When will Canada win its first medal?
Probably Saturday night or early Sunday morning — but possibly sooner
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Let the Games (officially) begin
A full year later than they were supposed to happen, with many people still wondering if they should happen, and with no fans allowed to watch them in person, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games finally, officially started today with the opening ceremony.
The show was pretty standard Olympic-ceremony stuff: self-serious, a bit confusing and, at times, pretty impressive-looking. Other than all the empty seats at Japan's Olympic Stadium, the biggest difference from ceremonies past was the sparse Parade of Nations. Only 30 of Canada's 370 athletes marched in. As previously announced, veteran women's basketball player Miranda Ayim and longtime men's rugby sevens team member Nathan Hirayama shared the role of Canadian flag-bearer. Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka lit the Olympic cauldron. Read more about the show, see photos and watch highlights here. You can watch a replay tonight at 7 p.m. ET on the CBC TV network.
There will be medals tonight — but when will Canada's first one arrive?
Now that the opening ceremony is behind us, we can get down to the actual sports. Competition began a few days ago (softball, soccer and rowing are among the sports already off and running) but the official Day 1 of competition starts Saturday morning in Japan — Friday night in Canadian time zones.
That means there will be medals tonight. The first ones of the Games will come in shooting and will be decided around 9:45 p.m. ET with the women's 10m air rifle final. By the time much of Canada rolls out of bed tomorrow morning, athletes will have also won medals in archery, cycling, fencing, judo, taekwondo and weightlifting before Day 1 wraps up around 10 a.m. ET or so.
Canada's best medal hope on Day 1 is cyclist Mike Woods. The 34-year-old from Ottawa is competing in the men's road race, which starts at 10 p.m. ET and typically takes about six hours to complete. Woods pulled out of this year's Tour de France, which ended on Sunday, after the 18th of 21 stages. But not before he briefly wore the polka-dot jersey as the leader of the so-called King of the Mountains sub-competition through stage 14. Woods finished 55th at the 2016 Olympics, but he won bronze in the road race at the 2018 world championships.
The favourite to win Olympic gold is Slovenia's Tadej Pogacar, though his tank might be empty after winning his second consecutive Tour De France title just a few days ago. The fact that Woods is fresher than a lot of riders after skipping the last few stages of the Tour could boost his podium chances. Read more about Woods here.
If Woods doesn't make the podium (still the more likely outcome), there's a good chance Canada's first medal arrives on Saturday night/early Sunday morning in Canadian time zones via a water-based sport. Swimmer Sydney Pickrem took bronze in the women's 400m individual medley at the 2017 world championships and should be in the Olympic final Saturday at 10:12 p.m. ET. The first swimming relay final of the Games, the women's 4x100m freestyle, goes at 10:45 p.m. ET. Canada took bronze in this event at the 2016 Olympics and the 2019 world championships, with Penny Oleksiak, Maggie Mac Neil, Kayla Sanchez and Taylor Ruck swimming the final at the latter.
If the swimmers fall short, Canada has an even stronger-looking podium chance a few hours later with the women's 3m synchronized diving final at 2 a.m. ET. Jennifer Abel and Mélissa Citrini-Beaulieu took silver at each of the last two world championships, in 2017 and '19.
A few more things happening tonight or tomorrow morning that you should know about:
Swimming gets started. Remember the 2008 Beijing Olympics, when NBC convinced the IOC to flip medal races to the morning local time so American viewers could watch Michael Phelps go for eight gold medals in primetime? Tokyo is in a similar time zone, so that's happening again (the network has this clout because the IOC earns three quarters of its revenue from broadcast rights, and half of that comes from NBC). The qualifying heats begin around 6 a.m. ET on Saturday. Canadian contenders in action include Maggie Mac Neil in the women's 100m butterfly (she's the reigning world champ), Sydney Pickrem in the women's 400 IM, and the women's 4x100m freestyle relay team. You can stream the heats live on CBC Gem, the CBC Olympics app and CBC Sports' Tokyo 2020 website, and they'll also be shown on the Olympic Games Morning show on CBC TV. We'll take a deeper look at the exciting Canadian swimming team and its medal chances in tomorrow's newsletter.
The Canadian women's soccer team returns to the field. Their 1-1 draw vs. host Japan in Wednesday's opener was a solid result, but still disappointing given Canada was minutes away from pulling off the upset before giving up the tying goal. It also may have been costly in that goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé suffered a rib injury when she took down a Japanese attacker early in the second half. Labbé stopped the ensuing penalty shot but soon left the match. She said she's "optimistic" about starting Saturday's match vs. Chile, which Canada is heavily favoured to win. If Labbé can't go, capable young backup Kailen Sheridan will step in again. Read more about Canada's outlook for the rest of the tournament here. Watch the match vs. Chile on Saturday at 3:30 a.m. ET on CBC TV, CBC Gem, the CBC Olympics app and CBC Sports' Tokyo 2020 website.
One of Canada's top gold-medal contenders hits the sand. The women's beach volleyball duo of Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes plays their first match tonight vs. a Dutch team. Pavan and Humana-Paredes are the reigning world champions and are currently ranked No. 2 in the world, behind Brazil's Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda "Duda" Lisboa. Read more about the Canadian pair and everything else you need to know about the Olympic beach volleyball events here. Watch Pavan and Humana-Paredes' opener at 11 p.m. ET on CBC TV, CBC Gem, the CBC Olympics app and CBC Sports' Tokyo 2020 website.
Two of Canada's tennis entries play their opening-round matches tonight. Leylah Annie Fernandez faces Ukraine's Dayana Yastremska in women's singles, while seventh-seeded Gabriela Dabrowski and Sharon Fichman take on Brazil's Luisa Stefani and Laura Pigossi. Both matches are at 10 p.m. ET. The other Canadian in the Olympics is men's No. 9 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime. His first-round opponent is Andy Murray — winner of the last two Olympic men's gold medals. Sounds tough, but the Great Britain player is now 34, hasn't been relevant on tour in quite some time and has fallen to 104th in the world rankings. Canada should also have an entry in the mixed doubles event, but the pairings for that don't come out until next week. The biggest stars in the singles events are Japan's Naomi Osaka, who lit the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony, and Novak Djokovic, who's trying to complete the so-called Golden Slam. If he takes gold, he'll join Steffi Graf as the only players to win all four singles majors and the Olympic title in the same year. Serena Williams, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal all bowed out of Tokyo. Read a full preview of the tennis events and Canada's medal chances here.
3x3 basketball makes its Olympic debut. Anyone who's played ball on the blacktop at their local park will recognize the core rules: halfcourt, take the ball out past the arc when you gain possession, baskets worth 1 or 2 points, first team to 21 wins. "From the Streets to the Olympics" is the marketing slogan from basketball's world governing body, which is going for a youthful, "urban" vibe with this version of the game. It's played outdoors, with a live DJ spinning hip hop and a style of play-by-play commentary you might recognize from those old And1 Mixtape Tours. The tournaments should be more competitive than the traditional ones, which the U.S. dominates. NBA stars weren't eligible because none of them have competed on the global 3x3 circuit, and the U.S. actually failed to qualify a men's team. It has a women's squad though, made up of WNBA players. Canada did not qualify a team in either tournament. Read and watch a full 3-on-3 explainer here. Games start at 9:15 p.m. ET tonight and you can stream them live on CBC Gem, the CBC Olympics app and CBC Sports' Tokyo 2020 website.
How to watch
A variety of live events are being broadcast on TV on CBC, TSN and Sportsnet. Or choose exactly what you want to watch by live streaming on CBC Gem, the CBC Olympics app and CBC Sports' Tokyo 2020 website. Check out the full streaming schedule here.
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