TOKYO — The women took the stage in skateboarding on Monday at Ariake Urban Sports Park, where the women’s street final presents several intriguing possibilities. They mostly revolve around Japan, and the chance that a 13-year-old Brazilian could win a gold medal.
But they also included Alexis Sablone, 34, the veteran from Brooklyn who is looking to punctuate her career with a memorable Olympics, if not a medal.
In preliminary heats in the morning, she grabbed the eighth and final slot in the final, just ahead of Leticia Bufoni of Brazil and Pamela Rosa, two of the sport’s biggest stars and gold medal favorites.
Neither made the final, turning the contest projections upside down.
But three Japanese skaters, all of them teenagers in a sport that is infusing the Olympics with youthful spunk, advanced. So did Rayssa Leal of Brazil, 13, who would become the youngest gold medal winner in Summer Olympics history. (The youngest in the Winter Olympics is short-track speedskater Kim Yun-mi of South Korea, who was 13 when she won a relay event in 1994.)
For Japan, Funa Nakayama, 16, Momiji Nishiya, 13, and Aori Nishimura, 19, each finished near the top of the scoreboard. Any — or all — of them could skate away with medals, after the gold medal performance of Yuto Horigome, a Tokyo native, at the same park a day earlier.
The focus in the last of the four heats turned to the powerhouse Brazil team, which reasonably expected to bring three skaters to the final and perhaps sweep the podium. But Rosa, 22, who won the world championship in 2019 and has a collection of other big-event trophies, fell three times in the tricks portion of her heat.
Bufoni, 28, one of the most famous skaters in the world, won her sixth X Games gold medal this month in California. But she needed a big score on her final trick. She landed it, but it was not enough to push her past Sablone.
That leaves Brazil’s hopes of dominance in the contest to Leal. She first gained global attention in 2017, when Tony Hawk shared her Instagram post of her skating in a bunny suit. A few days ago, Leal posted a photograph of her with Hawk, 53, at the Olympic venue, a living example of skateboarding’s unusual links to its roots and history.
This is the debut of skateboarding at the Olympics, and there are two distinct disciplines: street and park. Street, today’s event, is a playground of stairs, rails and short ramps meant to simulate something like a schoolyard or an office park. There are no compulsory moves. Athletes will perform two 45-second runs and five single tricks, and each will be judged on a 10-point scale.
The four best scores will be added together. At the end, it’s possible that the Olympics will have its youngest champion, or that Japan will have another skateboarding star.
Katie Ledecky tried for gold medal No. 1 in Tokyo when she swam in the 400-meter freestyle final on Monday morning. While she is dominant in the longer events, at this distance she faced a significant challenge from Ariarne Titmus of Australia.
The United States won its first relay gold in the men’s 4×100 freestyle, finishing before second-place Italy and third-place Australia. Swimming started at 10:30 a.m. in Tokyo (9:30 p.m. Eastern).
After the debut of skateboarding on Sunday, the women get to compete in street, and two Brazilians will be in the spotlight. The favorite was probably Pamela Rosa, but she failed to qualify for the final. But her countrywoman Rayssa Leal, a strong contender at just 13 years old, advanced.
Russia, China and Japan will vie for the top spots at the men’s team gymnastics competition.
And it was an early start for the male triathletes, who began at 6:30 a.m. in Tokyo (5:30 p.m. Eastern) to avoid the heat.
Here are some highlights of U.S. broadcast coverage for Sunday evening and overnight, including women’s swimming, taekwondo and the next game for the seemingly unstoppable softball team. All times are Eastern.
Skateboarding: Nyjah Huston, the biggest name in contest skateboarding, stumbled this weekend with a seventh-place finish. On Sunday, the women’s street qualification and final begins at 7:30 p.m. on CNBC.
Surfing: Carissa Moore of the U.S., who has four world titles, is among the 16 surfers competing to advance to the women’s quarterfinals. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. on the NBC Sports app and NBCOlympics.com.
Softball: The United States faces off with Japan at 9 p.m. on USA Network.
Rugby: The men’s and women’s U.S. teams were ranked second in the world before the pandemic and are eager for a medal in Tokyo. CNBC will carry the first rounds of pool play in the men’s tournament beginning at 8 p.m.
Taekwondo: Athletes compete in the women’s 67 kg and the men’s 80 kg weight class events on Sunday. Competition begins streaming at 9 p.m. on NBCOlympics.com.
Judo: Coverage of Day 3 competition starts at 10 p.m. on NBCOlympics.com.
Sunday started with the first gold medal for the United States, won by Chase Kalisz in the men’s 400-meter individual medley. Ahmed Hafnaoui, 18, of Tunisia was the surprise winner of the men’s 400 free. Australia swam away with the women’s 4×100 relay, and the United States, with Simone Manuel swimming the anchor leg, won the bronze medal.
Simone Biles made her debut, but the American women’s gymnastics team was overshadowed by Russia. Biles even made some errors, flying out of bounds in the floor exercise and stumbling on her beam dismount.
After a shaky exhibition campaign that included two losses, the American men’s basketball team faltered again in its Olympic opener against France, 83-76.
After lighting the cauldron at the opening ceremony, Naomi Osaka dispatched Zheng Saisai in her first tennis match, 6-1, 6-4.
For the first time ever, there was skateboarding at the Olympics, with the men’s street competition, and the gold medal went to Yuto Horigome of Japan.
The United States won just its third gold medal in women’s fencing as Lee Kiefer won the foil event with a 15-13 victory over top-ranked Inna Deriglazova of Russia. The two previous golds were both in saber by Mariel Zagunis in 2004 and 2008.
Anastasija Zolotic won the first women’s taekwondo gold medal ever for the United States.
TOKYO — Simone Biles rolled her eyes. She shrugged her shoulders. She scrunched up her face and winced.
One look at her revealed all that you needed to know about how the U.S. women’s team fared on Sunday during qualifying at the Tokyo Games. And none of it was good for the team that had dominated the sport for more than a decade.
With uncharacteristic mistakes, including many by Biles, the best gymnast in history, the United States team finished behind Russia in qualifying. It wasn’t close, either, with more than a point’s difference between the countries.
It was a rare day of mistakes for Simone Biles, including on her beam routine, where she took several steps to gain control after her dismount.
Photographs by Bedel Saget/The New York Times; composite image by Jeremy White
The Americans can still come back on Tuesday in the final to win the gold medal because the slate is wiped clean for that event. In that competition, the U.S. will try to keep its winning streak alive. The team has not lost a world championship or an Olympics team event since 2010, and is trying to win its fourth straight Olympic gold medal.
“This might be a great awakening for us, and we’ll take advantage of it,” Tom Forster, the women’s national team coordinator, said after congratulating Russia for its performance. He said the Russians edged the Americans because they were “cleaner and had more depth,” and that the U.S. team made mental mistakes because of nerves.
SAITAMA, Japan — The United States men’s basketball team fell to France, 83-76, in its opening game of the Olympics on Sunday night at Saitama Super Arena, remaining on unsteady footing after taking a rocky path to Tokyo.
The Americans shot only 36 percent and were outscored badly in the third quarter, 25-11, when they blew an 8-point halftime lead and fell behind for good.
Evan Fournier, who played for the Boston Celtics last season, led France with 28 points. Jrue Holiday, fresh off winning the N.B.A. title with the Milwaukee Bucks, scored 18 for the United States less than 24 hours after landing in Tokyo.
Since late June, when their 12-man roster was announced, the Americans have experienced multiple waves of upheaval.
Bradley Beal was removed from the roster and ruled out of the Olympics on July 15 after testing positive for the coronavirus. The next day, the team lost Kevin Love, who was struggling with a leg injury. Last week, Zach LaVine was forced to miss the team’s flight to Tokyo and had to join the group later in the week after being placed in virus-related protocols himself.
And the three players who appeared in the N.B.A. finals — Devin Booker, Khris Middleton and Holiday — did not join the team at their hotel in Tokyo until early in the morning on Sunday. U.S. Coach Gregg Popovich had indicated leading into the tournament that he would have to be ready to adjust playing time based on how players were dealing with jet lag and fatigue.
Personnel issues aside, the team had not looked great on the floor. It lost two consecutive exhibition games in Las Vegas, falling to Nigeria and Australia in a three-day span. Before those losses, the men’s national team had lost only two games in total out of 56 played since 1992.
Still, the United States remains the heavy favorite to win the tournament and collect the 16th gold medal in the program’s history.
CHULA VISTA, Calif. — The American men’s and women’s rugby sevens teams know something about momentum in sports. It’s a funny thing, because it can crystallize seemingly out of nowhere and vanish just as easily.
Both squads turned lackluster performances at the 2018 World Cup into fabulous 2019 campaigns, finishing second in the world, their highest rankings ever. They hoped that success would catapult them into medal contention at the Tokyo Games in 2020.
The coronavirus pandemic forced the teams to slam on the brakes. After more than a year with only a handful of matches during the global crisis, they will try to regain their magic at the Olympics on Monday, the first day of the rugby sevens tournament.
“Losing the 15 months has certainly hurt us in terms of momentum and the trajectory we were moving on,” Mike Friday, coach of the men’s team, said this month at the team’s training camp. “But we’re not alone. A lot of teams will feel undercooked going in. There’ll be a little bit of trepidation, anticipation, anxiety.”
At the Olympics this year, the men’s side has been drawn from the so-called group of death that includes a perennial powerhouse in South Africa, up-and-coming Ireland and a hard-hitting squad from Kenya.
Compounding matters, several of the American men’s team’s top players are coming back from injury, including team captain Madison Hughes and Folau Niua.
On paper, the women’s team has an easier path to a medal. It should beat China and Japan in the group stage, and perhaps knock off the Australians. In the knock out stage, Canada and New Zealand are among the toughest marks.
As the contingent of Olympic athletes from Italy entered Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium for the parade of nations on Friday, a South Korean broadcaster, MBC, aired a photo of a pizza.
For Norway? A piece of salmon.
Then there was Ukraine, which the broadcaster reminded viewers was where the Chernobyl nuclear disaster happened in 1986, complete with a photo of the doomed power station.
The images drew criticism from viewers, who said they were offensive or had perpetuated stereotypes, and MBC soon apologized for its choice of “inappropriate” photos.
“The images and captions are intended to make it easier for the viewers to understand the entering countries quickly during the opening ceremony,” MBC said in a statement in English, published Saturday on Twitter. “However, we admit there was a lack of consideration for the countries concerned, and inspection was not thorough enough. It is an inexcusable mistake.”
For Romania, the broadcaster had used an image of Count Dracula. And for the Marshall Islands, it had noted that it had once been a nuclear test site for the United States.
When it was Malaysia’s turn in the parade of nations, MBC showed a graphic with that country’s coronavirus vaccination rate, along with its gross domestic product.
In its statement, MBC said that it would investigate the process of how the images, and the captions that accompanied them, had been chosen and vetted.
“Furthermore, we will fundamentally re-examine the production system of sports programs to avoid any similar accidents in the future,” the broadcaster said.