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5 things to know: Canadians march in sober opening ceremony at Tokyo Olympics

From an understated opening ceremony due to COVID-19 restrictions to an Olympic rower continuing her resilient journey on Tokyo Bay, here are five things to know from Friday at the Tokyo Games.
Basketball's Miranda Ayim and rugby's Nathan Hirayama carry the flag as Canada enters the Tokyo Olympics.


Tokyo went with a muted approach for the kickoff of the 2020 Olympics on Friday for a polarizing Games that were postponed a year but still couldn't escape the pandemic. The performances at an empty National Olympic Stadium before the traditional Parade of Nations were well done, but lacked the enthusiasm of ceremonies of past Games.

Led by flag-bearers Miranda Ayim and Nathan Hirayama, the small Canadian contingent walked out dressed in white pants and red jackets with a white Maple Leaf on the back – and mandatory grey face masks.

The Canadians waved to their fellow athletes already gathered on the stadium floor, and the few people in the stands. They clapped and chanted “Canada” as they marched. Others took videos and selfies with their phones.

Ayim and Hirayama turned to get their photo taken by an athlete leading the pack, throwing a thumbs up to the camera – and presumably smiling behind their masks. Some of the roughly 30 athletes taking part in the opening ceremony for Canada were divers Melissa Citrini-Beaulieu and Caeli McKay alongside canoer/kayakers Haley Daniels and Florence Maheu.


The Canadian Olympic team's top doctor is confident in measures designed to reduce risk of COVID-19 infection among the team and in the athletes' village. Dr. Mike Wilkinson said the positive cases identified in the athletes' village "have shown that the system is working and importantly there have not been any instances of any transmission within the village." More than 90 per cent of Canada's delegation in Tokyo is fully vaccinated with two doses, according to the Canadian Olympic Committee. Meanwhile, the U.S. Olympic Committee says about 100 of its 613 athletes are unvaccinated.


Jessica Sevick of Strathmore, Alta., and Gabrielle Smith of Unionville, Ont., finished their women's double sculls heat in a time of six minutes 57.69 seconds over 2,000 metres to comfortably qualify for Monday's semifinals. It's part of a remarkable journey to the Olympics for Sevick, who was seriously injured in a luge training accident when she was 12. "I learned so much from that experience," Sevick said. "I don't think I could have got here if that hadn't happened. I learned a lot (about) resilience."

In other action on Tokyo Bay, Trevor Jones of Lakefield, Ont., won his heat in the men's single sculls to advance to the quarterfinals, while Carling Zeeman of Cambridge, Ont., was second in her women's sculls heat.


The searing heat of summer in Tokyo had been a concern for organizers long before the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the Games for a year. On Friday, Russian archer Svetlana Gomboeva lost consciousness during a competition due to the high temperatures.

Gomboeva collapsed shortly after completing the qualifying round and was attended by medical staff, coach Stanislav Popov said in comments published by the Russian Olympic Committee.

Temperatures in Tokyo were above 30 C. Some athletes, including Canadian race-walker Evan Dunfee, have tailored their training programs to combat the cruel conditions in Tokyo.


The World Anti-Doping Agency says several Russian athletes have been kept away from the Tokyo Olympics because of doping suspicions based on evidence from a Moscow testing laboratory that was shut down in 2015. The team of 335 Russian athletes accredited for Tokyo is competing without a national flag or anthem as punishment for state tampering with the Moscow lab's database. The team name is ROC, the abbreviation for the Russian Olympic Committee.


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