The U.S. women’s soccer team suffered a shocking 3-0 defeat to Sweden to begin the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics Wednesday.
Swedish forward Stina Blackstenius scored two goals against the reigning World Cup champions, who were seeking revenge on the team that ended their gold medal hopes at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The two sides played to a 1-1 draw during an exhibition match in April.
The United States saw its 44-game unbeaten streak that began in 2019 come to an end. They return to the pitch Saturday against New Zealand, while Sweden will face Australia.
The Games officially began earlier Wednesday when the host Japanese women’s softball team posted an 8-1 rout of Australia.
The Games, delayed for a year by the pandemic, got off to a quiet start when Japanese pitcher Yukiko Ueno tossed the first pitch to Australian leadoff hitter Michelle Cox at a nearly empty stadium in the northwestern city of Fukushima, the site of the 2011 nuclear disaster.
Australia took a 1-0 lead in the first inning after Ueno walked a batter and hit the next two, allowing Cox to score. But the host country quickly rebounded, tying the game in the same inning, then scoring two runs in the third and three more in the fourth. The game ended after Yu Yamamoto hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning that prompted the umpires to invoke the mercy rule.
The Japan-Australia contest was the first of three games scheduled for Wednesday. The United States beat Italy 2-0 in the second game, with 38-year-old Cat Osterman, who won gold with the U.S. team in 2004 and silver in 2008, striking out nine batters while giving up just one hit over six innings.
Mexico and Canada were slated for the third game at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium.
The Tokyo Olympics are being staged under a coronavirus state of emergency prompted by rising rates of new COVID-19 infections and low rates of vaccinations. So far, at least 70 people connected to the Games have tested positive for COVID-19 since athletes began arriving at the Olympic Village in Tokyo.
Olympic organizers have banned fans from attending any of the events because of the current surge of new infections.
Mexico’s national baseball team has been placed in quarantine in Mexico City after two players tested positive for COVID-19 before they were scheduled to travel to Japan.
Meanwhile, an administrative error has caused six members of the Polish swim team to leave Tokyo and return home. A delegation of 23 swimmers arrived in Tokyo to take part in the Games, but the Polish Swimming Federation (PZP) recalled six of them Sunday because of an administrative error.
All six swimmers issued a statement calling on the entire organization’s board to resign immediately.
PZP director Pawel Slominski issued a statement Monday expressing his “great regret, sadness and bitterness about the situation.”
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.