Live Olympics Updates: Naomi Osaka Is Eliminated, Italo Ferreira Wins Surfing Gold

Current time in Tokyo: July 27, 5:00 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:

Naomi Osaka after her loss to Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic on Tuesday.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Naomi Osaka, the Japanese superstar who lit the cauldron during the Olympic opening ceremony, was eliminated in the third round of the women’s singles tennis tournament on Tuesday in straight sets.

Osaka lost, 6-1, 6-4, to Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic in barely over one hour in a stunning upset of the host country’s biggest sports celebrity. The defeat ended Osaka’s run at the Tokyo Games.

Osaka breezed through her first two matches, the first competition she has faced since dropping out of the French Open in June to deal with mental health issues.

On Tuesday, however, Osaka struggled from the outset. For long stretches of the first set, Osaka battled to keep the ball in play. She committed 20 errors in the set, 14 of them unforced, and while she did not double-fault, she also could not rely on her serve to take control of the match the way she usually does.

The loss stunned the handful of people in attendance at Ariake Tennis Center, where a phalanx of Japanese photographers lined the court. Osaka, the No. 2 player in the world, was a favorite to win the tournament on home soil, especially after Ashleigh Barty, the world No. 1, was eliminated in the first round and other top players lost in Round 2.

Osaka, who dropped out of the French Open over a dispute with tournament officials over whether she should have to attend mandatory news conferences following her matches, made a brief visit to the players lounge after the match, then left the grounds before returning later to speak with the press.

Because Osaka lit the Olympic cauldron late Friday night in the climax of the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Games, her opening match was moved from Saturday morning to Sunday. As a result, Osaka was playing for a third consecutive day.

Osaka said the pressure of being the face of the event probably played a role in the loss but did not want to use it as an excuse.

“I should be used to it by now, but the scale of everything is a bit hard because of the break that I took,” she said. “I’m glad I did not lose in the first round, at least.”

Osaka battled to find her rhythm in the second set, which was much tighter than the first. She nearly matched Vondrousova on points and even managed to break Vondrousova’s serve, but the young Czech played with a cool beyond her 22 years, given the magnitude of the moment. She neutralized Osaka’s power with a series of spins and slices that never allowed Osaka to get comfortable.

“This is one of the biggest matches of my career,” Vondrousova said. “Naomi is the greatest now. She was also the face of the Olympics, so it was also tough for her to play like this.”

Vondrousova said she benefited from the timing and location of the match. She and Osaka played second on center court, and with a roof in place on Tuesday, they did not have to worry about weather delays.

When it was over, she and Osaka had a brief exchange at the net, with Osaka telling her “good match” and Vondrousova thanking her for the compliment.

“I am really sorry but I am so happy with my game today,” Vondrousova said. “She has a lot of pressure playing in Japan and at the Olympics. I knew she was going to fight to the end. The end was very tight. It could have gone both ways. It’s so much pressure I can’t imagine.”

Olympic tennis has been a tough nut to crack for even some of the game’s greatest players, requiring six match wins in just eight days. Roger Federer has never won the gold medal.

Osaka arrived after causing upheaval in the tennis world, and intensified the discussion around athletes and mental health, when she withdrew from the French Open and skipped Wimbledon as well after her refusal to endure what she called the stress of mandatory news conferences at tennis events, especially at Grand Slam tournaments.

She revealed that she has struggled with depression since 2018, and said she is uncomfortable in the sometimes adversarial public setting of news conferences. She quit the French Open after organizers threatened to disqualify her if she did not meet her press obligations.

To the public, it was unclear for a while when Osaka would play again, even with the Olympics coming. Few knew that she had been asked in March to light the Olympic flame, and that skipping the tournament was extremely unlikely given the magnitude of that honor.

So in mid-June, she announced that she would skip Wimbledon, which is contested on grass, but would return to competition at the Tokyo Games.

Born in Japan, she chose to represent the country in international competition in 2019. Osaka’s mother is Japanese and her father is Haitian. She was raised largely in the United States. The Olympic tournament is also played on a hard court, the surface on which Osaka has had the most success.

On Friday night, she joined a short list of illustrious Olympic flame lighters, including Muhammad Ali and Wayne Gretzky. Two days later she was still absorbing the experience and adjusting to life as the face of Olympic stardom.

“I feel a little bit out of my body right now,” Osaka said on Sunday, minutes after winning her first-round match.

Osaka will now likely head to North America for the hard-court swing of the professional tennis tour that climaxes with the United States Open in late summer. She is the defending U.S. Open champion and will be looking for her fifth Grand Slam singles title.

Despite her loss on Tuesday, Osaka said: “All in all, really happy with my first Olympic experience.”

Italo Ferreira won the first ever surfing gold medal at the Olympics.
Credit…Francisco Seco/Associated Press

ICHINOMIYA, Japan — Surprisingly bold conditions created by a tropical storm turned the inaugural Olympic surfing contest into an unpredictable and sometimes spectacular affair of churning whitewater.

And through the foam rode Italo Ferreira, 27, the 2019 world champion, one of Brazil’s army of surfing superstars. He beat Japan’s Kanoa Igarashi, a Japanese-American born and raised in Southern California. .

In the first minute of the men’s final, Ferreira was swallowed by a wave. The first thing that popped to the surface was half of his broken board. A fresh board was given to him on the beach, and Ferreira was soon riding to a pair of scores that gave him a lead he never relinquished.

Carissa Moore, 28, the four-time world champion born and raised in Hawaii, will soon underdog Bianca Buitendag of South Africa in the day’s last heat.

Igarashi, 23, had already knocked out one Brazilian superstar, Gabriel Medina, in the semifinal. With a 360-degree air with just seven minutes left in the 30-minute heat, Igarashi earned 9.33 points, one of the highest-scoring waves of the Games.

“The ride was probably about seven seconds long, but it felt like 70 minutes long,” Igarashi said immediately afterward. “I felt every single little moment. I felt my heartbeat, I felt my hair in the wind, I felt being in the air. And I had thoughts while I was in the air. It was kind of surreal, but as soon as I landed it I knew it was one of the biggest moments of my career.”

It ensured him at least a silver medal.

Owen Wright of Australia beat Medina in the men’s bronze-medal match. Amuro Tsuzuki of Japan, who grew up riding waves on the surrounding coast, beat Caroline Marks of the United States to win bronze for the women.

Credit…Lisi Niesner/Reuters

The sudden decision to squeeze so much surfing into one day was made on Monday night, as the storm churned off the east coast of central Japan, sending swells toward Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach. Surfing’s unique schedule, or lack of one, originally had the contest ending no sooner than Wednesday, but it was determined that the wildest waves were coming a day early.

So two of the world’s best surfers, Igarashi and Kolohe Andino of the United States, set out in the rain and wind at 7 a.m. for a high-level quarterfinal. It was a bit like surfing in a washing machine, as the sloppy storm surf made for difficult conditions for the competitors and a bit of a spectacle for those watching. Igarashi advanced, spoiling Andino’s medal hopes.

But clean rides were sporadic. For most of the morning, the sea was more a roiling stew than a series of sets, better to look at than to surf.

“The waves go really fast, and then they just dump,” Moore said after a quarterfinal victory. “It’s kind of tricky to place your maneuvers in this kind of surf.”

When Marks won her quarterfinal, knowing there would be two more matches to surf, she rushed out of the water to take the measure of the changing conditions.

Adapting was key; she had warmed up on one board, then competed on another. The tide was low but coming back, and the action was shifting north along the quarter-mile beach. There was a lot of paddling, and fatigue was a factor at the end of a long day.

“I’m having so much fun,” Marks said. “I’m here because I love surfing, and this is so rad.”

Lydia Jacoby is the first Alaskan to compete and win gold in Olympic swimming.
Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

TOKYO — As expected, an American woman was edging ahead in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke on Tuesday morning.

But the American was not named Lilly King, the defending Olympic champion and world-record holder. Instead, in the race of her life, Lydia Jacoby, a 17-year-old Alaskan, tapped the wall first and then gazed toward the scoreboard at the Tokyo Aquatics Center. It took her a nanosecond to register the result.

“Insane,” she said.

Swimming has delivered surprises at the Tokyo Games, and Jacoby’s gold medal performance ranked among the most shocking so far. The first Alaskan to compete in Olympic swimming, she trains with her local club, the Seward Tsunami Swim Club, which is not to be confused with the usual powerhouse programs from California and Texas.

On Tuesday, against the very best in the world, Jacoby proved that geography did not seem to matter that much at all.

“I think that me coming from a small club and a state with such a small population just shows everyone that you can do it no matter where you’re from,” said Jacoby, who will be a senior in high school this fall.

Classmates and friends cheered her on from afar at watch parties in Seward — and went bonkers when she chased down Tatjana Schoenmaker of South Africa in the closing meters. (The videos went viral within minutes.)

King, 24, claimed the bronze — an anticlimactic result for one of the sport’s most outspoken personalities. Despite having aimed to become the first woman to win two gold medals in the event, she said she was pleased with her race.

“And so excited for Lydia,” said King, who had not lost a race in the 100-meter breaststroke since 2015. “I love to see the future of American breaststroke coming up like this and to have somebody to go at it head-to-head when we’re in the country.”

Another relative upset played out in the men’s 100-meter backstroke, an event that Americans had won at every Olympics since 1996. But Ryan Murphy, the defending Olympic champion, got off to a slow start and finished third behind a pair of Russians, Evgeny Rylov and Kliment Kolesnikov.

Murphy said he was not disappointed.

“That was my best swim of the year, so it’s nice to be able to do that in the pressure-packed final,” he said, adding: “Shoot for the stars, land on the moon. That’s kind of what it is. Winning an Olympic gold means you’re the best in the world. Being third in the world is no slouch.”

King had made waves at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro for engaging in a personal rivalry with Yuliya Efimova of Russia, a six-time world champion. Ahead of Rio, Efimova had served a 16-month suspension for doping, then was allowed to compete despite failing another drug test.

King was highly critical of that decision. After outswimming Efimova in the Olympic final, King splashed water in Efimova’s lane. (King later said it was unintentional.)

Yet in the run-up to the Tokyo Games, King continued to be outspoken about cheating, expressing concern about spotty drug-testing protocols during the pandemic.

On Tuesday, there was no apparent controversy — only good vibes. King was finishing up her interviews in the media area when Jacoby arrived.

“Off to you, kiddo,” King told her. “No international incidents today.”

Swimming: Women’s 100m Breaststroke Final

Ryan Murphy, center, won bronze in the 100-meter backstroke on Tuesday.
Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

In a stunning upset, Ryan Murphy of the United States settled for bronze in the men’s 100-meter backstroke. American men had not lost in the event since 1992, and Murphy was the defending Olympic champion. The Russians Evgeny Rylov and Kliment Kolesnikov finished first and second.

British swimmers dominated the men’s 200-meter freestyle as Tom Dean won gold and Duncan Scott won silver. Kieran Smith of the United States, the bronze medalist in the 400-meter freestyle, got off to a slow start and could not recover, finishing sixth. He had entered the final with the second-fastest time in the semifinals.

The women’s 100-meter backstroke was a scorcher. Kaylee McKeown of Australia won gold in an Olympic record of 57.47 seconds. Kylie Masse of Canada took silver, and Regan Smith of the United States, who had set an Olympic record in the semifinals, won bronze.

South Africa's Siviwe Soyizwapi gets tackled by Carlin Isles of the United States, in their men's rugby sevens match.
Credit…Shuji Kajiyama/Associated Press

The U.S. men’s rugby sevens team lost the third and last game of the group stage to South Africa, 17-12.

But the Americans had their sights on something bigger: Great Britain in the quarterfinals.

The U.S. squad had already earned a spot in the quarterfinals because of wins against Kenya and Ireland on Monday in the so-called group of death, so the game against South Africa was more of a tuneup.

“It’s bittersweet,” said Danny Barrett, an American prop. “You hate to lose a game, but in a tournament like this, you don’t have to be perfect to win, especially to win a gold medal. For us, all we wanted to ever do was give ourselves a chance, and we did that on day one.”

The Americans qualified for the knockout stage after falling short by just one point in 2016 at the Rio Games, the first to include rugby sevens.

With South Africa having also qualified for the quarterfinals, the match on Tuesday only determined opponents in the next round. (South Africa will face Argentina.)

The Americans started fast with a sustained drive that ended when Joe Schroeder scored a try about two minutes into the match. They seemed poised to score again after a breakaway by Danny Barrett. But the South Africans recovered an errant pass and scored a try to notch the score, 5-5, at halftime.

The South Africans, who won the bronze medal at the Rio Games, controlled much of the pace in the second half, scoring 12 unanswered points to build a 17-5 lead. Brett Thompson scored a try with a minute to go, and Madison Hughes added a conversion to finish the scoring.

After the loss, American players said they were preparing for a bigger test. Perry Baker, a winger and two-time World Rugby Sevens player of the year, said that winning a medal would mean “everything and even more, because we thought we had that chance in 2016 and we let it slip away.”

Flora Duffy of Bermuda won the triathlon by more than a minute.
Credit…Hannah Mckay/Reuters

In a sport where transitions are everything, Flora Duffy is the best of the best.

Duffy, 33, one of two athletes representing Bermuda, took home gold in the women’s triathlon event, completing the 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike ride and 10-kilometer run in 1 hour 55 minutes 36 seconds. She crossed the finish line by herself, more than a minute before Georgia Taylor-Brown of Britain and Katie Zaferes of the United States finished, and greeted her competitors with open arms.

It was the first gold medal for Bermuda at the Olympic Games, and only the second medal in the country’s history. A bronze medal went to the boxer Clarence Hill at the 1976 Games in Montreal.



















Taylor-Brown fell to fifth place after the bicycle portion because of a flat tire and lost about 15 seconds on the lead group. She told the BBC that “the first lap of the run was panic mode.”

Duffy was two seconds behind Zaferes coming out of the swim transition, and once off their bikes, Duffy and Zaferes were neck and neck. But it was Duffy’s fluidity through the run that saw her across the finish line first.

Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

Duffy is the only person to win three triathlon world titles in the same year, capturing the World Triathlon championship race, the Xterra world championships and the ITU Cross world championships in 2016. She came in eighth place in the 2016 Olympic Games. In 2018 she collected the gold medal in the Commonwealth Games.

In an interview earlier this year, Duffy said heat, humidity and water temperature would be the biggest variables. And her prediction proved correct, as athletes battled 80-degree temperatures and 90 percent humidity and wet conditions — the race was delayed by 15 minutes because of heavy rains.

Duffy, who lives and trains in Boulder, Colo., began competing in triathlon when she was 7. Her weekly training regimen includes six swims, six bike rides and four to six runs.

Congratulations came in from around the tiny island nation.

“You’ve worked so hard and you’ve made an entire island proud,” tweeted the premier of Bermuda, David Burt.

On Monday, Kristian Blummenfelt of Norway took home gold in the men’s triathlon. Blummenfelt, who was in fifth place after the swim and bicycle portions, finished in 1:45:04.

Simone Biles leaping into a vault during the women’s team gymnastics qualifying round on Sunday.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

TOKYO — Simone Biles admitted it: She’s feeling stressed about these Olympics. And it didn’t help when the U.S. team finished second to Russia in Sunday’s qualification.

“I truly do feel that I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times,” Biles wrote on Facebook after the qualifying event, which determined the countries participating in the final on Tuesday night. She said she tries to brush off the pressure, but “sometimes it’s hard.”

The U.S. team has dominated the sport for more than a decade, winning world championships and Olympics by wide margins nearly every time. So when the squad finished more than a point behind Russia in qualifying, it was thrust into unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory going into the team final on Tuesday night. The bright side for the Americans is that the scores from qualifying will not carry over, so they will have a chance to rebound.

Tom Forster, the U.S. women’s national team coordinator, said the team’s performances during qualifying “might be a great awakening for us, and we’ll take advantage of it.” It’s time to see if that prediction proves true.

Biles, the best gymnast in history, hopes to clean up the mistakes in her routines and carry her team to its third straight Olympic team gold medal.

In qualifying, she stepped so far out of bounds during her floor exercise that she slipped entirely off the competition surface. The landing on her first vault was so crooked that she also stepped off the mat. After stumbling out of her balance beam dismount, she frowned and looked stunned by what had just unfolded.

Her teammates also could have done much better. Jordan Chiles, in particular, performed nothing like she had all year. Going into the Olympics, no one had been as consistent, but on qualifying day Chiles stumbled, including falling off the balance beam.

If the Americans are able to snap back to top form and win tonight, they will live up to the towering expectations placed on a team that has succeeded for what seems like forever.

If not, it might be, in Forster’s words, another “great awakening.”

Workers prepare a track for competition during rainy weather at Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo on Tuesday.
Credit…Hannah Mckay/Reuters

TOKYO — The Summer Olympics have already been hampered by a pandemic and sweltering heat. Starting on Tuesday, athletes and organizers also have had to deal with strong winds and heavy rain, with a tropical storm expected to make landfall north of Tokyo in the afternoon.

The storm will most likely avoid a direct hit on the capital, but the winds and waves on the periphery of the storm are already upsetting Olympic plans in and around the city.

Contest organizers took advantage of the swell and jammed surfing’s quarterfinals, semifinals and medal matches into one busy day. Rowing and archery were also delayed. Otherwise, events are expected to proceed as planned, orgaznizers said.

A forecast by the Japan Meteorological Agency called for about six inches of rain over a 24-hour period through Wednesday morning, with winds reaching speeds of up to about 45 miles per hour.

Officials had previously forecast a typhoon. Hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones are essentially the same storm. They are all circular storms that form over warm water, with very low air pressure at the center, and winds greater than 74 miles an hour — but what they are called depends on where they form.

“Hurricane” is used to refer to storms that form in the North Atlantic, the northeastern Pacific, the Caribbean Sea or the Gulf of Mexico, whereas “typhoon” is used for storms that develop in the northwestern Pacific and usually threaten Asia. “Cyclone” refers to storms in the South Pacific and in the Indian Ocean.

The forecast is not all bad news, however. Competitors in the surfing event said the storm surge had already stoked bigger waves. And some athletes even welcomed the challenge, like Haley Batten, an American who is scheduled to compete on Tuesday on a mountain biking course on the Izu Peninsula, southwest of Tokyo.

“It definitely makes the event even more exciting,” she told reporters on Sunday. “So I’m just embracing the chaos.”

The U.S. will face Japan in the softball gold medal game.
Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Here are some highlights of U.S. broadcast coverage on Tuesday morning, including women’s gymnastics, women’s soccer and softball medal games. All times are Eastern.

SOCCER The U.S. women’s team takes on Australia, starting at 4 a.m. on USA Network, for its third match of the Games. After losing to Sweden and winning against New Zealand, the team needs to either draw or win to advance to the quarterfinals.

RUGBY Quarterfinal action in men’s rugby sevens, including the U.S. team playing Great Britain and New Zealand taking on Canada, begins at 4:30 a.m. on NBC SN.

SWIMMING Heats in the men’s 100-meter freestyle and the women’s 200-meter butterfly will be among the races broadcast starting at 6 a.m. on USA.

GYMNASTICS Simone Biles and the U.S. women’s team, and the U.S. men’s team, will compete in the team finals beginning at 6:45 a.m. on Peacock, NBC’s streaming platform.

SOFTBALL The softball tournament comes to an end with the gold medal game at 7 a.m. between the U.S. and Japan on NBC Sports Network. The U.S. lost to Japan in the 2008 final, the last time the sport was in the Olympics.

Fijian 7 dollar banknote commemorating Rugby 7 Gold medal win at the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics, Fiji, South Pacific.
Credit…Juergen Hasenkopf/Alamy Stock

How does a small country in the South Pacific celebrate a first-ever Olympic gold medal?

It prints a seven-dollar bill, of course.

After Fiji, population 900,000, won the rugby sevens competition at the 2016 Rio Games, its first Olympic medal of any kind, it was decided that some celebratory currency would be in order.

Bruce Southwick, a Fijian photographer and cinematographer, was approached by the country’s reserve bank for permission to use some of his photos of the team on a new five-dollar bill. But given that the sport was rugby sevens, with seven players per team playing seven-minute halves, Southwick suggested, “Why don’t we make a seven-dollar note?”

The bank liked the idea, and two million seven-dollar notes were printed. The front features Southwick’s photo of the team captain, Osea Kolinisau, and the back is the full team after it won the gold.

Credit…Juergen Hasenkopf/Alamy Stock

The bills, each worth about $3.40, are legal tender and can be used to buy anything from Fiji kokoda, a ceviche that is the national dish, or a flowered bula shirt.

While they do occasionally turn up in change at supermarkets, many of the bills have been hoarded, and they are often considered good luck.

It is hard to overestimate rugby’s importance to Fiji. “Sevens is the only thing we are world beaters in, apart from beaches and relaxation,” said Southwick, who was a cinematographer on “Sevens from Heaven,” a documentary about the team.

“It’s something that has always gripped the nation. In Fiji, everybody from grandmas down to little babies are obsessed by the game.”

Fiji has advanced to the quarterfinals at the Tokyo Games after going three-for-three in pool play.

And if they repeat as gold medalists? Maybe it will be time for a 14-dollar note.

An Olympic staff member handing out masks to swimmers as they exit the pool at the Tokyo Aquatics Center.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Tokyo Olympics organizers said on Tuesday that seven more people had tested positive for the coronavirus, including two athletes whose names were not immediately disclosed.

That brought to 160 the total number of people connected to the Olympics who have tested positive for the virus. They include 21 athletes, although not all of their names have been released publicly.

The number of new cases among Olympics personnel was the lowest in nearly a week, but cases among the general public in Japan have continued to rise sharply during the Games.

More than 4,500 cases have been recorded daily over the past week in Japan, an increase of 120 percent from the average two weeks ago, according to New York Times data.

Athletes who have tested positive for the coronavirus

Scientists say that positive tests are expected with daily testing programs, even among the vaccinated. Little information on severity has been released, though public reports suggest that cases among athletes have generally been mild or asymptomatic. Some athletes who have tested positive have not been publicly identified.

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Hidilyn Diaz after winning gold, and setting two records, in the women’s 55 kilogram division on Monday.
Credit…Jeon Heon-Kyun/EPA, via Shutterstock

TOKYO — Until Monday, the Philippines, a sports-mad country of nearly 110 million people, had never won an Olympic gold medal.

But Hidilyn Diaz, a weight lifter at her fourth Olympics, finally broke the Philippines’ nearly century-long drought by capturing a gold in the women’s 55 kilogram division, achieving two Olympic records in the process.

“It’s unbelievable,” she said, caressing the gold medal hanging on her neck. “I expected to win, but when you hold this already, it’s like, Wow, I never thought this would happen today.”

Diaz, 30, said that her record-breaking 127 kilogram lift in the clean and jerk event was the first time she had successfully hefted that much weight. In training, she had maxed out at 125 kilograms, she said.

She also claimed another Olympic record for the total of her two best lifts, one in the snatch and the other in the clean and jerk.

The finale of the 55 kilogram competition provided high drama in a sport that can sometimes feel preordained, given the dominance of a Chinese squad that was expected to prevail in all four weight classes it was contesting in Tokyo.

Diaz, a silver medalist at the 2016 Rio Olympics, went into the competition hoping to win a medal but the gold seemed like it was the preserve of Liao Qiuyun, the Chinese reigning Asia champion. In the most recent Asia championships, Diaz, who is 4 feet 11 inches, had come in fourth.

But as the other top contenders approached the barbells grim-faced on Monday, Diaz kept smiling. On the final lift, the top three competitors and their coaches scrambled to decide what weight they should call. Too light, and they might be outpaced. Too heavy, and they might not make the lift.

For her last turn, the Chinese competitor cleared 126 kilograms, an Olympic record, with barely a hint of discomfort. To win, Diaz would have to surpass what she had done before — by two kilograms. She pulled the bar to her clavicle, then staggered for a moment as she thrust the barbells into the sky. One Mississippi, two Mississippi.

The gold was hers.

The second youngest of six siblings, Diaz grew up in the southern Philippine city of Zamboanga, a place intermittently seized by sectarian conflict. Her family was poor, and she tried weight lifting as an 11-year-old, tagging along with the older boys of her family.

It turned out she could lift more than the boys. She started out with pieces of wood, then jeep wheel protectors, then blocks of cement.

She eventually was recruited to the Philippine national team, but when sports officials mentioned the 2008 Beijing Olympics to her, she didn’t know what the Games were, she said. As a 17-year-old at those Games, she was the youngest female weight lifter in competition.

In 2012, Diaz sustained an injury that left her mentally and physically drained, she said. Quitting weight lifting, though, didn’t seem an option.

“It was just survival,” she said. “I’m the breadwinner in my family.”

But the fun eventually returned, and Diaz won a silver in Rio. Desperate for a gold medal, the Philippine sporting establishment convinced her not to retire before Tokyo.

The Philippines is crazy for sports. During the years of American colonization, the Y.M.C.A. introduced a new sport played with a ball and fruit baskets. Today, basketball is ubiquitous across the archipelago. Boxing is popular, too, especially after Manny Pacquiao, the longtime champion turned politician, burst onto the scene.

Since the early days of the pandemic, Diaz has been training in Malaysia, staying away from the Philippines, where cases proliferated despite a strict lockdown.

At the Asian championship in Uzbekistan in April, Diaz held back, said Monico Puentevella, a veteran politician who has also served as the head of the national weight lifting federation and the Philippine Olympic Committee. She settled for fourth. The idea was to lull the Chinese into thinking that Diaz had reached her full potential, he said. The ploy seemed to have worked.

“I have been dreaming of this gold medal for so many years,” Puentevella, 75, said. “Now that she’s won, I can die happy.”

Denis Ablyazin competes on the gold medal-winning R.O.C. men’s gymnastics team.
Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

For a country officially barred from the Olympics, Russia is very much a presence at this summer’s Tokyo Games.

Take Friday’s opening ceremony. A significant Russian delegation marched in the parade of nations — right behind San Marino and just ahead of Sierra Leone — under the banner of R.O.C., the acronym for the Russian Olympic Committee. That is the official label under which more than 330 Russian athletes are competing here, a bit of disciplinary sleight of hand required by punishments imposed after the country’s recent doping scandals.

In the days since marching proudly into the Olympic Stadium in central Tokyo, Russian athletes in Russia’s national colors have competed in dozens of sports, from archery to diving, fencing to gymnastics, tennis to taekwondo. On Sunday, Russia even collected its first gold. Twenty-four hours later, it picked up two more.

“Actually,” one Russian journalist admitted this week, “it does not feel like we are banned.”

The penalties are real, though, and have roots in one of the worst doping scandals in sports history: a yearslong campaign to swap dirty doping samples for clean ones — and then cover it up — that eventually touched dozens of sports and involved more than 1,000 athletes, dozens of coaches and sports officials and even members of the country’s state security services.