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Glittering gold distracts from Covid and scandals

Qian Yang of Team China wins the gold medal during the 10m Air Rifle Women’s event on day one of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Asaka Shooting Range on July 24, 2021 in Asaka, Saitama, Japan.

Kevin C. Cox | Getty Images Sport | Getty Images

Sport stretched out over Tokyo on Saturday as the Olympic Games finally got underway, but the shadow of Covid-19 and controversy was never far away on the opening day.

China fired an ominous warning as Yang Qian grabbed the Games’ first gold, the morning after Japan’s global superstar tennis player Naomi Osaka had lit the Olympic cauldron to officially open the pandemic-delayed extravaganza.

That moment had capped an opening ceremony shorn of glitz and staged in an eerily silent stadium.

But while the ceremony had been like none before, day one of sport offered a much more familiar feel.

Despite the absence of spectators, the world’s elite athletes ran, rode, fought and swam as a hankered-for business-as-usual vibe began to build.

The sight of an athlete, eyes glistening with joy, was always going to be a welcome one for organizers, and 21-year-old Chinese shooter Yang provided it, holding her nerve in the women’s 10-metre rifle competition to overhaul Anastasiia Galashina.

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