• Jill Biden brings a dose of normalcy to Olympic Games amid a pandemic • See Tokyo 2020 Olympics from above
Published: 2021-07-25 10:48 pm
Why it feels surreal to watch the Tokyo Olympics in person

42 min ago

From CNN's Scott Reeves in Tokyo

The nearly empty stadium is seen from CNN's seats at Sunday night's men's basketball game between USA and France. (Scott Reeves/CNN)

Sunday night's men's basketball matchup between the US and France featured some of the world's most famous athletes.

From France's Nicolas Batum and Rudy Gobert to Damian Lillard and Kevin Durant on the US roster, both teams fielded big stars on multimillion dollar NBA contracts.

And yet, the atmosphere felt like a high school basketball game.

With Tokyo holding the Olympics in the middle of a state of emergency, almost all fans have been banned from viewing competition. The normally palpable excitement of the competition is, like the stadium, nearly empty.

Security guards and volunteers outnumber spectators, who are in the hundreds. They consist exclusively of media, VIPs and other team members.

France's stunning upset of Team USA — which hadn't lost in the Olympics since Athens in 2004, had all the makings of a professional basketball game — the usual music, replays and commentary.

It was amazing to witness history, but the atmosphere was surreal.

1 hr 28 min ago

From CNN's George Ramsay at the Ariake Sports Park in Tokyo

Margielyn Didal of the Philippines competes in the street skateboarding prelims on July 26. (Ben Curtis/AP)

After Japan’s Yuto Horigome claimed the first-ever Olympic gold medal in skateboarding on Sunday, it’s time for the women’s street event at Tokyo’s Ariake Sports Park.

Skateboarding certainly has a different look and feel compared to most Olympic events, with music pumping, a lively stadium announcer calling each move, and riders whooping and cheering as they land tricks.

“They need the cool factor,” skateboarding legend Tony Hawk told CNN of the decision to add skateboarding to the Olympic program. It seems to have that.

Dutch rider Roos Zwetsloot currently leads with a score of 13.48 as the second heat of the prelims draws to a close. She’s followed by home favorite Aori Nishimura in second, and Philippines’ Margie Didal, who’s brought a great sense of fun and energy to the competition so far, in third.

There are still 10 riders and two more heats to come before the top eight progress to the finals.

9 hr 25 min ago
Zachary Lavine, Jrue Holiday, Bam Adebayo, Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard and Head Coach Gregg Popovich of Team USA during their game against France on Sunday, July 25. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Team USA head basketball coach Gregg Popovich spoke with the media after the Americans, 83-76, opening group play loss to France in the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.

“When you lose a game you’re not surprised, you’re disappointed. I don’t understand the word surprise – that sort of disses the French team, so to speak, as if we were supposed to beat them by 30 or something,” Popovich said. 

Team USA had an eight point lead with four minutes left in the game, but the French team mounted a 16-2 run, highlighted by leading scorer Evan Fournier’s go-ahead three-pointer with less than a minute left to seal the win. The loss snaps a 25-game win streak dating back to the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, when Team USA lost to Argentina.

“We have to be more consistent. We had two nine-point leads and one 10-point lead, and then an eight-point lead at the end of the game, and we gave all of those up because of lack of consistent defense, too many errors,” Popovich added. “We had, on offense, dry possessions where we didn't move and took ill-advised shots. So you understand it, you look at it, and you go to work and you try to get better.”

Despite pulling off the upset victory, the French team is not celebrating yet. French center Rudy Gobert said after the victory, “I mean it’s great, but, until we have what we want to have around our neck, it doesn’t really matter.”

Fournier, who scored a game-high 28 points, expressed a similar sentiment saying, it is a big win for us obviously, but we have to move on and show people back home that these guys can be beaten. With the right coach, the right mentality, the right work, you can compete against anyone, and it is not because we are a small country we should have any complexes. We are just as big as anyone you just have to believe.”

Both teams return to the court on Wednesday with Team USA scheduled to play Iran, while the French team faces off against the Czech Republic.

10 hr 22 min ago

From CNN's George Ramsay

Japan's Naomi Osaka serves during her single's match against China's Saisai Zheng on July 25. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

These are early days for the Tokyo Olympics, but Naomi Osaka is quickly emerging as the headline act.

Two days after lighting the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony — a moment she called "the greatest athletic achievement and honor" of her life — Osaka took to the tennis court for her first game in almost two months on Sunday, defeating China's Saisai Zheng 6-1 6-4 on Ariake Tennis Park's Centre Court.

Wimbledon champion Ashleigh Barty's surprise loss against Sara Sorribes Tormo earlier on Sunday means Osaka is now the top-ranked player in the women's draw in her bid to become the first Japanese woman to win an Olympic tennis medal.

The four-time grand slam champion hadn't played since withdrawing from the French Open at the end of May, which followed her decision not to undertake media duties for mental health reasons.

She chose not to play in Wimbledon, too, but has arrived in Tokyo rejuvenated and ready to make her mark.

"This, playing the Olympics, has been a dream of mine since I was a kid, so I feel like the break I took was very needed," the 23-year-old Osaka told reporters. "I feel definitely a little bit refreshed and happy again."

Read more about Osaka's opening match here.

12 hr 33 min ago
France's Evan Fournier goes for the basket past United States' Draymond Jamal Green during a basketball game on Sunday, July 25. (Eric Gay/AFP/Getty Images)

The United States men’s basketball team was defeated by France 83-76 in the team’s opening game of group play. 

The loss snaps a 25-game win streak dating back to the 2004 Summer Games in Athens when Team USA lost to Argentina.

France ended the game on a 16-2 run to seal the win, behind Evan Fournier’s team-leading 28-point effort.

Team USA will next play Iran on Wednesday.

12 hr 27 min ago

From CNN's Wayne Sterling

Kelvin Hoefler of Brazil, Yuto Horigome of Japan and Jagger Eton pose after the medal presentation at the men's street skateboarding finals on Sunday, July 25. (Ben Curtis/AP)

18 gold medals have been awarded so far at the Olympic games. Here's a round-up of the winners of gold so far:


  • Women's Team: Republic of Korea


  • Women's Road Race: Anna Kiesenhofer, Austria


  • Women's Synchronised 3m Springboard: China 


  • Women's Foil Individual: Lee Kiefer, USA
  • Men's Epee Individual: Romain Cannone, France


  • Women's -52kg: Uta Abe, Japan
  • Men's -66kg: Hifumi Abe, Japan


  • Women's 10m Air Pistol: Vitalina Batsarashkina, ROC
  • Men's 10m Air Rifle: William Shaner, USA


  • Men's Street: Yuto Horigome, Japan


  • Men's 400m Individual Medley: Chase Kalisz, USA
  • Men's 400m Freestyle: Ahmed Hafnaoui, Tunisia
  • Women's 400m Individual Medley: Yui Ohashi, Japan
  • Women's 4 X 100m Freestyle Relay: Australia


  • Women's -57kg: Anastasija Zolotic, USA
  • Men's -68kg: Ulugbek Rashitov, Uzbekistan


  • Men's 61kg: LI Fabin, China
  • Men's 67kg: Chen Lijun, China

Read more about the Olympic games here and check out the medal count here.

2 hr 2 min ago

After the completion of Sunday's events, China currently edges the US in the medal count, with six gold medals and 11 total.

The US is just behind with 10 total medals, four of them gold.

Japan is currently second to China with five gold medals so far at the games.

12 hr 54 min ago
Anastasija Zolotic of the United States competes in a Taekwondo contest against Tatiana Manina of the Russian Olympic Committee on July 25. Dave Shopland/Shutterstock

American Anastasija Zolotic won gold in the women's -57kg Taekwondo event after beating Russian Olympic Committee's Tatiana Minina, who claimed silver, 25-17 at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Zolotic is the first US woman to win Olympic gold in Taekwondo.

The United States captured its fourth gold medal of the Summer Games and the nation's tenth overall.

Bronze went to Hatice Ilgun of Turkey and Chinese Taipei's Lo Chia-Ling.

13 hr 35 min ago
Pope Francis waves from his studio's window overlooking St. Peter's Square to celebrate the Angelus prayer, at the Vatican on Sunday, July 25. (Riccardo De Luca/AP)

Pope Francis blessed the organizers, athletes, and those involved in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics during his Sunday blessing. 

“In this time of the pandemic, these Games are a sign of hope, a sign of universal brotherhood in the name of healthy competition,” the Pope said.

Here's some more from the Pope's blessing: 

“In recent days, torrential rains have hit the city of Zhengzhou, in the province of Henan in China, causing devastating floods. I pray for the victims and their families, and I express my closeness and solidarity to all those who suffer from this calamity. Last Friday the 32nd Olympics opened in Tokyo. In this time of pandemic, these Games are a sign of hope, a sign of universal brotherhood in the name of healthy competition. God bless the organizers, the athletes and all those who collaborate for this great sports festival.”

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