A much-anticipated debut for Japan’s baseball team and another showdown in the pool between one of the faces of the Rio Games and a budding Australian star — with her remarkably enthusiastic coach watching from the stands.
Here are the key events to look out for on Day 5.
If you’re wondering where to watch the action in Japan, check your local TV listings or make use of this handy streaming guide by The Japan Times.
Swimming: Ledecky vs. Titmus II
The epic battle between these two giants of freestyle swimming continues at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre on Wednesday morning. Round 2 will be fought over 200 meters, with defending Olympic champion Katie Ledecky looking to fend off up-and-coming Aussie Ariarne Titmus, who touched the wall just ahead of the American veteran in their first duel on Monday in the 400-meter freestyle.
One thing’s certain ahead of the highly anticipated rematch: The internet will be watching to see how Titmus’s coach Dean Boxall reacts to the result. Boxall’s exuberant celebration after Titmus’s gold-medal swim quickly went viral and sparked a slew of internet memes.
Win or lose, Ledecky won’t have much time to reflect on the result. She’ll be back in the pool for the women’s 1,500-meter freestyle later in the morning, part of a grueling schedule for the five-time gold medalist.
In other races, Japan’s Yui Ohashi will be looking to repeat her performance from the 400-meter individual medley as she goes for a second gold, this time in the 200-meter medley. Tomoru Honda is also swimming for the medals in the men’s 200-meter butterfly.
The session begins at 10:30 a.m., with all swimming medal races at these Games being held in the morning to appease television markets overseas.
Baseball: Debut for Samurai Japan
Now it’s the men’s turn.
Expectations are high for manager Atsunori Inaba’s team, with a full slate of top Japanese pros available, albeit not Shohei Ohtani, as MLB players aren’t participating in the Games.
Former New York Yankees standout Masahiro Tanaka and Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano lead a formidable pitching staff, while infielder Munetaka Murakami and outfielders Yuki Yanagita, Masataka Yoshida and Seiya Suzuki should give the bats plenty of pop.
Japan opens the tournament against the Dominican Republic at Fukushima Azuma Stadium, with the first pitch scheduled for 12 p.m.
Tennis: Taking the baton from Osaka
But that doesn’t mean Japan’s hopes of an elusive Olympic tennis gold are over.
Kei Nishikori will hope to carry the flag from here after a long struggle with injuries — and a remarkable spell where his Grand Slam hopes were consistently dashed by tennis’ immortal ‘Big Three.’ Nishikori is playing well at his home Games and could be poised for deep runs in both singles and doubles.
That double duty could make for a long afternoon Wednesday. Nishikori will first take on Belarus’ Ilya Ivashka in singles before pairing with Ben McLachlan, one of the many biracial Japanese making an impact at the Games, in the doubles quarterfinals.
Nishikori’s singles match is the second scheduled on Court 1 and should begin around 1 p.m. He’ll return for the doubles later in the afternoon or into the early evening, depending on how long it takes to play the rest of the schedule.
Gymnastics: Taking over for ‘King Kohei’
Kohei Uchimura, the Olympic all-around champion in 2012 and 2016, opted to focus on other events at these games instead of trying to defend his title, although hopes of more hardware ended early for the gymnastics legend.
Japan’s best hopes of keeping the Olympic title in rest with heir apparent Daiki Hashimoto, one of the Japanese athletes to watch at the Games according to the JT’s Kaz Nagatsuka. Hashimoto, 19, appears to be in fine form, having carried the men’s team to a silver in the team competition with a clutch performance on the high bar.
Challenges should come from Russians Nikita Nagornyy and Artur Dalaloyan and China’s Xiao Ruoteng and Sun Wei.
The competition gets underway at 7:15 p.m.
Soccer: Growing confidence
After an uneven 1-0 win over South Africa in the opener, the Japanese side came through with an impressive 2-1 win over Mexico on Sunday night, writes the JT’s Dan Orlowitz.
It might be too early to talk podium for the under-24 squad, but if the high-flying team that showed up on Sunday is here to stay, anything is possible. Regardless of the result, the future looks bright for Japanese soccer thanks in part to the play of attacking midfielders Takefusa Kubo and Ritsu Doan.
They’ll look to secure a place in the knockout stage Wednesday when they take on France. The match begins at 8:30 p.m.
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