Ledecky vs Titmus: the rivalry of the Tokyo Games


Tokyo Olympics updates

Any Olympics is enhanced by an unmissable rivalry. The first week of the Tokyo Games has been defined by a pair of female swimmers, Australia’s Ariane Titmus and Katie Ledecky for the US. 

On Saturday, Ledecky beat Titmus in the women’s 800m freestyle. But the pair will leave Japan with two golds apiece and their reputations enhanced for the challenge they have set one another.

“That was not my last swim,” said the 24-year-old Ledecky, insisting that battle will continue into the next Games in Paris in three years’ time. “I’m at least going to ’24, maybe to ’28, we’ll see.”

The American has now won seven golds across three Olympics. But in Rio de Janeiro five years ago, she was without peer, winning the 800m freestyle by half a pool’s length.

Titmus has emerged to close the gap. The 20-year-old from Tasmania, the island off the south of the Australian mainland, began swimming aged seven and was competing for her country at world championships by 16. She has held up Ledecky as both her idol and chief target.

She hunted Ledecky down on Monday, when she came from a body length behind in the early stages of the 400m freestyle to overtake the American legend in the final few metres.

“I’ve just been trying to chase her,” said Titmus after that win. “I can’t believe I actually pulled it off.” She followed that up with a more dominant victory in the 200m freestyle, her favourite event.

Ledecky was victorious in the 1,500m freestyle earlier this week, but that was one race in which she did not face Titmus.

The US and Australian team have dominated the swimming medals for decades. But in recent Olympics, the golds have largely been reserved for the American squad. 

Saturday’s racing showed the dominance of the two nations. US swimmer Caeleb Dressel tool his second Olympic title at these Games, winning the men’s 100m butterfly final in a world record time of 49.45 seconds. Australia’s Kaylee McKeown triumphed in the women’s 200m backstroke to also clinch her second title in Tokyo.

In 2016, the US won 16 golds to Australia’s 3. In 2012, the score was 16-1. In 2008, it was 12-6. After Saturday’s races in Tokyo, the score stood at 8-7. More used to racking up golds in the pool, a relatively even split at these Games has harmed the US in the overall medal table, starting Saturday behind both China and Japan.

The final swimming races of the Games take place on Sunday, when once again, it will be American and Aussie teams that will be the ones to watch.

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Highlights

  • There was a shocking development on the day of the women’s 100 metre final. Blessing Okagbare of Nigeria was provisionally suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit after testing positive for human growth hormone. Okagbare, one of the top-seeded sprinters in the event, recorded the positive test in an out-of-competition sample provided on 19 July, the anti-doping agency said. Her suspension further scrambles one of the most anticipated events of the Tokyo Games, as Jamaicans Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson-Herah, and Briton Dina Asher-Smith vie for the title of fastest woman in the world on Saturday night.

  • Simone Biles pulled out of two gymnastics apparatus finals, the uneven bars and the vault, USA Gymnastics said on Saturday, adding that the champion athlete is still being evaluated for participation in the balance beam and floor events.

    Biles said she continued to struggle with what gymnasts refer to as “the twisties”, in which her body won’t perform what her mind is instructing. “It’s honestly petrifying trying to do a skill but not having your mind & body in sync. 10/10 do not recommend”, she wrote on Instagram. The mental block typically takes “two or more weeks” to abate, she added, though Bules has been practising on soft surfaces in Tokyo in hopes of participating in the remainder of the gymnastics schedule.

  • Team GB stalwart Jonny Brownlee has retired from Olympic competition with his first gold medal. He was part of the British team that won the first ever mixed sprint triathlon, alongside Jessica Learmonth, Georgia Taylor-Brown and Alex Lee. “Olympics? Completed it,” said 31-year-old Brownlee afterwards. He has appeared on past podiums, often behind his brother Alistair. “It feels absolutely amazing. It’s my third Olympics and I’ve finally got gold.” He intends to focus on even tougher Iron Man competitions in future.

  • Britain also achieved a stunning victory in the mixed 4x100m swimming relay, with the quartet of Kathleen Dawson, Adam Peaty, James Guy and Anna Hopkin clocking a world record time of 3.37.58. It was Team GB’s fourth swimming in the pool, matching its best performance in the sport since the 1908 Olympics. 

  • Serbia’s Novak Djokovic was knocked out of the men’s singles tennis tournament by Germany’s Alexander Zverev. The shock defeat means the world’s top ranked male player cannot complete a “golden slam” — winning the Olympic title and the sport’s four “grand slam” tournaments in the same calendar year.

    “I feel sorry for Novak,” said Zverev. “You can’t have everything.” The German faces the Russian Olympic Committee’s Karen Khachanov in Sunday’s final. Before that, on Saturday, Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic will meet Czech Republic’s Marketa Vondrousova in the women’s singles final.

  • China continued its domination of table tennis at the Olympics. World number one Fan Zhendong was defeated by his compatriot and reigning champion Ma Long in the final of the men’s singles at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on Friday night. The country has now won all but five of the available golds in table tennis since the sport was introduced at the 1988 Games. However, the country suffered a rare defeat earlier in the week when Japan’s mixed doubles pair of Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito won their country’s first ever table tennis gold.

On the podium

Just as the world’s greatest athletes have been training for years to reach the Games, broadcasters have also been preparing to capture the action. Though BBC presenter Dan Walker realises this better than most, but couldn’t help but be amused by a cameraman filming the trampolining finals on Friday. Let’s just say it’s a job that has its ups and downs.

Click here to see FT’s “alternative medals table” which ranks nations not just on their medal haul, but against how they should be performing against economic and geopolitical factors.

Tokyo Olympics Daily is published at 4pm Japan time. It is written by the team behind the Scoreboard business of sports weekly newsletter, with contributions from the FT’s Tokyo bureau. Sign up to Scoreboard here to receive it in your inbox every Saturday morning.

Casino Online game devices

Casino Online game devices

Game

Video game, models, seafood online game

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Purchase Move forward Fragrance stuffing equipment

Purchase Move forward Fragrance stuffing equipment

Automation equipment

Satisfying machine, cologne, machinery

When you are somebody who wants to setup a fragrance packing company and steer the marketplace through providing the best packaging support you then have landed at the right place. Prior to hopping for the retailer for buying a Perfume stuffing machine let’s go along with some important details regarding the stuffing equipment.

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Obtain the wanted ceiling: Baffle roof maching

Obtain the wanted ceiling: Baffle roof maching

fake ceiling

Ceiling, fake ceiling, baffle machine

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Advanced Pedestal Jewellery Highlight

Advanced Pedestal Jewellery Highlight

Pedestal showcase

Highlight, Jewelry Showcase, Jewellery Store

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Rio Tinto to pay $9.1bn dividend as profits boom on iron ore demand


Rio Tinto PLC updates

Rio Tinto reported record half-year profits that topped its total for all of 2020 as the price of its key commodity iron ore hit an all-time high on the back of booming demand from China.

The strong earnings growth enabled the Anglo-Australian company to reward shareholders with the biggest half-year payout in its history: dividends of $9.1bn, or $5.61 a share.

The profits and dividend highlight the huge amounts of cash being generated by the mining industry, which has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of China’s rapid economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and huge stimulus packages announced by governments worldwide.

Rio’s peers, including Anglo American, BHP, Glencore and Vale, are also expected to deliver blockbuster results and cash returns when they report over the next month.

Based on production and commodity price forecasts, PwC expects the world’s top 40 miners to record after-tax profits of $118bn in 2021, up 68 per cent from the previous year.

In contrast to previous cycles, big diversified miners have resisted the temptation to invest in ambitious new projects and increase supply, in part because of few development options, particularly in metals such as copper. As a result, big miners are generating record levels of cash.

Rio said net income rose 271 per cent to a record $12.3bn in the six months to June on revenues of $33bn. Profits were higher than expected by analysts, and $2.5bn larger than Rio achieved in all of 2020.

The company will pay out 75 per cent of its earnings as dividends as it swung to a net cash position of $3.1bn from net debt of $664m at the end of 2020. Its stated dividend policy is to pay out 40 per cent to 60 per cent of earnings.

Alexander Pearce, analyst at BMO Capital Markets, said Rio’s dividend announcement set a “positive precedent for shareholder returns from its peers”.

Iron ore was Rio’s main driver of profits, accounting for almost 85 per cent of net income. The company is the world’s biggest producer of the commodity, which hit an all-time high above $233 a tonne in May amid demand from China, which has churned out record amounts of steel this year. Although the price has eased, it remains around $200 a tonne, almost 90 per cent higher than 12 months ago.

Booming iron ore prices helped divert attention from a weak operational performance. The volume of iron ore shipped from Rio’s mines in the Pilbara region of Western Australia fell 12 per cent year on year in the three months to June because of adverse weather conditions, labour shortages and a new approach to cultural heritage.

Rio last year blew up two ancient aboriginal rock shelters to make way for a mine expansion, drawing international condemnation and the resignation of then-chief executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques.

“We are making progress on our four priorities, identifying opportunities for operational improvement, advancing our ESG agenda, taking important investment decisions and stepping up our external engagement,” said chief executive Jakob Stausholm.

Outside of Australia the company is struggling to develop Oyu Tolgoi, a huge underground copper mine in Mongolia’s Gobi desert, because of disagreements with the government. It has also been forced to curtail operations at its Richard Bay Minerals business in South Africa because of security issues.

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Tokyo Olympics Daily: Japan gets in the Olympic spirit


Tokyo Olympics updates

Japan switches on to the Games as nation secures first golds 

Judoka Naohisa Takato won Japan’s first gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, securing early glory for the host nation that organisers hope will trigger more widespread enthusiasm for the Games. 

Though there were no fans present to witness the historic moment, commentators on public broadcaster NHK were in tears as they described the moment Takato secured an ippon against Yang Yung Wei of Chinese Taipei to win the bout.

“I’m glad that I could help fire up the Japan team by winning the first gold,” Takato said after his victory in the men’s under-60kg weight class.

Japan’s first triumph was followed up with two more golds on Sunday: Yui Ohashi won the women’s 400-meter individual medley in swimming and Yuto Horigome took home the first-ever Olympic gold in the men’s street skateboarding.

In the run-up to the Games, opinion polls suggested that the majority of the Japanese public opposed hosting the Games during the pandemic. But on the first full day of action on Saturday, the International Olympic Committee reported that 69.4m people, representing around half of Japan’s population, had watched at least part of the Games on television. 

Japan’s Yuto Horigome
Japan’s Yuto Horigome added another gold for Japan in skateboarding, which made its Olympic debut this year © AFP via Getty Images

Within the IOC, there has long been a belief that early successes in competition would win Japanese viewers over to the world’s biggest sporting event happening on home turf, despite the public health crisis. 

Judo was the event that the quiet confidence was built upon. Matches are taking place in the beloved Nippon Budokan, built for the 1964 Tokyo Games when the sport made its inaugural Olympic appearance. Japan now has 40 gold, 20 silver and 26 bronze medals in the sport, leading the all-time medal table.

There was even disappointment when Distria Krasniqi of Kosovo beat Japan’s Tonaki Funa in the final of the women’s under-48kg weight class on Saturday, even though the former was the world number-one and favourite. 

Naoki Ogata, a Japanese official at the International Judo Federation, had set expectations high ahead of the competition: “No doubt, we want a gold medal in all weight categories.”

That public enthusiasm was also captured during Saturday’s men’s cycling road race, where masked members of the public disregarded official advice and lined up along the 234km route, which snaked out of Tokyo, to catch a passing glimpse of the riders. 

Similar scenes are expected along the women’s road race, which ends this afternoon at the Fuji International Speedway, where thousands of fans will be able to watch from the stands. The ban of spectators in stadiums does not extend outside Tokyo.

But dissenting voices abound. Pictures of Yasuhiro Yamashita, president of the Japanese Olympic Committee, not wearing a face mask while talking to officials at the judo competition have made local headlines.

Takeshi Kitano, a comedian-turned-director known for films such as Brother and Fireworks, gave a rare scathing assessment of the otherwise well-received opening ceremony during a TV programme on Sunday. 

“It was great, I slept through most of it. Give us back our money,” he said, predicting that people would look back at the 2020 Games and realise how “foolish Japan had been”.

Highlights

Cate Campbell of Australia competes in the women’s 4x100-metre relay at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics
Team Australia won the women’s 4×100-metre swimming relay for a third consecutive time — and set the first world record at the Tokyo 2020 Games © Getty Images
  • The Australian women’s 4×100-metre swimming relay team set the first new world record of the Tokyo Games, securing the gold with a time of 3:29.69. The team finished a full three seconds ahead of Canada, which barely edged the US for the silver. Also in the pool, US swimmer Chase Kalisz won the men’s individual 400-metre medley in a time of 4:09.42.

  • The Japan Meteorological Agency is forecasting a typhoon could make landfall in or around Tokyo as early as Tuesday, which has already disrupted some sports scheduling. Typhoon Nepartak formed south-east of Honshu, Japan’s main island, on Friday. Olympic organisers said they have been monitoring the storm and the potential for further event postponements. 

Britain’s Jade Jones, right, and and Refugee Olympic Team’s Kimia Alizadeh Zenoorin compete in the taekwondo women’s under-57kg competition
Britain’s Jade Jones, right, took home the taekwondo gold at the London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016 Games. But she was unable to defend her title against the Refugee Olympic team’s Kimia Alizadeh Zenoorin, left © AFP via Getty Images
  • Britain’s Jade Jones, the two-time Olympic champion in taekwondo, was knocked out in the round of 16 in the women’s under-57kg category. The result was a significant upset for the world number one, beaten by Kimia Alizadeh Zenoorin, who was born in Iran and is representing the Refugee Olympic team. Jones had been widely expected to secure Team GB’s first gold in Tokyo. 

  • Australia’s Ashleigh Barty was defeated in the first round of the women’s singles tennis tournament. The world number-one, who came to the Olympics off a win at Wimbledon this month, fell in shocking fashion to Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo. On the men’s side, Britain’s Andy Murray announced he was withdrawing from the singles tournament to concentrate on the doubles event, alongside Joe Salisbury. Murray said he was advised not to take part in both events due to a quad strain.

  • The IOC announced 10 new Covid-19 cases at the Olympics on Sunday, bringing the total number disclosed to 132. Among them was Dutch rowing coach Josy Verdonkschot, who has gone into 10-day quarantine.

On the podium

Ahmed Hafnaoui of Tunisia, poses with his gold medal after winning of the men’s 400-metre freestyle
Ahmed Hafnaoui of Tunisia bested Australia’s Jack McLoughlin and Kieran Smith of the US to earn Tunisia’s first-ever Olympic gold in swimming © AP

Likely winners have pristine uniforms prepared by their national Olympic associations to ensure they look the part during the medal ceremony. But that did not appear to be the case for Ahmed Hafnaoui of Tunisia, whose victory in the men’s 400m freestyle was the first gold medal in swimming for his country. 

It was a stunning upset. Hafnaoui, only the second Tunisian to ever make an Olympics swimming final, started on the outside lane. But he swam three seconds quicker than the personal best he recorded in the heats to win in a time of 3:43.36. On the podium, he wore a simple grey training T-shirt. All the attention, though, was on the medal draped around his neck.

Click here for the FT’s “alternative medals table”, which ranks nations not just on their medal haul, but against how they should be performing against economic and geopolitical factors.

To keep up to date with the latest Olympic developments, click the button “Add to myFT” at the top of this page

Tokyo Olympics Daily is written by the team behind the Scoreboard business of sports weekly newsletter, with contributions from the FT’s Tokyo bureau. Sign up to Scoreboard here to receive it in your inbox every Saturday morning. 

Hong Kong anti-doxing bill to allow blocking of social media access


The Hong Kong government will gain powers to restrict local access to the world’s biggest technology platforms under legislation to punish “doxing” offences expected to be passed this year.

The measures are the latest government effort to assert greater control over civic freedoms in the territory following pro-democracy protests in 2019, when critics and supporters of the government alike engaged in doxing by publishing the personal information of police officers, lawmakers, journalists and protesters online.

But the anti-doxing bill, which will amend Hong Kong’s privacy laws, has been criticised as being too broad, leaving internet service providers and citizens vulnerable to arbitrary accusations and unfair prosecution. Critics said it could also be used to limit freedom of expression.

The amendment, introduced into the city’s pro-government legislature on Monday, came days after the Biden administration issued a stark warning about the risks to US businesses operating in the Chinese territory and a year after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law.

Authorities have introduced other restrictions on information in recent months, such as limiting access to data on the companies registry and censoring films deemed to threaten national security.

Police on Thursday arrested five members of the Hong Kong union of speech therapists on suspicion of conspiracy to publish and distribute children’s books that were seditious.

The group had published picture books featuring sheep facing off against wolves that authorities said depicted ideas and scenes from the protests.

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper, which was frequently critical of the government, recently closed under political pressure. Police on Wednesday arrested more senior editorial staff who worked for the tabloid, including former executive editor-in-chief Lam Man-chung.

Lam Man-chung, former executive editor-in-chief of Apple Daily,  marks the newspaper’s final edition in Hong Kong last month
Lam Man-chung, former executive editor-in-chief of Apple Daily, marks the newspaper’s final edition in Hong Kong last month © Tyrone Si/Reuters

Under the privacy law amendment, Hong Kong could order platforms such as Facebook, Google and Twitter to remove content classified as doxing and block local access to the platform if the company failed to comply.

Employees of the technology companies who are based in or enter the Chinese territory could also face jail time for failing to remove such material under the vast powers that will be granted to the city’s privacy commissioner.

“This makes me nervous,” said Paul Haswell, a technology partner at Pinsent Masons in Hong Kong. “The punishments are among the harshest in the world for doxing.”

Employees who fail to take down material could face two years in jail and a HK$100,000 (US$12,865) fine. Individuals found guilty of doxing could face five years in prison and HK$1m fines.

Supporters of the legislation have argued that tough rules are needed to curb the misuse of personal information.

“Given the severe harm caused by doxing to victims like police and their families, there must be heavy penalties,” Holden Chow, a pro-Beijing lawmaker in the city, told the Financial Times.

However, the Asia Internet Coalition, a lobbying consortium representing US internet companies such as Facebook, Google and Twitter, warned last month that the legislation could force tech groups to stop providing services in Hong Kong because of the heightened risks for their staff. The AIC since added that none of their members planned to leave the city.

Erick Tsang, Hong Kong’s secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs, attempted to reassure tech companies on Monday. “If the employees of these companies in Hong Kong are only responsible for general marketing or administrative work, and they have no authority to act on ‘doxing’ content, they don’t have to worry too much about the legal liabilities,” he said.

The AIC said the planned laws were too vague, as they did not explicitly define doxing or the “psychological harm” caused by it that would be used as a test for prosecution.

The presence of large social media platforms and search engines in Hong Kong supports the city’s attractiveness to international businesses compared with mainland China, where access to information is restricted in a system termed the “Great Firewall”.

Media companies could also fall foul of the legislation. Haswell, the lawyer, warned that it was not clear if even publishing a photo of a person without their consent could count as doxing.

However, the bill’s supporters said normal news reporting was covered by existing exemptions.

The head of a US law firm in Hong Kong said international business groups had asked for new risk assessments in light of the anti-doxing legislation and the Biden administration’s notice.

“There is more urgency about communicating the potential impacts of this issue back to headquarters than I have seen before,” the lawyer said.

Additional reporting by Mercedes Ruehl in Singapore

Video: How the national security law is changing Hong Kong

Global shares drop on fears of Delta Covid variant


European and Asian shares fell as growing concerns over Covid-19 outbreaks clouded the outlook for the global economy.

In early morning trading on Monday, Europe’s Stoxx 600 index fell 1.4 per cent. London’s FTSE 100 dropped 1.3 per cent as England lifted most of its coronavirus restrictions. Optimism about the reopening was overshadowed by more than half a million people, including prime minister Boris Johnson, being told to isolate after coming into contact with infected individuals. Businesses including supermarkets and ports reported staff shortages.

Japan’s Topix fell 1.3 per cent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 1.7 per cent.

After US-listed stocks ended Friday with their worst weekly performance in more than a month, futures markets signalled the blue-chip S&P 500 index would drop 0.5 per cent in early trades.

Stocks stumbled as investors grappled with the rapid spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant of Covid-19, which has struck countries that had previously brought the virus under control. The moves coincided with uncertainty about the path of central banks’ monetary support after inflation rose in the US and the UK.

Michael Hood, global multi-asset strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management, said the rapid spread of the Delta variant was “forcing investors to refocus on the virus at a time when most had been happy to leave that issue behind”.

New York state on Saturday recorded more than 1,000 cases in a day for the first time since mid-May, while authorities in countries including Australia and Vietnam were battling rising infections, Singapore tightened social distancing restrictions and Tokyo’s Olympic Games were set back by a coronavirus outbreak.

The Stoxx and the US S&P 500 hit records earlier this month on the back of exuberance about coronavirus vaccines and companies reaping the benefits of economies reopening.

“Valuations and sentiment all reached extreme growth highs,” said Ewout van Schaick, head of multi-asset investment at NN Investment Partners. “Now of course the revival of the virus is causing uncertainty about economic progress in the months ahead.”

Markets are also grappling with how monetary policymakers will deal with rising inflation after US and UK consumer price increases unexpectedly accelerated in June. The US Federal Reserve is under pressure to taper its $120bn of monthly bond purchases that have boosted markets throughout the pandemic in response to inflation trends while some UK lawmakers are pushing the Bank of England to rein in its own government debt buying.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year US Treasury bond, which moves inversely to its price, dropped 0.02 percentage points to 1.275 per cent as traders bought the haven asset.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against major currencies, gained 0.3 per cent. The euro lost 0.2 per cent against the dollar to $1.1781.

Brent crude, the international oil benchmark, dropped 1.5 per cent to $72.47 a barrel. The move came after Opec and its allies reached a deal to raise oil production to counter increasing prices, announcing a plan to reverse all output cuts made during the pandemic by the end of 2022.

Brent had soared to a three-year high of more than $74 a barrel as demand recovered this year, and it was uncertain whether the Opec+ cuts will be enough to offset upward pressure on prices as demand is expected to rise further in the months ahead.