnson set his amazing world record.  I came fourth the year before, in 1999, in the 100m and 200m,” Thompson told SportsMax.Tv’s InCaseYouMissedIT.

“To be able to cross the line and finally know I was going to be on the podium was a big deal, and to know that Barbados, never seen our flag raised at a global championship of that magnitude before was an amazing feeling,” he added. (Watch full interview below)

Still, the former athlete, as tends to be the case, admits that he also felt some amount of disappointment as the results of the race could have been even better.

“It was also disappointing, I knew I was in better shape, coming to the Olympic Games with an injury that I sustained about six weeks before and I had to come off the European circuit after running really well in the 100m.  The only person that was beating me was Maurice Green,” Thompson said.

“Having to leave the circuit, dealing with the injury, and not knowing if I would be able to compete, it was also a blessing to have made it down that track.”

 

 

 In just two days, team Jamaica has received news of two unexpected injury blows to start the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

2018 Commonwealth Games steeplechase champion, Aisha Praught Leer, has revealed via social media that she injured her left knee in training on Sunday, which later turned out to be a torn meniscus.

The athlete will, however, still attempt to compete at the Games after taking an injection to the joint.

"I will line up in Tokyo.  When I arrive I will get fluid drained from my knee and take a cortisone injection (this is legal, and my surgeon understands and supports me in this)

The unfortunate injury occurred during what she described as one of the ‘best workouts’ of her life.  The athlete explained that she felt excruciating pain as if something had torn.

“I tore my meniscus (a complete, off the bone root tear) on Sunday at training—a freak, shocking accident. I heard and felt a painful pop doing a drill but then proceeded to do one of the best workouts of my life. On Wednesday I got an MRI, then sat in quiet disbelief with Joe Bosshard as the doctor told us I need surgery ASAP.”

The always-smiling athlete is scheduled to compete in the 1500m that is set to get underway on Sunday, at 7:35 pm.  Naturally, she is heartbroken because she will not be able to compete at her maximum ability.

“I want to keep believing in the possibility of achieving the wild dreams I store deep in my heart. The reality is they will not happen in Tokyo—running to my ability is simply not possible on a knee without stability. This is the most challenging reality I have faced in my career,” Praught Leer said.

“We did nothing wrong. As I said, this was a freak accident. But now all of my silent work, the beautiful, hard-earned fitness, does not have a chance to see the light of day. The triumph I have visualized so vividly is—poof—gone in one step,” Leer lamented.

Although she understands that unexpected injuries are a part of sports, it is still a tough reality for her to accept.

“I understand this is sport—just sport. I know the truth that I am more than an athlete. But this sport means everything to me. This is my life’s work, my purpose, and my first true love. I am heartbroken.”

The athlete, who created history, being the first Jamaican to win gold in the steeplechase event at the Commonwealth Games, insists she will be proud to represent the country despite not being in top shape. 

“You will see me smiling in Tokyo with Jamaica on my chest because the honour of representing my country is one of the greatest I’ve had in my little life.”

On Thursday, news broke that gymnast Danusia Francis had suffered an injury to her left knee, which later turned out to be a torn ACL.  Francis will not be able to compete in her events.  She will, however, symbolically take part in the Uneven Bars event but will not attempt a dismount.

 

 

 

Jamaica sprinter Yohan Blake will have his hands full at the Tokyo Olympics not just taking part in two events on the track but also serving as a panelist for India Broadcasters Sony Sport.

The 31-year-old, who will be competing in his third Olympics, will participate in the 100m and 200m sprints.  Blake was once thought to be the heir apparent to illustrious compatriot Usain Bolt and holds the seconnd fastest times ever recorded over both events.

Following hamstring injuries in 2013 and 2014, however, he has failed to replicate that kind of form in recent years.  In fact, in Tokyo, he will be looking to make it on the podium at major games for the first time in nine years.  Whether he gets among the medals or not, however, the sprinter could already be considering what’s next.

“I am very excited to associate with Sony Sports as an expert panelist on their live wrap-around studio show, SPORTS EXTRAAA, and take fans closer to the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020.  Not only will the viewers in India watch me proudly represent my country at the Games but they will also watch me provide insights on the performance of the world's finest on the grand stage,” Blake told South Asian news agency ANI.

The programs will be broadcast all across India.

 

The quarantine experience has become routine for those travelling the world to play or watch sport during the coronavirus crisis.

It has been that way in Japan for the Tokyo Olympics. Depending on which country you arrive from, there may be a period of isolation to tolerate before being allowed to participate in the Games.

This has been the case for Stats Perform's journalist on the ground, Peter Hanson, who is approaching the end of a three-day quarantine at his hotel in order to comply with the rules for UK residents working in a media capacity in the Japanese capital.

Here, he provides five tips on how to survive quarantine…

Tip 1: Binge on Netflix

Admittedly this isn't a particularly novel idea but when you're pretty much confined to a hotel room for three days what better way to pass the time than with some easy watching?

It doesn't have to be Netflix…there are plenty of other streaming services available of course. But, right now I'm powering through the US version of The Office (even if that makes me feel a little traitorous towards the original UK edition, which – sorry folks – remains the significantly better show).

Tip 2: Reading

It's good to come prepared. Having undertaken a 12-and-a-half-hour flight to get to Tokyo before the three days of isolation even began, having a good book (or even a bad one really) just made good sense.

I'm a big fan of Harlan Coben's work, so with me in Tokyo is his thriller 'The Boy in the Woods', and also a book about the world's greatest football team…Sheffield Wednesday, penned by Sheffield Star journalist Alex Miller.

Tip 3: Bring out the bangers…

Admittedly this tip comes on the back of a bit of a head loss…but when in the moment, you have to fully embrace it folks!

Crack on with your Spotify, your Apple Music, or wherever you get your tunes from and let the music take control! Friday's morning get-up song for me belonged to Ronan Keating because, well, life is a rollercoaster right now…

Tip 4: Sick tricks!

This one is inspired by one of my best friends back home, who will often yell "sick tricks!" before doing something pretty juvenile or a very basic skill with the confidence and gusto of a trapeze artist… and it gets a laugh from me pretty much every time.

Luckily, just before I left my house in Sheffield I spotted a tennis ball to take with me and – recalling the feats of skills posted by several ATP and WTA stars online during their own Australian Open quarantines – decided to have a go at some of my own tennis-ball tricks…it did not go particularly well.

Tip 5: Work, work, work...

No, not the Rihanna song... although playing that on repeat would absolutely be a great way to spend your time in quarantine.

What I'm alluding to is the fact that at some point during a three-day quarantine, some work will have to be done.

Only, in this case I got distracted by my Football Manager save and decided that was also a pretty decent way to kill some time…

Dina Asher-Smith says her "heart does go out" to banned sprint rival Sha'Carri Richardson but is convinced there will be several battles to be had in the coming years.

Richardson, 21, was primed to be one of the favourites for gold at Tokyo 2020 after winning the 100 metres at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon, with a time of 10.86 seconds.

However, it was revealed Richardson had tested positive for cannabis following that event last month and a consequent one-month ban – starting on June 28 – meant she was ineligible to register for the Olympics, which start on Friday.

Richardson told NBC that her biological mother had died prior to the trials, where she was pictured sharing a warm embrace with her grandmother, who helped raise her.

Asher-Smith, going for gold in the 100 and 200m for Great Britain, has sympathy for the circumstances that led to Richardson's exclusion from the Games.

Speaking to a round-table of journalists at a pre-Games TeamGB call, she said: "I feel sorry for her, her mother passed away, you know? 

"I was kind of thinking about that. Lots of you know my mum, personally I even said to my mum 'if you passed away I wouldn't have done the trials' I have to admit. 

"That's not a criticism, it's just emotionally that's a lot. My mum said 'don't be silly I'd always want you to do it' – it's definitely not a criticism but that's kind of just [how I would be] dealing with that situation. 

"Lots of stuff happened but I'm in absolutely no position to tell someone how to grieve, no one is, that's the first thing that comes to mind she was grieving. 

"If that was my mum…obviously rules are rules but the girl was grieving so your heart does out to her in that whole situation because no one ever wants to lose a parent, so yeah it's awful."

 

Richardson is the second fastest woman over 100m in the world this season having posted a 10.72s in April. Only Jamaican veteran Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has gone quicker, with a best of 10.63s.

Asher-Smith, the reigning world champion over 200m, has yet to lose a race in 2021 and she is sure there will be plenty of time to face off with Richardson down the line.

"We've both hopefully got very long careers you know?" she said. 

"It's not just about one person as well, you've got so many talented women that can run incredibly fast, it's one of those things I'm like don't worry about it there's so many more chances."

Asher-Smith is regarded as one of Britain's best medal hopes on the track in Tokyo and was described by World Athletics president and two-time Olympic champion Seb Coe as the "poster child" for Tokyo.

While grateful for such compliments, the steely focused 25-year-old is shutting out the external noise as she bids for glory in the Japanese capital.

"I didn't know he'd said that, it's very kind," she said.

"To me, I don't think about those things to be honest. I don't think about things around me, what people are talking about, what the headlines are I just don't think about that.

"I've always been like that because at the end of the day it's me and the track, me and the club, and all this stuff that's going around is literally just noise. 

"The only thing that can affect my performance is the mental state I'm in and physical state I'm in. 

"I try and make sure that is as strong and as good as possible. So, when people talk about all this stuff, postergirl or whatever, cool, I don't know to be honest, I don't pay attention to the noise, the chatter, what the opinions are."

 

An extremely relaxed Asher-Smith says she has no fear ahead of the Games as she has been preparing her entire career for these moments.

She added: "What's scary about it? I get this question all the time, when I was checking into Heathrow all the BA [British Airways] people were like are you nervous? And I was like 'No what is there to be nervous about?'

"Obviously, this is a very different scale, but I line up and race and I've done that since I was eight years old and I'm very good at it. Obviously, the stakes change, the mechanics change, the precision of it changes but fundamentally this is something I do week in, week out. 

"I love a show, I love a stage, and putting together a performance when it really matters when the lights are on. 

"I love championships, my coach always tell me to quell my excitement through the season until championships and then let it loose. He told me yesterday I can get excited so you can see more energy from me now."

Team GB sprint star Dina Asher-Smith hailed Marcus Rashford and his England team-mates for "showing a really good sense of moral leadership for our nation".

Manchester United striker Rashford earned plaudits for his work lobbying the government to provide free school meals during the height of the coronavirus pandemic last year, while he and the rest of the Three Lions squad who reached the final of Euro 2020 this month were also vocal in the fight against racism, continuing to take a knee throughout the tournament in a united showing against racial prejudice.

Asher-Smith, who will be going for gold in the 100 and 200 metres at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, has herself spoken out about her experiences of racism and in March she received the column of the year award by the International Sport Press Association for an article she wrote in the aftermath of George Floyd's murder.

She has also been a vocal supporter of the protests taken by Naomi Osaka and Lewis Hamilton in the past and the 25-year-old, a die-hard Red Devils supporter, hopes to do more in the area of social activism once the Olympics have finished.

"I think what Marcus and all the other players have been doing is fantastic and it made me so proud to watch them and see how they conducted themselves," Asher-Smith told a roundtable of journalists at a pre-Games Team GB call.

"I think they've done fantastically throughout the Euros. I think they surpassed all our expectations in the nicest way.

"They are actually a credit to our nation and showing a really good sense of moral leadership for our nation and I think as sports people we are really proud and definitely as a Brit, and a black Brit, especially throughout the Euros I was really proud of them. I think they represented both the nation and our community incredibly well.

"Social activism is something I'd love to increase, but with the Olympics and everything I've been one-track minded towards Tokyo. But definitely once we're past this point, because I definitely compartmentalise things, when I'm over this little compartment of my life that's definitely something I want to increase because you do have to give back.

"I think it's an essential part of being not only an athlete but someone who has had an opportunity and the only reason I'm here today is because of the good will and hard work of so many other people in teams and throughout my community and so many opportunities I've had, whether that's grants or school teachers taking extra time to take me to a club or telling me about a club.

"It's goodwill of other people so it would be entirely selfish to not give back when you have the opportunity to in your career and I'm really proud of how the footballers have done that throughout the year and how they conducted themselves throughout the Euros." 

 

Athletes competing in Tokyo are set to have more scope to protest at the upcoming Olympics after the IOC relaxed its controversial Rule 50, which previously forbade any "demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas".

The IOC will allow athletes to make protests prior to competitions starting, though anyone doing so on podiums or medal ceremonies – similar to the famous Black Power salute made by Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics – could face sanctions.

Asher-Smith always expected a climb down, adding: "I think to see the IOC lifted the ban, I was entirely unsurprised. 

"Protesting I see as a fundamental human right, so if you were to penalise someone for standing up against racial inequality how on earth would that go? You know what I mean? How on earth would you enforce that? 

"Would you revoke somebody's medal for saying racism is wrong? I honestly thought that was always going to happen otherwise they would have just been faced with loads of athlete protests at the Games and it would have been really embarrassing, you can't really tell people not to.

"Unless they want to say they're against people saying they're against racism I didn't know how that was going to go.

"Some of the Olympics' most iconic moments have been the Black Power salute by Tommie Smith way back when, and that is something people remember the Olympics for, that's something they're very proud to see at the Olympic Games."

Asher-Smith, the reigning 200m world champion, also hopes she can play her part in inspiring young women to take part in sports over the course of the next two weeks.

"I think the next fortnight has great potential to inspire an entire generation of young women as we do with every Olympics," she said.

"But I think it's becoming increasingly important nowadays. We have significant drop-off rates of young women.

"They hit teenage years, they're all very active in the sporting field or active world, then they hit between 11 and 15 and drop out in their droves.

"Then it's under 10 per cent get enough exercise or get the government recommended guidelines of exercise and engage on aesthetic grounds rather than having fun. 

"I hope the next fortnight shows not only can you make a viable career out of this. Being a sportswoman in whatever you want to do is a viable career it's not just track and field, it's not just tennis, it's not just football there are many avenues you can go down to be a career sportswoman. 

"But also that it's fun, that it can completely change your life, develop lifelong friendships, it's not just about doing sport for a physical goal to lose weight, to gain this, to alter your body but also for self-esteem, your mind, your mental health and to live a fulfilled and enriched life. 

"I think the Olympic Games has an incredible chance to inspire so many women and also women who have had babies, and the Paralympics as well, women who have very different life circumstances to all of us, so I think it's a great platform and showcase for all the sports we love."

The journey towards Tokyo 2020 has been a long and uncertain one.

Postponed by 12 months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic that continues to wreak havoc across the globe, it was by no means certain the Olympics would happen at all.

But here we are, just a day away from the opening ceremony as the last of the athletes, officials and world's media descend on the Japanese capital for a Games like no other.

Here, Stats Perform's reporter on the ground, Peter Hanson, documents his journey from Sheffield to Tokyo in a behind-the-curtain look at what it has taken to be part of the Olympics.

ONLINE SYSTEMS AND IMPORTANT ORGANISED FUN

For me and thousands of others, the trip to Tokyo technically started months in advance. To put it lightly, the organisers absolutely love an online system. 

There's a system for accommodation details, there's a system for arrivals and departures at the airport, there's a system for registering health information, there's a system for each media organisation to nominate a Covid Liaison Officer (CLO) – whose job it is to inform Tokyo 2020 of any positive COVID-19 tests within the team. Given I'm the only full-time Stats Perform member on the ground in Tokyo that responsibility fell to me and I am responsible for…well, me.

On top of that, there's an Activity Plan to fill out, send back and ultimately get approval for by the Japanese government. 

Admittedly, on the surface you may think this all sounds like a bit of "organised fun" but in truth it's an extremely important part of the process as it allows you to list all the venues you plan on visiting for the first 14 days of your stay in Tokyo. Getting this ratified is crucial because for those first two weeks you have to agree not to stray anywhere outside of those destinations or your hotel, while the use of public transport is not permitted.

A day before I travelled, I received a call from Tokyo 2020 to tell me my plan will be approved on the condition I agree to quarantine for three days at my hotel due to conditions on UK residents entering Japan amid a spike in coronavirus cases in Britain.

GO WITH THE (LATERAL) FLOW

With all of that (finally) taken care of, the path is fiddly yet relatively clear – but it's a path that involves testing, testing and testing again.

Indeed, against the wisdom of our parents who tell us from a very young age not to stick foreign objects in our orifices, I start the process of taking a lateral flow test every day a fortnight out from my flight to Tokyo.

As each day progresses, the results of these tests become more and more nervy as any positive case at that point would have almost certainly curtailed any hopes I had of covering the Games from Tokyo and ensured months of stress amounted to nought.

Then the really crucial tests come just days before departure. To enter Japan, a certificate of a negative test must be produced – one within 96 hours of take-off and one within 72.  

Helpfully, the British Olympics Association helped facilitate these tests via Randox, a private testing company, and both certificates arrived with ample time before my flight.

THE DAY OF…

So, with activity plans in place and tests conducted the real "fun" could begin…

My own personal journey on the day began with a 6am wake-up alarm in order to take one last lateral flow test, prior to a 10am train from Sheffield to London St Pancras. From there, it's another hour on the Piccadilly line getting from central London to Heathrow Airport.

At this stage it's time to let you into a little personal secret. I am one of "those" people. The kind of people who like to arrive around six weeks early at the airport to make sure I'm on time for my flight…

I was at the airport six hours before my flight, which meant I had two hours to kill before I could even check in my case and, understandably, a contingent from TeamGB has first dibs on processing their luggage to delay things a little longer.

The check-in process at this stage was relatively normal, bar having to show proof of the negative COVID certificate, and the journey through security was also straightforward.

By the time I was at the other side, there was still around three hours until departure leaving ample time for that age-old British tradition…a beer and burger at Wetherspoons.

APP WOE AND LENGHTY WAITS AT HANEDA

By now (partly due to my own being late to the airport anxiety) the journey to Tokyo had already lasted around nine hours…now there was just the little matter of a 12-and-a-half-hour flight to Haneda Airport to get through.

The flight itself was nothing out of the ordinary, save for a few bumpy moments of turbulence. It was your standard fill out the customs forms, eat the flight food (I'm one of those strange folk who actually quite enjoys the in-flight meals…) and watch the on-board entertainment. My choices were "Avengers: Endgame", "Joker" and couple of episodes of the Big Bang Theory…yes, I know, the last one is completely rubbish but I needed something to pass the time as any attempt at sleep was now futile!

So, the flight itself was pretty mundane but this was where the sleep-deprived hard work began.

As soon as everyone stepped off the plane, we were split into two lines. One for domestic arrivals, who sailed onto immigration with a breeze. The other, significantly longer, line was for media and other Games-related stakeholders.

This was the start of the more arduous part of the process. Remember earlier when I mentioned the love of systems? Well, one of them was to have downloaded and logged into a health app named OCHA designed specifically for the Games which I was supposed to have signed into using my accreditation details…the only problem for me is it wasn't working and hadn't been for weeks. Whenever I tried to log in, I was just get greeted by an error message and weeks of back-and-forth with the relevant helpline had not yielded success.

Now, having OCHA was supposed to be a prerequisite to get into the country but luckily there was a workaround whereby I could fill out an online health questionnaire and print off a written pledge. Sounds simple enough, but it turns out the issue of the app not working was not exactly rare…

At this stage, it's only fair to pay credit to the rushed staff at Haneda, going round taking accreditation numbers, liaising with Games officials and eventually helping the hordes of media and officials progress to the next part of the process after over a groggy two-hour wait.

VALIDATION AND LAMINATION

After that painstaking delay, the remainder of the airport process was lengthy but impressively smooth.

Firstly, there's the small case of another COVID test. I first of all registered and picked up the sample kits and proceeded to the next room, which looked a little like something out of a sci-fi movie and entered a private booth. The only difference here, at least for me was that, instead of using swabs like back in the UK, the method of choice is a saliva antigen test where you essentially spit into a tube until you have enough of a sample to be analysed. It's about as grim as it sounds.

Feeling slightly disgusting, my sample was dropped off and there was another lengthy walk through to the holding area where I waited for my test number to appear on a screen, almost like being at a deli counter in the supermarket.

After around an hour, I received a negative result and the finish line was almost in sight. But first, it was time to get my accreditation validated.

Again, the logistics of this process were pretty flawless – it takes a good five-to-10 minutes to reach the accreditation desk but the route is perfectly sign-posted and in no time at all I have my fancy laminated accreditation on a lanyard, which will be used to get into all venues for the Games.

At last, it was time to go through immigration, whereby I underwent the typical scrutiny you face when entering a country, and – much to my delight – despite a three-and-a-half-hour process, my luggage was still waiting on the carousel at the other side.

SHUTTLE BUSES AND FANCY TAXI DOORS

This is nothing against Haneda, or the awesome people organising this huge logistical task, but it was a real relief to be leaving the airport.

Feeling a little like a D-list Hollywood actor, when I arrived in the departures hall I was whisked off outside by more helpful staff towards a shuttle bus, which took me to a taxi pick-up point around 20 minutes away.

Here, each person was assigned to an individual vehicle. After several attempts to open the passenger door, a kind lady helpfully pointed out that they are automatic and will open when the driver enters the car…needless to say the sight of the door swinging open of its own accord blew my tiny South Yorkshire mind.

Another 20-minute journey followed until – at last – I arrived at my hotel, checked-in and settled down into my room…some 27 hours after leaving Sheffield.

Former 100m world record holder and Olympic champion Donovan Bailey believes Jamaica’s women could sweep the blue ribband event in Tokyo.

Heading into the women’s 100m, it is the Jamaican trio of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Elaine Thompson-Herah, and Shericka Jackson who have clocked the fastest times over the distance this year.

Out front, is reigning world champion and two-time winner of the event Fraser-Pryce, with her best time of 10.63, which was recorded last month.  The time was the second-fastest time ever recorded over the distance and fastest in 33 years.

Next up, reigning Olympic champion Thompson-Herah has a season-best of 10.71, a run that she recorded a few weeks ago.  American sprinter Sha’carri Richardson is next on the world's top list with her time of 10.72, which was recorded in April.  Richardson will, however, miss out on the Games after testing positive for marijuana last month.

Jackson, formerly a 400m specialist, had a breakout performance in the sprints last month where she recorded a personal best of 10.77, at the country’s national trials where she was second behind Fraser-Pryce.  The fourth-fastest this year, by an athlete, and certainly puts the 27-year-old firmly in the conversation.

“The women’s 100m will be won by Shelly-Ann Fraser, that's my personal favourite.  I really think Jamaica has the opportunity to sweep.  I think Shericka Jackson has something up her sleeve,” Bailey said during the SportsMax.Tv special series Great Ones.

“We know Elaine will be there, but I think Shelly-Ann is going to get up and keep Elaine out, but I think Shericka Jackson has something for somebody,” he added.

In addition to their fast times this season, all three Jamaicans have the experience of standing on the medal podium.  Fraser-Pryce won the event at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, while Thompson-Herah won the 2016 edition.  It will be Jackson’s first time competing at the event, but she claimed a bronze medal in the 400m at the 2016 Rio Games.

“I was looking forward to this race because I really wanted to see Sha’Carri Richardson under the spotlight with the greatest sprinters of this generation.  I was looking forward to that,” Bailey said.

“The men’s final is open but the women’s final for me is a little more straightforward.  When the lights shine bright, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce will not back down.”

Brisbane has been formally confirmed as the host of the 2032 Olympic Games.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had already made the Australian city in the state of Queensland its preferred candidate and no other hosts were considered.

Brisbane is the first bid to win the right to host the Olympics uncontested since the 1984 Games staged in Los Angeles.

The bid proposed 32 venues, with The Gabba stadium, a prominent international cricket venue, set to be refurbished as part of the proposals.

The Gabba is in line to host the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as the leading athletics events.

India, Indonesia, Qatar, Germany and Spain had all been interested in hosting the Games but did not advance to IOC board approval, with Brisbane fast-tracked.

Australia has twice staged the Olympics previously, in Melbourne (1956) and Sydney (2000).

Following the delayed 2020 Games in Tokyo, which started on Wednesday, the Olympics will go to Paris in 2024 and LA in 2028 before Brisbane four years later.

Tokyo Olympics organising committee chief Toshiro Muto has not ruled out cancelling the Games at the last minute should there be a surge in coronavirus cases.

Officials announced a further nine positive cases among those linked to the Games on Tuesday, taking the overall number of people infected since the start of July to 71.

That total includes South Africa's men's footballers Thabiso Monyane and Kamohelo Mahlatsi testing positive while inside the athletes' village over the weekend.

A number of other athletes have been forced to isolate after coming into close contact with an individual that has contracted the disease.

With just three days to go until the global sporting event's opening ceremony, and with the first events starting as soon as Wednesday, director general Muto will continue monitoring infection levels in the hope they do not spiral out of control.

"We can't predict what will happen with the number of coronavirus cases. So we will continue discussions if there is a spike in cases," he said at a news conference.

"We have agreed that based on the coronavirus situation, we will convene five-party talks again.

"At this point, the coronavirus cases may rise or fall, so we will think about what we should do when the situation arises."

Around 11,000 athletes from 205 national Olympic committees are expected to stay at the Olympic Village over the next three weeks.

The 2020 Games, delayed by a year due to the global health pandemic, will be held mostly without spectators due to a state of emergency being declared in Tokyo.

The number of new coronavirus cases in the Japanese capital topped 1,000 for five days running before dropping to 727 on Monday.

Amid concerns from the wider population over the Games going ahead, Japan's chef de mission Tsuyoshi Fukui insisted a number of safety measures are in place to stop the virus spreading.

"Under these circumstances, we must admit that COVID-19 is not subsiding," Fukui said on Tuesday. "We have to pay tribute to many people that enabled us to start the Games.

"We will give our utmost efforts so that the athletes can do their best. We will, as Team Japan, never forget the sense of appreciation. As of Monday night, the Japanese athletes staying at the Athletes' Village is 236.

"We have seen more and more athletes from other nations enter the Village, but there are rigorous COVID-19 countermeasures enforced and so far, there has been no major issues.

"Including myself, athletes and other members are taking antigen tests every day, as well as using an app to monitor our health situations.

"Every time we enter the Athletes' Village, our temperatures are checked, and we disinfect our hands.

"In the dining hall, each seat is separated by acrylic boards. Also, everyone is also wearing face masks – so we have a strong sense that rigorous measures against the spread of COVID-19 are in place by the organising committee."

He added: "There are various opinions regarding the Games and we are aware of that. We would like to earnestly listen to and take these opinions into account, but at the same time the mission of the Japanese delegations is to establish an environment where an athlete could focus on sports.

"So through sports we want to deliver hope and bravery and to make sure that each athlete can do their best in their performance."

Olympics chief Thomas Bach revealed he masked his concerns about Tokyo 2020 going ahead because of fears the Games might "fall to pieces".

Bach is president of the International Olympic Committee, which he said "had to show a way out of this crisis" in order for the global event to go ahead amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking on Tuesday in Tokyo, Bach said the IOC had experienced daily concerns about the Olympics being able to proceed but had to present a positive message to stakeholders including sporting federations, sponsors, the Japanese government and broadcasters.

Had the IOC been open about worries for the Games, which were delayed by a year due to the global health crisis, Bach said it could have triggered a chain of events that would have seen the Olympics collapse.

Instead, the Games get under way this week, with the opening ceremony due to take place on Friday.

Bach said: "Over the past 15 months, we had to take daily decisions on very uncertain grounds. We had doubts every day. We deliberated and we discussed. There were sleepless nights. Like everyone else in the world, we did not know, I did not know, what the future would hold."

Bach appeared to scoff at any suggestion of the IOC deciding to "blindly force ahead at any price" and spoke of the "extreme stress test of the coronavirus crisis".

"Imagine for a moment what it would have meant if the leader of the Olympic movement, the IOC, would have added to the already many doubts surrounding the Olympic Games, if we would have poured fuel onto this fire," Bach said.

"How could we have convinced the athletes to continue to prepare for the Olympic Games by adding to their uncertainty?

"How could we have convinced all the other stakeholders to remain committed to the Olympic Games if we would have even deepened their already serious doubts.

"Our doubts could have become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The Olympic Games could have fallen to pieces. This is why, we had to keep these doubts to ourselves. This today I can admit and say it, it also weighed on us, it weighed on me.

"But in order to arrive at this day today, we had to give confidence. We had to show a way out of this crisis. We had to provide stability. We had to build trust. We had to give hope."

The IOC announced updated COVID-19 case figures for the Games on Tuesday, with 40 confirmed cases involving residents of Japan and 31 affecting those from overseas.

It almost went unnoticed among Jamaican track and field fans when Jazeel Murphy ran 10.17 in the preliminary round of the 100m at the American Track League meeting in California on Sunday. He would run a wind-aided 10.15 in the final while finishing sixth.

The performance prompted TITANS International Coach Michael Frater to express his pride in the achievement. “Proudest moment as a coach, so far. @JazeelMurphy finally lowering his PB after almost 10 years,” Frater posted on Instagram.

It was some achievement indeed and a long road back for one of the more promising talents from just over a decade ago.

Murphy was once a standout high school sprinter at Bridgeport High School. Blessed with raw speed and electric acceleration, he was among a talented group of young sprinters like Odean Skeen and Kemar Bailey-Cole from the era of the early 2000s, who seemed destined for greater things.

“Jazeel, as a youngster was on several junior teams and ran sub 21 at Carifta,” recalled David Riley, one of the top coaches in the country. “He was one of more the more promising athletes from that era but he had some lingering issues due to differences in his leg length (but) definitely the ability was always there.”

Murphy won the U17 sprint double at the Carifta Games in St Lucia in 2009 in 10.41 and 20.97, respectively, the latter a championship record. He won the U20 100m title in Jamaica in 2011 in 10.27.

Building on his momentum and rising status as perhaps the next great sprinter from Jamaica, the former Bridgeport High School athlete, won another Carifta U20 title in Bermuda in 2012 in a very windy 10.31 (5.7m/s). He later ran 10.29s for fifth place at the World U20 Championships in Barcelona, Spain, that same year.

The future loomed bright for Murphy, who would later join the Racer’s Track Club where it was hoped he would follow in the footsteps of Usain Bolt, who by then had won his sixth Olympic gold medal. However, in the years that followed, through injury and other related issues, Murphy failed to live up to expectations and began a steady decline.

After 2012, when he ran his personal best 10.25 into a headwind of -1.2m/s in Barcelona, Murphy seemed to get slower over time. Between 2013 and 2020, Murphy ran season-best time of 10.25 in 2013, 10.65 in 2014, 10.39 in 2015, 10.50 in 2016, 10.61 in 2017, 10.51 in 2018 and 10.85 in 2020. After almost a decade, no one remembered Murphy or even cared. He had become a statistic. Another of Jamaica's talented athletes who had fallen through the cracks.

Last summer, all that began to change.

Murphy, now 27, joined TITANS International in June 2020, weighing in at a whopping 260 pounds, Coach Gregory Little revealed to Sportsmax. TV. The first order of business, Little said, was to get his weight down under a two-year plan that will see him running even faster in 2022.

“This year was about conditioning and we want to get him up and running next year, getting him back to the feeling of running fast,” said Little, who believes Murphy, now down to about 185 pounds, should be running 9.9s by 2022.

“Hopefully, he can. He is just starting to learn everything about track and field.”

The first signs of Murphy’s revival came at the Olympic Destiny meet on May 22 when he ran 10.35. The following week he ran 10.28 just off his personal best at the time. Another 10.28 followed on June 5.

At the national championships, he ran 10.34 in the preliminary round but only after coming to an almost complete stop after emerging from the blocks thinking there was a false start. Realizing his mistake, he sped down the track but ran out of room and placed fifth.

His next stop was Mission Viejo in California on Sunday where he made the breakthrough, clocking a lifetime best of 10.17.

Little is hopeful that this is just the beginning of a revival for the ages, one that could see Jazeel Murphy take a major step forward in fulfilling his true potential.

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