/ 23 July 2021

Higher, faster, stronger – and they’re on…

After a year-long delay, the doubling in the cost, and endless will-they-won’t-they questions about whether it would happen at all, the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games will be declared open tonight. The event will be held at Japan’s new National Stadium in Tokyo kicking off at 9pm (AEST). Organisers have been tight-lipped about the pomp and pageantry, but one thing’s for sure – it’ll be unique…

HOW UNIQUE?
Well, for starters, instead of more than 10,000 athletes marching into a spectator-packed arena, the team parade will be smaller. Like, heaps smaller… Roughly 50 athletes from Team Oz will be led by swimmer Cate Campbell and basketballer Patty Mills into an empty stadium. Filling those seats will be a handful of VIPs including Japan’s Emperor Naruhito, US First Lady Jill Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron – and after some serious badgering, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. And don’t expect to make much sense of the order that nations enter the stadium. Greece goes first, France is 2nd-last as host of the 2024 Games, and finally Japan. In between, it’s going by the Japanese alphabet…

ENOUGH WITH THE CEREMONIALS… WHO ARE THE AUSSIES TO WATCH?
The ones who are in or on top of the water – think swimming, rowing and sailing. There are high hopes for swimmer Emma McKeon who backed up her fastest time to win the women’s 100m freestyle at the qualifying trials in June. Eyes will also be on Olympics debutante Kaylee McKeown who yesterday withdrew from the 200m medley so she can focus on her 100m and 200m backstroke races. Outside of swimming, canoeist Jessica Fox wants gold after winning bronze in 2016 and silver in 2012 – that’s if she can keep her cool around Ash Barty… And the Australian men’s football (aka soccer) team has shown they’re in it to win it after a 2-0 win over Argentina last night. All up, the bookies say to expect 12 gold medals. Other number-crunchers say it could be as many as 16, putting Oz in 6th place on the medal tally. Let’s smash ’em like guitars…

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