Mana Iwabuchi scored in the 84th minute and Japan pulled into a 1-1 draw with Canada to open the Olympic women’s soccer tournament on Wednesday.
Christine Sinclair, the all-time leading international scorer among men and women, scored her 187th career goal in the sixth minute to give the Canadians the early lead. It came in her 300th appearance with the team.
Iwabuchi answered late with a long strike that caught Canada goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe out of position.
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The Tokyo Games are Canada’s fourth Olympics. The team has won bronze medals in the last two.
Sinclair has played in all four appearances, scoring 12 goals in 15 games _ including the game-winner against Brazil in the third-place match in 2016.
The Canadians are playing under coach Bev Priestman, who took over when Kenneth Heiner-Moller stepped down last June.
Japan, which qualified as hosts, did not make the field for Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Known as the Nadeshiko, Japan won silver at the 2012 London Games.
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Group play continues on Saturday with Canada facing Chile and Japan playing Britain at the Sapporo Dome. Earlier Wednesday, Britain defeated Chile 2-0.
Tokyo cases at 6 month high ahead of Olympics
Tokyo’s coronavirus infections have surged to a six-month high with the Olympic host city logging 1,832 new cases just two days before the Games open.
Tokyo is currently under its fourth state of emergency, which will last until Aug. 22, covering the entire duration of the Olympics that start Friday and end Aug. 8. Fans are banned from all venues in the Tokyo area.
Japan Medical Association President Toshio Nakagawa says the surge has been expected regardless of the Olympics. Experts say cases among younger, unvaccinated people are sharply rising as Japan’s inoculation drive loses steam due to supply uncertainty. About 23 per cent of Japanese are fully vaccinated.
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Health experts on Wednesday warned Tokyo’s infections would only worsen in coming weeks. Dr. Norio Ohmagari, the Tokyo metropolitan government’s expert panel member, says Tokyo’s average daily cases could hit around 2,600 in two weeks if they continue at the current pace.
Japan has recorded about 84,800 infections and more than 15,000 confirmed deaths since the start of the pandemic, most of them since the latest wave in January.
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