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

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Canadian players celebrate during the softball game in Fukushima, Japan, against Mexico as competition got underway on Wednesday.  (Jae C. Hong/The Associated Press - image credit)
Canadian players celebrate during the softball game in Fukushima, Japan, against Mexico as competition got underway on Wednesday. (Jae C. Hong/The Associated Press - image credit)

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.

Canada draws Japan in women's soccer opener

The Canadian women's soccer team settled for a 1-1 draw against Japan in its opening game. Captain Christine Sinclair — who was making her 300th appearance with the team — extended her all-time international scoring record with her 187th career goal to give Canada the early lead.

Japan, however, equalized in the second half after Mana Iwabuchi's 84th-minute strike caught Canadian keeper Kailen Sheridan out of position.

Sheridan had been brought in to replace starter Stephanie Labbé, who appeared to injure her left shoulder area during a collision in the penalty area. Labbé exited the game, but not before saving Mina Tanaka's resulting spot kick. Read more about Labbé's heroics and Canada's opening match in this piece by CBC Sports' Jamie Strashin.

WATCH | Stephanie Labbé suffers injury, stops penalty, then leaves game:

Athletes take a knee

Players for Great Britain's soccer team 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.

Masashi Hara/Getty Images
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.

Read more about Sweden's stunning upset here.

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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