Tokyo sizzled and tempers boiled over on Sunday as the Olympic Games lurched into another drama when organisers said they were investigating an incident of athletes drinking together at the Village.
As the thermometer touched 40 degrees at the athletics stadium, Australia’s Emma McKeon painted the pool gold, becoming the first female swimmer to win seven medals at a single Olympic Games but the Simone Biles saga took another sad twist as she pulled out of yet another event.
Fury exploded at the boxing venue where super heavyweight Mourad Aliev went into meltdown.
The Frenchman flew into a rage when he was disqualified for a perceived headbutt, spitting out his mouthguard and kicking at it, punching at a TV camera and making offensive arm gestures.
“It’s totally unfair – I was winning the match,” the 26-year-old told a throng of reporters after finally abandoning an hour-long sit-down protest at the Kokugikan arena. “I prepared my whole life for this event, so getting mad for something like that is natural,” he added.
With these Games being staged in a COVID-induced state of emergency, there has been much focus on the behaviour of those involved in the Olympics, and public anger at rule-breaking.
Police had attended the scene following reports of the forbidden drinking, which had involved multiple athletes and others, Director General for the Games Toshiro Muto told reporters.
Organisers had previously said athletes were permitted to drink alcohol only in their rooms and only if they are alone, as a precaution against the virus – a world away from earlier Games where many athletes celebrated long and hard after their events.
Unlike the strict COVID-19 lockdowns seen elsewhere, Tokyo is under a looser state of emergency that includes curbs on restaurant hours and the serving of alcohol.
It is largely reliant on self-enforcement, however, and authorities can’t order people off the streets. On Saturday large crowds had assembled to catch a glimpse of the triathlon competition as officials with placards and bullhorns asked them to disperse.
McKEON, DRESSEL IN BIG SPLASH
McKeon rewrote the record books at the pool after winning gold in the women’s 4×100 medley relay and completing the sprint double with victory in the 50m freestyle.
The feat saw McKeon join Michael Phelps, Mark Spitz and Matt Biondi as the only swimmers with seven medals at a Games. Russian gymnast Maria Gorokhovskaya, in 1952, is the only woman to have won seven in any other sport.
“It still feels pretty surreal. I never thought I would win two golds in one session … I’m very proud of myself,” she said.
Caeleb Dressel confirmed his dominance in men’s sprint swimming, powering to victory in the 50 free. The American added to his 100 gold, clinching a fifth medal of the Games as Team USA triumphed in the men’s medley relay.
The U.S. ended with 11 gold medals, five fewer than in Rio and London. Australia won nine, their most swimming golds at a Games, and Britain left with four golds as part of a record haul of eight total medals.
Biles pulled out of the final of the floor event and will decide later this week if she will compete in the one remaining event she is qualified for.
These Games were to have been a stage for her to cement her status as the world’s best-ever gymnast and become the most decorated female Olympian.
Instead she has performed just one single vault and has remained on the sidelines to focus on her mental health.
“Either way, we’re all behind you, Simone,” USA Gymnastics said in announcing her decision to not compete on the floor.
China lead the medals table with 23 golds with the U.S. behind on 20, and Japan third with 17.
American Xander Schauffele steadied after a late wobble to clinch gold for the United States at the Olympic golf with a one-stroke victory as Rory Sabbatini claimed an unlikely silver for adopted nation Slovakia. Home hero Hideki Matsuyama and Irishman Rory McIlroy were among a group of seven to play off for the bronze medal at Kasumigaseki Country Club.
The men’s 100m resumes later on Sunday with the semi-finals and final. A new winner will be crowned after the retirement of triple champion Usain Bolt.
The United States look well-placed to take gold for the first time since 2004 but it is the most open-looking race for many years, illustrated by pre-Games favourite Trayvon Bromell getting through Saturday’s heats only as a fast loser.