Tokyo Olympics: What you need to know right now

The director of the Olympics opening ceremony was fired over an old comedy act in which he joked about the Holocaust, a day before the usually spectacular show was set to begin in much subdued fashion.

Here’s what you need to know about the Tokyo Games:

A CEREMONY LIKE NO OTHER

Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who stole the show at the closing ceremony of the Rio Olympics dressed as Super Mario, won’t be attending the opening ceremony in Tokyo, according to Japanese media.

Abe’s no-show and the firing of director Kentaro Kobayashi are the latest in a series of embarrassments for the ceremony’s organizers.

A fraction of each nation’s athletes are expected to attend the ceremony Friday night, which will be held in an almost empty stadium. About 950 people, including officials and journalists, will watch, organisers said.

SOFTBALLER HUNTS ROAMING BEAR

US softball pitcher Monica Abbott had one regret on a day she threw a dazzling shutout to beat Canada: She had no idea she was supposed to be on the lookout for a bear. 

Locked in for her Tokyo Olympics start on Thursday, Abbott must have missed headlines late Wednesday in which local authorities said security near Fukushima’s softball venue saw a brown bear two consecutive mornings this week.

“I’m kind of disappointed I didn’t get to see it,” Abbott, who has played in Japan’s national league since 2009, told a news conference after her start.

AUSSIE OLYMPIC BOSS SLAMMED

Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) boss John Coates, one of the IOC’s most powerful executives, raised eyebrows when he publicly ordered Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to attend the Tokyo Games opening ceremony.

Coates’s comments triggered outrage on social media, and he was accused of misogyny and “mansplaining” by some Australian media pundits.

However, Palaszczuk, the leader of the state where the 2032 Brisbane Games will be held, said there were no issues between her and Coates after the exchange.

“Yeah absolutely. He’s fantastic,” she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “John Coates has been the driving force behind us securing the Olympics.”

SWIMMERS IN FOCUS

The duel in the pool between Team USA’s Katie Ledecky, the dominator of women’s distance swimming, and 20-year-old Aussie “Terminator” Ariarne Titmus promises to be a highlight of week one.

Tunisian swimming double gold medallist Oussama Mellouli has decided to compete at the Tokyo Games, changing his mind about “boycotting” what will be his sixth Olympics.

World number one Kaylee McKeown of Australia will be withdrawing from the women’s 200 metres medley at this week’s Olympic Games to focus on her backstroke events, the national team coach said on Thursday, citing a tough schedule.

BIDEN LANDS

First Lady Jill Biden arrived in Tokyo Thursday afternoon for the Games’ opening ceremony, raising expectations she might also use her attendance to discuss vaccines with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

Biden, wearing a red dress and face mask, arrived at Yokota Air Base. She was set to dine with Suga and his wife Thursday before attending the opening ceremony on Friday.

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