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Tokyo 2020: Only 30 British athletes likely to attend opening ceremony

Tokyo 2020: Only 30 British athletes likely to attend opening ceremony
© Reuters
Upwards of 200 British athletes are currently resident in the Olympic Village.

Only 30 Team GB athletes are expected to march in the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics on Friday as coronavirus fears continue to cause frayed nerves in the Japanese capital.

On the day that a Chilean taekwondo player and a Dutch skateboarder became the first participants to be ruled out of the Games due to positive tests, the numbers willing to leave the relative security of the Olympic Village continue to dwindle.

Upwards of 200 British athletes are currently resident in the Village, and while many prefer not to attend the ceremony due to early competition schedules, the PA news agency understands that others have made the decision due to Covid concerns.

Flags and banners hang from Great Britain team apartments in the Olympic Village
Flags and banners hang from Great Britain team apartments in the Olympic Village (Charlie Riedel/AP)

The development leaves a dwindling pool of those eligible to carry the British flag at the ceremony. Two athletes – one male and one female – will be selected for the joint honour by the British Olympic Association on Thursday.

Fewer than 1,000 VIPs will be present for the ceremony at the 68,000 capacity Tokyo Olympic Stadium, with a string of heads of major corporations such as Toyota and Panasonic announcing publicly that would withdraw, citing concerns over the public perception of the Games.

Japanese media have reported that Emperor Naruhito will be present at the Games, but will pointedly refrain from using the word "celebrate". The imperial family is not expected to attend events once the Games get fully under way on Saturday.

Andy Murray lead Team GB at the 2016 opening ceremony in Tokyo
Andy Murray lead Team GB at the 2016 opening ceremony in Tokyo (Martin Rickett/PA)

The stripped-back ceremony has been hit by a series of controversies, with its original director Hiroshi Sasaki forced to quit in March after proposing plus-size model Naomi Watanabe come down from the sky dressed in a pig costume.

This week, Keigo Oyamada, the composer for the ceremony, was also forced to resign after admitting making public comments about having previously abused disabled class-mates.

Seiko Hashimoto, president of Tokyo 2020 organising committee, said: "This issue has hurt so many people and I have to offer my apology to those people for the fact that an appropriate and prompt response was delayed. This is something that I've got to apologise for to all people."

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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
JapanJapan124521
ChinaChina115824
United StatesUnited States1011930
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia78520
AustraliaAustralia61916
Great BritainGreat Britain56516
Today's Olympic highlights header

Thursday's key events


ROWING
· Comeback queen and super-mum Helen Glover goes for her third Olympic gold alongside Polly Swann in the women's pair final (1.30am)
· There is also a medal on offer for GB pair Emily Craig and Imogen Grant in the lightweight women's double scull final (2.10am)

SWIMMING
· As second-fastest qualifier for the final, Team GB's James Wilby is among the medal contenders in the men's 200m breaststroke (2.44am)
· Alys Thomas takes part in the women's 200m butterfly final, although he faces a difficult task to challenge for the medals (3.28am)
· Caeleb Dressel of the USA has been touted by some as the successor to Michael Phelps, and he has the chance to notch up a fourth Olympic gold in the men's 100m freestyle final (3.37am)

RUGBY SEVENS
· After Team GB's men narrowly missed out on a medal, the women get their campaign underway against the Russian Olympic Committee (3am) and New Zealand (10.30am)

HOCKEY
· It is a Great Britain vs. Netherlands double-header, with the men up first in Pool B (4.15am)
· Most eyes will be on the women's showdown between the two nations, though, as Netherlands - the world's best team - look to gain revenge on GB for defeat in the 2016 Olympic final (11am)

CANOE SLALOM
· Mallory Franklin takes part in the women's canoe semi-final, and will hope to do enough to qualify for the final later in the day (6am-8.45am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· With Simone Biles now out of the women's all-around final, the competition has been blown wide open. Team GB twins Jessica and Jennifer Gadirova are among those taking part (11.50am-2.05pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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