Olympic wake-up call: Canada’s softball team gets opening win

The opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympic Games might still be two days away, but Team Canada is already off to a winning start.

Canada’s softball team, ranked No. 3 in the world, claimed victory in its first game of the tournament against Mexico on Wednesday.

The 4-0 win featured a strong showing from pitcher Sara Groenewegen and a home run from Jenn Salling. Thirteen years after the sport’s last Olympic appearance in Beijing, CBC Sports’s Devin Heroux breaks down Canada’s impressive start here.

Softball isn’t the only sport to begin ahead of Day 1 — the Canadian women’s soccer team had its tournament start, too. Here’s a quick recap of other Olympic news you might have missed.

Athletes take a knee

Six women’s soccer teams have completed their opening matches, with Canada mid-game against Japan at the time of publishing.

Players for Great Britain took a knee on the pitch before kickoff of their opening match in a sign of support for racial justice. Opponents Chile followed their lead, and both the U.S. and Sweden shared in a gesture as well. 

Find live streams, must-watch video highlights, breaking news and more in one perfect Olympic Games package. Following Team Canada has never been easier or more exciting.

More from Tokyo 2020

Lucy Bronze of Team Great Britain takes a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement prior to the women’s first-round match between Great Britain and Chile during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 at Sapporo Dome on Wednesday in Sapporo, Japan. (Masashi Hara/Getty Images)

The International Olympic Committee decided to allow gestures and signs of protest, but only at specific times — for example, on the medal podium isn’t one of them.

A stinging defeat for the U.S.

Britain’s women’s soccer team won its first match 2-0 against Chile, and Brazil trumped China 5-0. 

But it was Sweden that handed the U.S. a stinging 3-0 loss. The Americans — with four Olympic gold and four World Cup titles, including 2019 — managed six shots on goal. 

More softball

Back on the softball side, host nation Japan won the first game of the Olympics by defeating Australia 8-1. 

Japan, who are also the 2008 Beijing champions, peeled away in the fourth inning. A homer from Yamamoto Yu — adding to two previous ones by Yamato Fujita and Minori Naito — sealed the deal. The game was over after the fifth inning due to a mercy rule. 

Top-ranked U.S. — which has won other three Olympic gold medals in the sport — beat Italy 2-0. 

The Italian softball team lost their coach, Enrico Obletter, earlier in the year. He died after contracting COVID-19, according to the Italian Baseball Softball Federation. The team is now coached by Federico Pizzolini. 

American Cat Osterman had nine strike outs across six innings, and Monica Abbott got the save, striking out the side. 

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