With battles on court, terrain and sand, the United States vs Australia is one of Tokyo 2020’s biggest rivalries.

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Italy's Viviana Bottaro performs in the kata event of the karate competition on Thursday.
Italy’s Viviana Bottaro performs in the kata event of the karate competition on Thursday. Alexander Nemenv / AFP / Getty Images
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We’re heading into the last weekend of competition at the Olympics. As the Games draw to a close, here’s what you need to know about Tokyo.

A “new phase” of the pandemic: While the Olympics overall went as well as could be expected for a major sporting competition staged in the midst of a pandemic, the situation off the pitch and outside of Tokyo’s many venues 2020 looks dire.

“In many areas, new positive cases are increasing at an extremely rapid rate that we have never experienced before,” said Yasutoshi Nishimura, the government minister responsible for Japan’s response to the coronavirus.

Nishimura said the more infectious Delta variant accounts for about 90% of all cases in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

Olympic organizers and Japanese leaders, including Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, have previously said they do not believe the Olympics have contributed to the increase in cases.

But some medical professionals and public health experts disagree. They see people congregating outside of venues like the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo and fear that a corresponding post-Games spike in Covid-19 cases will occur – a potential disaster given the overload of the the country’s medical infrastructure.

“What we are seeing on the ground is that there is already a collapse of the medical system, and this wave is only just beginning, and the number of infections is expected to rise sharply next week and the week after. “said Dr Hideaki. Oka, specialist in infectious diseases.

The beginnings of Karate: Japan’s most famous martial art bowed out at the Olympic Games on Thursday, with the competition scheduled to take place late in the evening. The first of nine medal bouts begins at 7:30 p.m. Tokyo time (6:30 a.m. ET).

The inclusion of karate in the Olympics is expected to be short-lived, as the event has been excluded from the Paris 2024 Games schedule.

NBA Star Clash: Today’s basketball games determine who plays for gold on Saturday in Japan. Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard and the rest of Team USA’s all-star squad take on Australia. The Boomers, led by NBA veterans Patty Mills and Joe Ingles, surprised the basketball world by beating the Americans in an exhibition game last month. This game is followed by France v Slovenia, which will see NBA three-time defensive player of the year Rudy Gobert take on Luka Doncic, one of basketball’s brightest young stars.

Medal Update: China leads with 32 gold medals, followed by the United States with 27 and Japan with 21. Team USA has 83 total medals to finish first in the combined standings. China is second with 71 and the Russian Olympic Committee is third with 53.

What else happens later in Japan:

  • Athletics: The world’s greatest athletes will be named when the men’s decathlon and women’s heptathlon wrap up their grueling two days of competition, and the women’s pole vault and men’s 400-meter finals take place in Tokyo tonight.
  • Women’s football: Team USA and Australia will play for the bronze medal after the Americans’ disappointing semi-final loss to Canada.
  • Sport climbing: The first medals in the history of Olympic sport climbing will be awarded this evening.

The full Olympic program is available here.

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