Anyone who has been to Japan can tell you it’s the vending machine capital of the world.
From food and drink to umbrellas and clothes, there’s a seemingly endless supply of options.
The Japanese Vending Machine Manufacturers Association estimates there are more than 5 million nationwide — or one for every 23 people.
So, it’s no surprise but still great fun to find the Olympic souvenir vending machines at the main press center. On offer are Olympic branded mugs, sunglasses, tote bags and traditional Daruma dolls that symbolize perseverance and luck.
They are such a hit that Japanese station Fuji TV are here filming people using them.
Australia’s Olympic Committee (AOC) has said “members” of the country’s Olympic track and field team are in isolation as a “precautionary measure” after a US athlete tested positive for Covid-19.
The AOC did not say how many members of the team were in isolation.
Athletics kicks off on Friday in Tokyo, with heats for the women’s 100-meters, women’s 800-meters and men’s 400-meter hurdles, among other events.
The AOC said the isolation was a “precautionary measure” and did not say how long the team members would be isolating for — or whether they could potentially miss their events.
The AOC did not name the US athlete that tested positive, but earlier on Thursday American men’s pole vaulter Sam Kendricks was ruled out of the Games after a positive test result, the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee announced.
“Members of the Australian track and field team are now undergoing testing procedures in line with Australian Olympic Team protocols,” the AOC added.
The sight of a jubilant Olympian standing atop the podium after being victorious in their discipline with a gold medal between their teeth is an iconic one.
We’ve seen it numerous times at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games already, across a host of disciplines.
The official Tokyo 2020 account even went as far on Sunday to try to remind people that the medals are not, in fact, edible.
“We just want to officially confirm that the #Tokyo2020 medals are not edible,” it said.
“Our medals are made from material recycled from electronic devices donated by the Japanese public. So, you don’t have to bite them … but we know you still will.”
But why do these victorious athletes decide to celebrate their coronation by pretending to take a bite out of their gold medals?
David Wallechinsky, Executive Committee Member of the International Society of Olympic Historians, told CNN in 2012 that it’s probably an attempt to satisfy the media.
“It’s become an obsession with the photographers,” says Wallechinsky, co-author of “The Complete Book of the Olympics.” “I think they look at it as an iconic shot, as something that you can probably sell. I don’t think it’s something the athletes would probably do on their own.”
The phenomenon is not exclusive to the Olympics though.
Tennis superstar Rafael Nadal has become famous for looking like he wants to take a chunk out of the trophies he wins, in particular the Coupe des Mousquetaires — the French Open men’s singles trophy — he’s become so acquainted with.
American swimmer Robert Finke, who goes by Bobby, says he “honestly did not expect to win at all,” after he clinched gold in the men’s 800-meter freestyle event on Thursday morning in Japan.
“Coming off the trials, I think I was like, 12th coming into the heat. So I was just trying to make it back to finals,” he said.
But he realized he chance to win when he saw that he had done better than his best time.
“That’s what really started it off for me, and I just tried to do my best to get my hand on the wall,” he said Thursday.
Finke said he is happy to have won for the US team and for his supporters at home, but when he goes back, his lifestyle will not change.
“My lifestyle now is what got me here, so I don’t see a need to change it. I’m just going to go relax with my family, celebrate with them, see all my friends and supporters back in Gainesville, and I’m just excited for the fall,” he added.
Following his Olympic gold and Olympic record in the men’s 100-meter freestyle, Team USA’s star swimmer Caeleb Dressel reflected on how hard things have been over the past year in an emotional interview.
“I don’t know if it’s set in yet. Right now, I’m just kinda hurting. But it’s been a really tough year. It’s really hard. So to have the results show up — it really came together. So I’m happy,” Dressel said.
Dressel won his first individual Olympic gold medal in the event with a time of 47.02 seconds.
Dressel’s remarks come with the spotlight firmly on athletes’ mental health at the Tokyo Games. US gymnast Simone Biles has spoken this week of the difficulties athletes face after she withdrew from some team and individual events.
Japanese table tennis players Mima Ito and Jun Mizutani have been subject to personal attacks on Chinese social media, after the pair narrowly defeated the Chinese team to win the first-ever gold medal in mixed doubles Monday.
Chinese microblogging site Weibo was inundated with posts insulting the Japanese players. Angry Chinese fans also descended on Ito’s Weibo account, flooding her old posts with thousands of abusive comments.
Some Chinese users who tried to call for an end to the online abuse were also attacked. Ito shut down her Weibo feed in the end.
On Wednesday, Mizutani said on Twitter that he had received a torrent of messages attacking him, without directly mentioning China.
“Got tons of DM from a country telling me to ‘Go to hell! P*ss off!’, but I’m totally ok as I’m used to such comments. I’m just happy that I got the whole word excited. All messages from Japanese are cheering me, thank you!” he wrote in the tweet, which was later deleted.
On Thursday, China’s Sun Yingsha beat Ito in the women’s singles semifinal, to the cheers of millions of Chinese fans online. The match was the top trending topic on Weibo throughout the morning, with several related hashtags attracting hundreds of millions of views.
China currently leads the overall medal table with 14 golds, with Japan in third — the hosts have claimed 13 golds so far. The United States is second.
The Chinese team swam to victory in the women’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay, breaking the world record with a time of 7:40.33.
Helping her team to gold was Zhang Yufei, who had just come from winning the women’s 200-meter butterfly, setting an Olympic record.
Katy Ledecky helped Team USA win silver with a time of 7:40.73, and the Australian team picked up bronze in 7:41.29.
The previous world record, set by Australia in 2019, was 7:41.50. All three teams swam faster than this today.
Expect another action-packed day in Tokyo on Thursday as Japan’s capital hosts Day 6 of the 2020 Games.
Here’s what you need to know:
Biles and “the twisties”: Focus continues to be on US gymnast Simone Biles, who dropped out of the women’s individual all-around competition to focus on her well-being. It’s unclear if she’ll compete in other events. Biles has been praised for her courage in putting her mental health first.
Conversation has now turned to “the twisties” and how fear affects the mental and physical health of gymnasts. When Biles pulled out, it meant her psychological state put her at significant physical risk.
“We have to protect our mind and our body, rather than just go out there and do what the world wants us to do,” Biles said.
Heat takes its toll: It’s forecast to be another sweltering day in the Japanese capital and athletes can expect similar heat and humidity for the next week. The hot weather is having an impact on Olympic athletes, particularly in the tennis. Organizers said Wednesday they are pushing back matches so they will begin later in the day.
It came after Spain’s Paula Badosa was forced to retire from her women’s singles quarterfinal match and left the court in a wheelchair due to heatstroke. And Russian Olympic Committee player Daniil Medvedev told the chair umpire that he could finish his men’s singles third-round match — but wanted to know whether the International Tennis Federation would take responsibility if he died.
Morning of firsts: Men’s individual golf got the ball rolling on Day 6. In rowing, Fintan McCarthy and Paul O’Donovan won Ireland’s first ever Olympic rowing gold in the men’s lightweight double sculls event. And New Zealand won its first gold medal of Tokyo 2020 with victory in the women’s pair rowing. Meanwhile, USA’s Bobby Finke took gold in the men’s 800-meter freestyle event in the pool — his first Olympics and a first for this event at the Games.
More medals were won and Olympic records set at the Aquatics Centre on Thursday morning in Tokyo. Here’s a rundown from Day 6:
- USA’s Caeleb Dressel won the men’s 100-meter freestyle final setting an Olympic record with a time of 47.02 seconds. Dressel beat Australia’s Kyle Chalmers and Russia’s Kliment Kolesnikov to win his first individual Olympic gold medal.
- Australia’s Izaac Stubblety-Cook won gold in the men’s 200-meter breaststroke, also setting an Olympic record with a time of 2:06.38. Arno Kamminga of the Netherlands won silver while Finland’s Matti Mattsson earned his country’s first medal of the 2020 Olympics, winning bronze.
- China’s Zhang Yufei won gold in the women’s 200-meter butterfly, setting an Olympic record and beating Americans Regan Smith and Hali Flickinger with a time of 2:03.86.
- American Bobby Finke won gold in the men’s 800-meter freestyle event — the first ever at the Olympics — with a time of 7:41.87. Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri took silver and Ukraine’s Mykhailo Romanchuk won bronze.