Tokyo Olympics: Fans defy warnings from Games organisers by lining the streets to cheer on road race riders


Japanese fans have lined the streets to support riders in the Men’s Road Race on day one of the Olympics.

Tokyo 2020 organisers had asked people not to gather along the 145-mile route but locals turned out in big numbers to cheer on the competitors and wave flags.

The ban on spectators at almost all venues due to COVID-19 concerns means there are very few events that will be publicly accessible at Tokyo 2020.

Team GB riders Geraint Thomas, Tao Geoghegan Hart and twins Adam and Simon Yates were among more than 130 riders who tackled the course that skirts around the iconic Mount Fuji outside Tokyo.

German rider Simon Geschke was forced to pull out after testing positive for COVID just 24 hours before the race.

He said on social media: “It’s a dark day in my career, but I will be back soon later this year hopefully.”

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Cycling - Road - Men's Road Race - Final - Tokyo to Fuji International Speedway, Japan - July 24, 2021. Riders pass the Okunitama shrine REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
Organisers had asked people not to gather along the 145-mile route

Elsewhere Seonaid McIntosh from Edinburgh missed out on a place in the final of the 10m Air Rifle after finishing 12th in her qualification round at the Asaka Shooting Range.

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The 25-year-old, who had been tipped as a medal contender, said: “I struggled a bit with fatigue and the heat.

“I’m mostly happy with how I fought through it and while the last couple of shots weren’t great, I’m pleased with how I performed.”

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Shooting - Women's 10m Air Rifle - Qualification - Asaka Shooting Range, Tokyo, Japan – July 24, 2021. Alison Weisz of the United States and Seonaid McIntosh of Britain
Alison Weisz of the US and Seonaid McIntosh of Great Britain

Chinese shooter Yang Qian took the first gold medal of the Games in the 10m event – McIntosh shoots again next weekend in the 50m competition.

Saturday is one of the busiest days at the Games with British boxers Pete McGrail from Liverpool and Karriss Artingstall from Macclesfield in Cheshire both in their first fights.

At the Sea Forest Waterway venue the rowing regatta is in full swing – Helen Glover and Polly Swann came third in their heat but still qualified for the semi-finals.

Glover is chasing gold at a third consecutive Games and is making her comeback after having three children since the Rio Games.

Her son turns three this weekend and sent his mum a good luck video message ahead of her competition.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Rowing - Women's Pair - Heats - Sea Forest Waterway, Tokyo, Japan - July 24, 2021. Helen Glover of Britain and Polly Swann of Britain in action REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw
Helen Glover and Polly Swann came third in their heat but still qualified for the semi-finals

Seventeen further COVID-19 cases have been confirmed among Games participants, bringing the total to over 130.

Organisers insist that the shortage of PCR testing kits reported yesterday has been rectified.

As well as the COVID concerns, organisers are also monitoring a typhoon in the region that may disrupt competition schedules for events like surfing.

Rowing schedules have already been altered to try and avoid the expected bad weather on Monday.

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