After much debate on the fate of the Tokyo Olympics thanks to the COVID-19 situation, the Games were finally declared open on Friday as fireworks kickstarted the Opening Ceremony here at the Japan National Stadium.
With the emergence of COVID-19, many athletes had to train for the showpiece event in isolation and this was the highlight during the Opening Ceremony as performers showed how they have been connected by their hope and shared passion. After the fireworks and lighting show, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach was welcomed on the stage. The IOC had decided that only six officials will be allowed per contingent.
Tokyo Olympics 2020 opening ceremony begins at Japan National Stadium, in Tokyo on Friday.Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka
Japanese athlete Naomi Osaka on Friday became the first tennis player to light the Olympic cauldron during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo Games. Osaka had the distinct honour of serving as the final torchbearer of the Olympic Torch Relay, lighting the cauldron inside the Olympic Stadium for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 in 2021. Osaka, 23, is a four-time major champion in tennis who is making her Olympic debut. She won her fourth Grand Slam title at the Australian Open earlier in 2021.
During the ceremony, parading athletes observed physical distancing. At the beginning of the ceremony, the Japanese flag entered the Olympic Stadium and after that, the light show began.
This year’s Olympics will feature a record 33 sports comprising 339 events. The initial video which kicked off the ceremony showed Tokyo’s elation at winning the bid to host the Games and then the stadium went into darkness as the 2020 event had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
There have been questions raised in Japan over the hosting of the Olympics even when the host nation has been witnessing a surge in Covid-19 infections and total Games-related cases have risen to 106. Even though the Opening Ceremony kicked off, protestors took to the streets to voice their unhappiness of the Games going ahead in Tokyo.
The torch relay had recently concluded its journey through Tokyo having spent most of the 15-day final leg of its nationwide tour off roads and away from the public.
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LAKSHYA SEN WINS INDIA OPEN 2022, DEFEATS LOH KEAN YEW
India shuttler Lakshya Sen won the men’s singles final of the ongoing India Open 2022 here at the KD Jadhav Stadium here on Sunday. Lakshya Sen defeated Singapore’s Loh Kean Yew 24-22, 21-17 in the summit clash that lasted for 54 minutes. This is the first time that Sen has managed to win the Super 500 title in his career.
Lakshya Sen was comfortably leading the first game, but world champion Kean Yew came from behind, and it was evenly poised at 22-22. The India shuttler then raised his game to win the first game 24-22. The 20-year-old Sen continued with his momentum and he went on to win the summit clash in straight games.
Earlier on Sunday, the duo of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy clinched victory in the men’s doubles finals of Indian Open 2022, which is part of the BWF World Tour tournament series. The Indian pair defeated the Indonesian duo of Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan in straight games 21-16, 26-24 in the summit clash that lasted for 43 minutes.
WITH VIRAT STEPPING DOWN AS TEST LEADER, TASK OF TRANSITION RELIES HEAVILY ON DRAVID
With Virat Kohli stepping down as Test skipper, it is safe to say that it is an end of an era, and now head coach Rahul Dravid has much work to do in order to create a solid unit which can win on both at home and overseas conditions.
The 33-year-old Kohli brought an end to his seven-year stint as the captain of Team India, which saw him becoming the most successful Indian Test captain. Kohli holds the record for most Test appearances as India Test captain (68) and he also holds the record for most Test wins by an Indian captain (40). Only Graeme Smith, Ricky Ponting, and Steve Waugh have won more matches than Kohli as captain in Test cricket.
Kohli had first led the side in Test cricket in 2014 against Australia. His last game as captain was the Cape Town Test in South Africa, which India lost by seven wickets. Now, the 33-year-old has departed as skipper so it needs to be asked if not Virat, then who as the skipper of the Test side?
It is safe to say that Rohit Sharma is the frontrunner to be the Test captain as he was named the vice-captain for the South Africa Tests, but injury ruled him out and KL Rahul had to step in as the deputy. Over the past year, the right-handed batter showed great grit and determination with the bat and everyone knows about what he can bring as a captain.
However, Rohit’s fitness has been an issue and it needs to be seen whether the selectors want to give a 34-year-old the reign of all three formats or do they want to look at the future and think of a long-term prospect. The second option is KL Rahul, who recently led Team India in the second Test against South Africa in the absence of Kohli.
Rahul has also shown great determination with the bat at the top of the order in overseas conditions but one thing with Rahul is that his batting can hit a rough patch all of a sudden.
And when the batter hits a lull patch, getting out of it has become tough for Rahul and this can act against Rahul. His leadership record for Punjab Kings in the Indian Premier League (IPL) is not that great — 15 losses in 27 games. Another prospect is Rishabh Pant and the selectors can look at the wicketkeeper-batter if they want to look at the future.
Pant showed a great cricketing brain while leading the Delhi Capitals and with age being on his side, the 24-year-old can emerge as a good choice. Now, this is where the role of head coach Rahul Dravid will come in as Team India looks set for a transition.
Speaking before Cape Town, Virat Kohli had said that transition cannot be forced and it tends to happen naturally. However, with Virat stepping down and the poor form of Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara, it is fair to say that the transition has been forced.
The era of Ravi Shastri and Virat Kohli has come to an end, and now it needs to be seen whether Dravid can create another impeccable unit that can win on both at home and overseas conditions. Pujara and Rahane’s form does not make it easy for Dravid as the head coach also needs to look at probable replacements for the duo.
Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Suryakumar Yadav, and Shubman Gill are the four probable suspects that can come into the playing XI to replace Pujara and Rahane. This will make Kohli the most experienced batter in the lineup, and it is fair to say that he would have to lead the batting unit despite not being the “designated leader”.
In the end, it is fair to say that Dravid’s tenure coach could not have gotten to a more rocky start, and if the former India batter was known for his resilience in the field, it is the same quality, the new coach has to show in order to take the team through some testing times.
Defending champion Novak Djokovic to miss Australian Open 2022
Novak Djokovic on Sunday said he is “extremely disappointed” by the Australian court’s ruling to dismiss the tennis player’s application for judicial review of the cancellation of his visa.
The world number one men’s singles player further confirmed that he will not participate in the Australian Open, where he is the three-time defending champion. A statement released by the nine-time AO champion read: “I would like to make a brief statement to address the outcomes of today’s Court hearing. I will now be taking some time to rest and to recuperate, before making any further comments beyond this.”
“I am extremely disappointed with the Court ruling to dismiss my application for judicial review of the Minister’s decision to cancel my visa, which means I cannot stay in Australia and participate in the Australian Open,” he added.
“I respect the Court’s ruling and I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country. I am uncomfortable that the focus of the past weeks has been on me and I hope that we can all now focus on the game and tournament I love. I would like to wish the players, tournament officials, staff, volunteers and fans all the best for the tournament.”
“Finally, I would like to thank my family, friends, team, supporters, fans and my fellow Serbians for your continued support. You have all been a great source of strength to me,” he signed off.
Novak Djokovic on Sunday lost his appeal against deportation, the Chief Justice James Allsop of the Federal Court of Australia announced.
Djokovic will now be required to leave Australia. The decision was unanimous, said Chief Justice Allsop. Other judges who were hearing Djokovic’s appeal were Anthony Besanko, and David O’Callaghan of the Federal Court of Australia.
The tennis player was also ordered to pay the legal costs to the government. Djokovic’s visa was cancelled on Friday by Hawke, the Australian Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services, and Multicultural Affairs.
THERE WAS NO PRESSURE ON VIRAT TO LEAVE: BCCI TREASURER
The captain under whose leadership, Team India has been number one for 42 months, has been the only captain in the world who has been the captain of the team which won the ICC Team of the Year trophy thrice, who has the experience to win tests on 29 different grounds, under whose captaincy India played the WTC final. He is the first Asian captain to beat Australia in Australia. Have the distinction of being the only captain to win more test matches in SENA countries than any other Asian country. That player suddenly announced his resignation from the test captaincy on twitter which tells a lot.
Most captaincy for India, most matches won and an amazing record of winning 16 out of 40 matches abroad. Even he knew that if in the current season, India will have more matches on its soil, then it will be an opportunity to break the record of Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting and even Graeme Smith.
Virat Kohli scored seven double centuries and 20 centuries in Test as captain. Having an average of over 50 in all three formats makes him great. It’s true that Virat hasn’t been able to perform like that in the last two years for which he is known. His average in Tests continues to go down.
There was the pressure of not winning a single ICC trophy. Before the SA tour, whatever happened before leaving was not hidden from anyone. Chief selector Chetan Sharma added fuel to the fire by saying that Sourav spoke on the captaincy issue of ODI in front of the selectors. This statement was made only during the test series. It is also true that in India it has been seen for a long time that the blame for the performance falls on the captain. BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal made it clear that there was no pressure on Virat to leave. It was his own decision and the board respects it.
Sanjay Manjrekar said that after taking charge of coach by Dravid, Virat was not in that much comfort zone and R Ashwin said that you have done the work of sowing such seeds which produced a good crop but at the same time relinquishing the captaincy has created a problem. Only those who can read Virat’s mindset can tell that Ravi Shastri was undoubtedly his yesman.
Shastri allowed him to do what he wanted, which may not be possible during the time of Dravid. The fundamental difference between the two is that Dravid wanted to go to SA with six batsmen, even under his own captaincy he had adopted the same formula of landing with four bowlers but Virat`s thinking was different.
On the other hand, raising the issue of Virat’s successor is also justified. Neither KL Rahul is that consistent nor Rohit Sharma is so fit. Both these things matter a lot to be the captain. Even Dhoni also went to make Virat his successor but now this problem is serious.
In the end Anushka Sharma wrote, “Truly blessed are those who tried to get to know you beneath what meets the eye. You are not perfect and have your flaws but then again when did you ever try to conceal that? What you did was to always stand up for doing the right right, the harder thing, always!
Australia thrash England by 146 runs in fifth Test
The Three Lions were bowled out for 124, handing Australia a 146-run win in the fifth and final Ashes Test.
Cameron Green and Scott Boland took three wickets each in the second innings as Australia defeated England by 146 runs in the fifth Ashes Test here at the Blundstone Arena on Sunday.
With this win, Australia won the five-match Ashes 4-0. Australian skipper Pat Cummins also took three wickets in the second innings as the hosts completed a perfect bowling performance. Resuming the third and final session on Day 3 at 68/1, England batters Dawid Malan and Zak Crawley added 14 more runs to the total, but Australia came storming back as Cameron Green dismissed Malan (10) and Crawley (36) in quick succession, reducing England to 83/3 in the 23rd over.
Left-handed batter Ben Stokes (5) failed to leave a mark with the bat as he was scalped by Mitchell Starc in the 28th over. Nine runs later, Scott Boland went through Root’s (11) defence, and England found itself reeling at 101/5, still, 170 runs away from the target.
Boland struck once again and this time he sent Sam Billings (1) back to the pavilion and hence England was in danger of losing the fifth Ashes Test inside three days. In the very next over, Ollie Pope (5) was bowled by skipper Pat Cummins and the wheels started to come off for England. In the end, the Three Lions were bowled out for 124, handing Australia a 146-run win in the fifth and final Ashes Test. Earlier in the day, Australia were bowled out for 155 in the second innings, setting England a target of 271 to win. For Australia, Alex Carey top-scored with a knock of 49 while Mark Wood scalped six wickets for England.
DJOKOVIC’S VISA CANCELLED AGAIN, CASTING SERIOUS DOUBTS OVER AUSTRALIAN OPEN PARTICIPATION
The Australian Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services, and Multicultural Affairs, Alex Hawke, again cancelled Novak Djokovic’s visa on Friday. This decision has cast serious clouds of doubt on whether the 20-time Grand Slam champion Serbian will play in the season’s first major Australian Open or not. “Today I exercised my power under section 133C(3) of the Migration Act to cancel the visa held by Mr Novak Djokovic on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so,” minister in an official statement said.
“This decision followed orders by the Federal Circuit and Family Court on January 10, 2022, quashing a prior cancellation decision on procedural fairness grounds. In making this decision, I carefully considered information provided to me by the Department of Home Affairs, the Australian Border Force and Mr Djokovic.”
“The Morrison Government is firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. I thank the officers of the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Border Force who work every day to serve Australia’s interests in increasingly challenging operational environments,” the statement added.
Djokovic’s visa was initially cancelled upon arrival after hours of interrogation by Border Force officials. Then on Monday, judge Anthony Kelly of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia quashed the cancellation of Djokovic’s visa after tennis player spent five days detained in an immigration hotel.
Notably, world number one men’s singles tennis player Djokovic on Wednesday admitted that he conducted an in-person media interview and photoshoot in December despite knowing the fact that he was COVID-19 positive. On Thursday, AO 2022’s draw was revealed and Djokovic was placed against compatriot Miomir Kecmanovic in the opening round.
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