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Meet Italy Team: EURO 2020 Winners

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Gianluigi Donnarumma denied Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho, while Marcus Rashford hit the post as Italy edged a penalty shoot-out dripping in tension to overcome England in the UEFA EURO 2020 final.

England had a dream start to their first ever EURO showpiece, Luke Shaw thumping in a fine goal inside two minutes to light up Wembley.

Yet Italy slowly found their feet and midway through the second half Leonardo Bonucci found the net.

On to extra time, and then penalties, where both goalkeepers saved two; history, though, belongs to Donnarumma the victor.

Match in brief

“It is important we make a good start,” Roberto Mancini had said on the eve of Italy’s fourth EURO final. What ensued was anything but. With less than two minutes on the clock, Harry Kane spread a pass out wide to surprise starter Kieran Trippier, and his delightful cross was met by a crisp left-footed half-volley from the stealthy Shaw. England rejoiced.

If the atmosphere was electric before, it was enough to power half of north London once the goal went in.

The Azzurri were shocked but showed their mettle as they regrouped, gained a foothold and started stringing passes together.

Only the final pass, the final shot let them down – not always by much, with the excellent Federico Chiesa whistling a shot just wide before the break.

The pressure was ratcheted up after half-time and eventually it told. Domenico Berardi’s corner caused all manner of problems, and though Jordan Pickford pushed Marco Verratti’s header onto the post, Bonucci was there to prod in. Italy came again and again.

But England held on. Into extra time we went, and then penalties, which seesawed back and forth.

Pickford denied Andrea Belotti and Jorginho; Rashford struck the post and Sancho, also introduced on 120 minutes, was denied by Donnarumma.

Saka, the youngest man on the pitch, could have taken it to sudden death, but Donnarumma guessed right and, once and for all, England’s unofficial anthem Sweet Caroline was silenced.

For a generation of Italy fans, the good times really have never seemed so good.

Star of the Match: Leonardo Bonucci (Italy), “Such a strong defensive performance from the 34-year-old. Great distribution out from the back and the all-important equaliser.”

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TOKYO OLYMPICS 2020

Covid Cases At Olympic Games ‘Within Expectations’ – CEO

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The Covid-19 situation among Tokyo Olympic athletes and staff has been “within expectations,” the CEO of the organising committee said Sunday, insisting that there is no link between the games and surging infections in the Japanese capital and beyond.

“We are conducting more than 30,000 tests every day, quickly isolating any positive cases and taking appropriate steps to prevent the virus from spreading,” Toshiro Muto told a press briefing.

“Having gone into these Olympics promising a safe and secure games for all participants, Tokyo residents and the Japanese people, I think we have been able to deal with Covid-19 at a level within expectations so far.”

Muto’s comments came as infections in Japan sharply rise, with the nationwide tally of daily cases hitting a record high for the fourth straight day at 12,342 on Saturday, of which Tokyo accounts for about one third.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has said the surge is not related to the Olympics, which are being held without spectators at almost all venues, while Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike has said high TV ratings suggest people are heeding calls to stay home.

“We have the exact same thinking,” Muto said, referring to the remarks by the two leaders.

The organising committee on Sunday reported 18 more Covid-19 cases related to the games, one of them an athlete from overseas, bringing the cumulative total since the beginning of July to 259.

Among the 18, 11 are contractors, five are Olympics-linked officials and one is a volunteer.

Five are from abroad and 13 are residents of Japan, the organising committee said. The figures do not include cases announced by central and local governments.

Regarding incidents of participants being punished for violating the “playbook” — a set of rules for athletes, staff and media members — Muto confirmed that so far six people have had their accreditation revoked for egregious offences.

The six consist of four contractors who were arrested prior to the games opening for alleged cocaine use, and two Georgian judoka who broke Covid-19 protocols by leaving the athletes village to go sightseeing.

A further eight people have had their accreditation suspended, four made to write “letters of commitment,” and 10 given a warning, according to Muto.

“This is extremely unfortunate as it could damage perceptions toward the vast majority of participants who are following the rules,” he said.

In the latest example of rule-breaking, police officers were sent to a park inside the Olympic village after receiving a complaint that athletes were drinking and causing a commotion, according to Muto.

The Tokyo metropolitan police received the call around 2 a.m. Saturday but nobody was there when the officers arrived on the scene, according to a police source.

Athletes at the games are allowed to drink in their accommodations but not in public spaces. Muto said the organizing committee is looking into the incident and will “act appropriately.”

 

 

Japatoday

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TOKYO OLYMPICS 2020

Olympic Athletes Taking Knee For Black Lives Matter

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Athletes from across the globe taking a knee in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

However, such Athlete protest was once forbidden at the Olympics.

Women’s soccer players from Great Britain and Chile kicked off the games by taking a knee to protest the racial discrimination that Black players on England’s national team faced after losing the UEFA European Championship earlier this month.

The Japanese women’s soccer team later did the same, a rare act of protest by a Japanese team. Costa Rican gymnast Luciana Alvarado took a knee and put her first in the air after finishing her floor routine on Sunday.

“This global stage with a global audience is a rare opportunity,” said Richard Lapchick, director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport and a professor at the University of Central Florida.

The pickup in demonstrations follows the International Olympic Committee’s recent decision to relax decades-old restrictions on athlete expression meant to maintain neutrality at the games.

The amended guidelines in Rule 50 of the Olympic charter now allow athletes to engage in demonstrations at select times and sites as long as those actions do not constitute or signal “discrimination, hatred, hostility or the potential for violence.”

The latest actions highlight a longtime paradox for athletes: They are held up as heroes until they use their platforms to make political statements.

That has started to change thanks to National Football League quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was sidelined from his job after taking a knee to protest police brutality during the U.S. national anthem at a 2016 game.

But even now, athletes aren’t immune to the consequences of speaking out. American gymnastics star Simone Biles and Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka both faced criticism for bringing mental health to the fore during this year’s Olympic games.

Osaka also took a thrashing on social media after losing a match at the Olympics on Tuesday, with some questioning why she represented Japan as the final torchbearer in the games’ opening ceremony.

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TOKYO OLYMPICS 2020

China Surprises US, Australia in Women’s 4×200-Meter Relay

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China surprised the U.S. and Australia with a world-record performance in the women’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay on Thursday.

Katie Ledecky took the anchor leg for the Americans in third place, nearly 2 seconds behind the Chinese and also trailing the Aussies.

Ledecky passed Australia’s Leah Neale and closed the gap significant on China’s Li Bingjie, but couldn’t quite catch her at the end.

Li touched in 7 minutes, 40.33 seconds, denying both Ledecky and Ariarne Titmus another gold medal.

After winning both the 200 and 400 free individual titles, Titmus led off for Australia in the relay.

The Americans claimed silver in 7:40.73, while Australia took the bronze in 7:41.29.

It was the first swimming world record of the Tokyo Games — in fact, all three medalists broke the previous mark of 7:41.50 set by the Aussies at the 2019 world championships.

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