Olympics 2021 — First gold given, plus updates from all the action in Tokyo


The Olympic Games are officially underway in Tokyo. After a yearlong delay due to the coronavirus pandemic and myriad questions leading up to Friday, we finally got to see Sue Bird and Eddy Alvarez lead Team USA’s delegation through the parade of nations and Naomi Osaka light the Olympic torch.

Now that the opening ceremonies have come and gone, it’s time to turn our attention to what the Games are all about: the competition.

Team USA boasts a stacked roster of 613 athletes in 36 different disciplines. That is the second-most Olympic athletes in United States history, trailing only the 1996 Atlanta Games when America had a contingent of 646 athletes.

Olympics medal tracker

From Simone Biles looking to tie the mark for most Olympic gold medals earned in women’s gymnastics (currently held by Soviet legend Larisa Latynina) to Megan Rapinoe and the U.S. women’s national soccer team looking to rectify their 2016 quarterfinal loss to Sweden by earning back-to-back World Cup and Olympic championships, Tokyo promises to be an Olympics to remember.

Here’s what went down during the first full day of events:

Naomi Osaka lights the torch

Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam champion and one of the superstars of the Games, joined Muhammad Ali, Steve Nash, Wayne Gretzky, Rafer Johnson and the 1980 U.S. men’s hockey team as Olympians who have had the distinguished honor of lighting the cauldron.

Willis: Osaka shines in closing the opening ceremony.

Team USA sings HBD to KD

It’s not even his birthday? Team USA made a point of trolling NBA superstar Kevin Durant by serenading him with a very public and very loud rendition of “Happy Birthday.” For those who think this could have been a pure gesture, we must inform you that Durant’s birthday isn’t until September.

Pre-parade fit check

Team USA showed off its look before marching in the opening ceremonies at the National Stadium in Tokyo on Friday.

‘Let’s just take a moment’

Returning for his third Olympics as the flag-bearer for Tonga, an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, Pita Taufatofua is always a crowd pleaser. His appearance prompted NBC’s Savannah Guthrie to say, “Let’s just take a moment.”

NBA’s Hachimura carries flag for hosts

Washington Wizards forward Rui Hachimura carried the flag for Japan at the opening ceremony. Hachimura was the No. 9 pick of the 2019 NBA draft out of Gonzaga.

A more environmentally friendly flame

According to the Associated Press, the flame at Tokyo’s National Stadium and another cauldron burning along the waterfront near Tokyo Bay throughout the games will be sustained in part by hydrogen, the first time the fuel source will be used to power an Olympic fire.

Previous flames have usually run on propane, although magnesium, gunpowder, resin and olive oil have also been used since the first modern cauldron was lit for the Amsterdam Games in 1928. Unlike propane, hydrogen does not produce carbon dioxide when combusted.

Organizers for the London Games in 2012 touted plans for a low-carbon torch but couldn’t get the design right in time. They instead used a mix of propane and butane. Brazilian officials commissioned a smaller cauldron for Rio in 2016 to reduce the amount of fuel needed.

A new look for hoops

Konnichiwa from FLOTUS

Nigerian first

China earns first gold of Games

China’s Yang Qian won the first gold medal of the Tokyo Olympics, taking the top spot in the women’s 10-meter air rifle.

Yang overtook Russia’s Anastasiia Galashina when she missed the center two rings for an 8.9 on her final shot.

Yang had a 9.8 on her final shot and finished with an Olympic record 251.8. Galashina finished at 251.1.

Team USA’s water wall

Team USA women’s water polo goalkeeper Ashleigh Johnson allowed her team to take a commanding lead over Japan. Johnson finished with 15 saves. The Americans defeated the host nation 25-4 in the first match of Group B.


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